Disabled? No, Just a Bit Stiff.

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The connection between Universal Design, aging, and travel continues to surface.

A unique "massively multi-player future forecasting role-playing experience" designed by United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), AARP, and the Institute for the Future (IFTF) is one of the latest toys to catch my attention on aging - Ruby's Bequest. (More on this topic when I return from "Deepwell.")

I also enjoy Ed Perkin's musings about travel and aging at Smarter Travel. The title of his latestIt's just a flesh wound article tickled my sense of irony, "Disabled...Or Even Just a Little Stiff?"

There is a generation that precedes me that will never accept disability identity. It thereby leaves itself isolated from our sense of community and is left rather with a private sense of personal failure at being perpetually "just a little bit stiff."

As an antidote I offer the subliminal mascot
proposed so long ago by Andy Capp in his implicit battle against the anti-disabled themes of Dick Tracy -- Fearless Fosdick.

That's right, "It's only a flesh wound" marked the epitome of cool. It also allowed Cap to play the prophet's role. His Fearless Fosdick parody served as the nunatuk exposing a generation's addiction to disability denial.

But, after his bit of, perhaps unintentional, chiding Perkins makes a useful observation and distinction between disabilities such as spinal cord injuries and those disabilities occurring in the normal processes of aging:

Many travelers--as they get older--find themselves unable to compete with younger counterparts in the mad scramble that travel has become. The travel industry officially helps many, but others are sometimes left to fall through the cracks. Here's what I can tell you, in general, about travel options when you're slightly to fully disabled.

Much of the travel industry seems to view "disabled" narrowly as "confined to a wheelchair," and "accessible" as "accessible to someone in a wheelchair." The needs of those travelers are pretty well directed by the Americans with Disability Act and the Air Carrier Access Act...

All in all, the travel industry has accepted its mandate to accommodate travelers in wheelchairs reasonably well, in much of the world as well as in the United States. These requirements, however, leave a large group of travelers--impaired in some way but not dependent on wheelchairs--in limbo.

Read on for an email he recently received and his recommendations:


Slowly the full message of Universal Design - design for all - is getting through.

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