From Accessibility to Inclusion: The Shift from Tent Pegs to Tent Poles

Very soon something I write will be the focus of controversy. (I'll give you a hint. It will appear in New Mobility magazine.) 

It will challenge some of sense of success and question some of our strategic focus. My apologies beforehand - especially to my closest colleagues who generally tend to be in developing nations where the impact may be felt first.

With the article I hope I am offering a set of ideas to inoculative the rest of the world against the contagion of backlash. Yes, there is a backlash in the USA to even the simplest principles of accessibility.

You have seen the stories of random discrimination by airlines mushroom on

You may be aware of this story of Allison Kessler's attempts to walk her dog:

Rather than grant Ms. Kessler's request for a safe, accessible route, the association has alleged that she has violated certain association rules, for which she has been fined $850. Ms. Kessler believes that she has followed all the association's rules, and that the fine was levied in retaliation for her requests for accommodation. In addition to the condominium association's refusal to provide an accessible dog route and its alleged retaliation against Ms. Kessler, it has rejected Ms. Kessler's request for an accessible parking place.


Accessibility is certainly not an accomplished fact in even the most forward-thinking and affluent of places. There has long been a sub-specialization in the US legal field that "defends against" application of the ADA.

With these countervailing forces in mind, settling for mere accessibility, which is only a strategy toward the overarching goal of inclusion is shortsighted. It is like fumbling with tent pegs when it is long past time to set the tent poles firmly in the upright and locked position.

Mere accessibility is necessary but insufficient to our goal of full social inclusion. 

So I propose that we call out those events, ideas, and people who have moved beyond settling for a minimalist approach to those who are are actively engaged in realizing everything that Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out.

This partial calendar of international Inclusive Tourism conferences demonstrates that we have tent that covers the entire globe:

      • Valladoilid Nov 2010, Spain
      • SATH January 2011, USA, (annual)
      • ICAT April 2011, Taiwan, (biennial)
      • i-CREATE July 2011, Thailand, (annual)
      • IIDI Oct 2011, Brazil, (follow-up to March 2010 in Mozambique)
      • TRANSED Sept 2012, India, (biennial)
      • Interdependence May 2012, Canada
      • ENAT various dates in various EU locations

Wherever you may be - North America or South, Europe or Asia, on an island or deep inside Africa - grab the tent pole laying untended in your region.  We're putting up the big tent. You are all invited.

Recent Entries

Tent Pole Events: SATH January 2011, USA
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) sets a new global standard for disability rights. As with…
CERMI pide un observatorio de accesibilidad al transporte (Spanish)
En la jornada sobre 'La accesibilidad Universal a los medios de transporte', Roser Romero, miembro del Comité Ejecutivo del CERMI, ha propuesto…
From Accessibility to Inclusion: The Shift from Tent Pegs to Tent Poles
Very soon something I write will be the focus of controversy. (I'll give you a hint. It will appear in…
Tent Pole Events: Valladoilid Nov 2010, Spain
Today starts the 3rd International Congress of Tourism for All in Valladoilid, Spain:The main theme of the 3rd International Congress…
Tent Pole Events: The Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities
The Pac Rim Conference has a multitude of tracks. This year organizers are making an effort to reach out…
São Paulo ganhará parque ecológico sobre a Mata Atlântica (Portuguese)
Paulistanos e moradores do ABC e da Baixada Santista terão um dos mais inovadores espaços de educação ambiental e de…
GeoTourism: A Tent Pole Concept Holding Up Inclusive Tourism
Just 7 days remain to submit your innovation to the Geotourism Challenge 2010!Ashoka's Changemakers, National Geographic and the Inter-American Development Bank are…
A Tale of Two Cities: Geoff Holt on the Dickensian State of Pre-Olympic London
Geoff Holt tells the story of an thoroughly amazing week of accolades, public service, and, as so often is the…