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This project is designed to help author Scott Rains.

 This past December Rolling Rains blog author Scott Rains had some health issues. 

His colleagues started a campaign to support his new lifestyle at Go Fund Me.
There is less than $3,500 to get to our goal and Give Scott a Lift. Thanks to the generosity of each of our donors, Scott and Patricia have been able to put down a deposit for the track system. 
Please join me in making one final push to invite others to participate in this campaign of caring and gratitude to Scott. If everyone who already donated persuades JUST ONE OR TWO more people to give, we will achieve our goal in no time. Can we wrap this up by June 1? 

Off-roading in the jungle by wheelchair

Lynn Atkinson Boutette indulges her love of the wild in the Galapagos and Peru's Amazon in the specially designed TrailRider

With my wheelchair perched on the deck of a boat taking us to Santa Cruz, I watch a giant marine turtle swimming in the crystal water just below my feet. Pelicans wheel overhead and sea lions lounge on buoys. But these are not the lush tropical isles I've been expecting. Though the Galapagos Islands are near the equator, 23 C in late October, prickly pear cacti on a volcanic landscape give the place a desert-like feel.

Tiny geckos scurry away from my wheels as I roll to a waiting minivan, where I am pushed up portable ramps — only to crunch my head on the ceiling. Thankfully our guide, Pepe Lopez, is used to solving the problems faced by travelling "wheelies," and he quickly pops the tires off my Quickie wheelchair so I can get in the van. I soon forget about any bruises as we stop to marvel at a 400-pound tortoise crossing the road. I have arrived at one of Earth's last unique ecosystems: more than 13 islands, 1,000 kilometres from the coast of Ecuador.


At lunch, we meet the people who will push and pull me for the next six days in the Trail-Rider — essentially a two-wheeled off-road wheelchair — we brought from Ontario. Developed by the British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society, founded by former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan to allow people with disabilities to gain access to the outdoors, it proves invaluable on the rough terrain of Santa Cruz and Isabela islands.

Because I cannot walk, we have decided to do a land-based tour rather than the usual boat cruise — which would necessitate climbing in and out of boats. Thanks to the TrailRider, I see flamingos, albatross, penguins, prehistoric marine iguanas, funny-looking sea lions galumphing across the sand, reef sharks and more tortoises than I've seen in a lifetime.

Arriving in Puerta Ayora, we are booked into a hotel that suits my purpose once the bathroom door is removed. For dinner, wahoo fish is cooked at our table on hot lava rocks. As we eat, we plan a kayak trip. I'm leery of the waves, but the next day, in the hands of a skilled kayaker, I glory in my new-found freedom. I am continually amazed at the brazenness of birds and animals. Tiny finches, whose different beaks on each island helped Darwin develop his theory of evolution, light on trees within inches of our heads.

Later, back in Lima, we prepare for one of the flights we will take to Puerto Maldonado in southeastern Peru. From there we take a three-hour boat ride up Rio Tambopata to stay at Refugio Amazonas Lodge in the Amazon rain forest. Guides carry my wheelchair up the slippery clay bank, onto a two-wheeled cart and then on to a supply cart, which is winched up the hill. After a meal of dorado in an open-air dining room, it's lights out at 9 p.m. Our bedroom is also open to the jungle, and under mosquito netting I listen as each new voice adds to the chorus of insect, bird and animal sounds.

The next morning, a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call by kerosene lamp (no electricity here) sets the pace for the next three days. I'm out in the TrailRider for hours at a time while my husband tries to keep up with the young men who push and pull me over the roots and deadfall on the forest floor. Although I am prevented from climbing a 35-metre canopy tower above the treetops, we spot wild capybaras, macaws and howler monkeys, and one night we see a sloth in the trees only 15 metres away.

I feel fortunate to have seen all this before a highway between Brazil and Peru is built through Puerto Maldonado, destroying more of the local rain forest. This is already happening near the next lodge we fly to, three hours upriver from Iquitos in northern Peru. Development has made it more accessible for me and my wheelchair, for which I am grateful, but the perennial dilemma — the wilds versus civilization — is not lost on me. As a quadriplegic, I need civilization, but it's the wilds that I really desire.

In the 30 years since Sinchicuy Lodge was built, co-owner Danilo Pena admits, increased prosperity has led to a clash of expectations for tourists who don't anticipate finding two all-night discos in a village of 750 people. However, I find that after Refugio Amazonas, Sinchicuy is remote enough for me. There's no electricity, but with temperatures approaching 35 C, I welcome cool showers. We even have a room with a wheel-in shower!

And Pena and his staff have done everything possible to make my stay accessible with "todos los rampas." The Trail-Rider stays in its bag and I use my comfortable manual wheelchair. I can't believe my good fortune when I am wheeled through the jungle on government-built concrete sidewalks, which allow natives to transport produce to the river.

Our guide takes us piranha fishing and to a village shaman, and then on the last night, while sitting in a flat-bottom boat in my wheelchair feeling like the Amazon Queen, magic happens: Suddenly I am face to face with a pink dolphin — encantado, the enchanted one — which in native myth nudges dugout canoes with his long pink snout and abducts women he falls in love with. My Peruvian adventure has entered the supernatural.


Air Canada flies from major Canadian airports to Quito via Bogota. Aerolineas Galapagos ( connects from Quito to the Galapagos.


  • Refugio Amazonas Rainforest Expeditions From $295 for three days.

  • Sinchicuy Lodge; e-mail Danilo Pena,


Peru Apumayo Expediciones S.A.C. ( specializes in taking "wheelies" up Machu Picchu.

Ecuador Ecuador for All ( offers accessible tourism.


To find out about the TrailRider wheelchair, visit For locations of TrailRider trails in Canada and the U.S.:

Lynn Atkinson-Boutette: England 2013

Disability Dreaming - Travels by wheelchair


After bouncing and bumping over cobblestones from London to St. Ives and then Canterbury in my power wheelchair this spring, it was a pleasant surprise to reach Bath and discover that the spa was completely accessible. Thermal pools, including a rooftop pool with stunning views of Bath Abbey, all had lifts into the water. My sore muscles were treated to a two-hour soak, and aromatherapy massage. I felt like the pampered Roman goddess Sulis Minerva for whom the original baths were named.

In many ways Bath typifies how far England has come in making its 1000+-year-old country accessible. Since my last trip to England 23 years ago when I rode in the baggage car on the train, services and facilities have improved significantly. Many of the old Roman/Georgian buildings have ramps and lifts or both, and sightseeing and city buses plus many taxis are accessible. Now through the newly instituted National Accessible Scheme NAS, visitors can find accessibility to suit their needs. According to VisitEnglandorg, the national tourist board of England, people with disabilities and health conditions or impairments spend over £2 billion a year in England (Source: UKTS 2009 and IPS 2010). In 2009 almost half a million people from abroad visited England with their companions. (Source: International Passenger Survey 2010).

I had decided to take my electric wheelchair because I didn't want my husband pushing me everywhere for two weeks although I was anxious about how I would fare. I didn't regret my decision. It gave me the freedom I wanted despite the cobblestones. Happily I found services and attitudes for the most part had improved, since I rode in the baggage train car back in 1990. (Improved that is, discounting the 'black cab' taxi driver and the bus driver who refused to take my chair. The taxi, because he said it would break his ramp although the weight limit clearly printed on the ramp was 300 kg - me in my chair weigh about 180 kg. And the bus driver who refused to let me board because a woman with a baby stroller was in the space - a policy that was recently challenged by a wheelchair user who took First Bus Group in Yorkshire to court and won an unlawful discrimination suit.)

We traveled by train which was expensive and complicated to figure out but once we got the hang of it, we were all right. Travelers who need ramps or assistance boarding the train should call 24 hours in advance of travel. If you are not sure on which railway you are traveling check online. Rail cards are only available to UK residents with disabilities but, tourists with disabilities are eligible for 1/3 off "anytime" day tickets as is the travel companion, although sometimes it may be cheaper to buy an undiscounted Off-Peak or Advance ticket. Whatever you decide, remember it pays to check and double check.

We stayed at the inexpensive London School of Economics (LSE) Grosvenor student residence. Although basic, the room was large with roll-in shower and cooking facilities. Right next to Covent Garden and the theater district, it proved ideal.

Getting around London is relatively easy as most streets have curb cuts plus we took public buses everywhere. Most museums and galleries are accessible, sometimes through a side entrance. Wheelchair users are admitted for free with companions paying half price. For an overview of the city we took a 'hop-on-hop-off' bus that accommodates wheelchairs. An excellent way to see the sights, we found it best to buy a two or three day pass so that we could stop and explore the attraction we wanted to see without feeling rushed.

Four days later, we walked/rolled to Paddington station where we boarded the First Great Western, the Cornish Riviera express, for the five-hour trip to Cornwall. Speeding across the low-lying Somerset Hills was a relaxing way to see the countryside. As we came in sight of the sea, London seemed far away.

Although I was warned that "St. Ives is NOT accessible," this picture-perfect English Riviera town has a paved walkway by the sea and the cobblestones and steep hills were no problem for my electric chair. While few of the shops were accessible we found that some restaurants, the Tate art gallery and the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden all had ramps. Our day trip was sunny with bathers (even a beach wheelchair), and surfers.  The St. Ives September Festival bagpipes serenaded us through the cobbled lanes and at a local pub one evening, Capt. Roy entertained us with stories of his 90 foot fishing boat that had served at Dunkirk and even helped to sink a U-boat during the war.

When it came time to leave, unfortunately we learned too late that accessible taxis are difficult to find away from the major centers. (We stayed in a B&B in the countryside. Wheelchair users considering staying in Cornwall would be well advised to stay in a larger place such as Penzance and taking a day trip into St. Ives.) "Welcome to the world of disability," I said to B&B host Sally Jones after she volunteered a frustrating hour trying to help us. Eventually a lift-equipped Penzance taxi came through which was a boon, as most black cabs we had taken thus far had had very steep short ramps better suited to manual wheelchairs. Lack of lowered floors or raised roofs in black cabs also made for less visibility, plus the space behind the driver's seat and the fixed rear passenger seat is quite small making it difficult for a power wheelchair to maneuver.

Kent on the east coast, was a step back in time. We took a tour of Leeds and Dover castles with Jane Martin of Tours of the Realm. She had never taken a person in a wheelchair before, but found an accessible taxi to drive us around for the day. It was expensive but well worth it. Jane had arranged everything including lunch at a restaurant overlooking the white cliffs of Dover.

Canterbury was the culmination of a kind of pilgrimage for me; it seemed fitting that I should celebrate my years of overcoming obstacles in the place I had begun my travels nearly 25 years ago. I'll never forget lying in bed looking out of the hotel bay window at the soaring towers where Archbishop Thomas Beckett had been murdered in 1170 A.D. My wheelchair travels had come of age.

Accessible info.

Accommodation with roll in showers

London -

Cornwall - Note: Rowan Barn is soon to become self-catering although the wheelchair suite will remain a B&B

Bath -

Canterbury -


Rail -

Accessible Taxis

Bath -

Cornwall -,

Accessible Sightseeing etc.

English countryside - and

London -



Kent/Canterbury -


- Cotswolds taxi tour  You Go First!"

Cornwall -

by Lynn Atkinson-Boutette

"Hector will push you around for $15 day", said our B&B hostess Maricela. "He doesn't speak English, but if he manages to keep you on the narrow sidewalk and cobblestone streets and you learn Spanish for 'watch the ka ka', I'm sure you'll do fine." And our vacation was just that -- in fact more than fine.  

Our two weeks at the beginning of April were memorable.  Far from the troubled drug wars of northern Mexico, this Spanish colonial town is a mountain oasis inhabited by artists and a large ex-pat community. San Miguel, 4½ hours from Mexico City or 1½ hours from Leon on the east coast, is very affordable, and clean and with a wheelchair pusher it's definitely doable. Best of all, unlike other Mexican towns, the food and water is safe which is very important for me and my compromised constitution. I have multiple sclerosis.

Although I was wary of eating salads, fruits or iced drinks, our friend convinced us that while eating from street vendors may not be safe for western stomachs, restaurants in San Miguel are noted for their cleanliness.  Within a few days I was eating everything with no problems.  At El Pegaso, just off the main square, I was introduced to Chiles en Nogado plus excellent casual fare -- soups salads etc.  Restaurant walls, filled with folk art box niches, are by turns both poignant and hilarious. At Casa Maricela B&B we were also introduced to many Mexican dishes including enchiladas served with Mole, from the Aztec word molli, a rich sauce served with chicken or turkey, containing over 25 different ingredients the most famous of which are chocolate and chiles.  Chocolate contributes to the richness of the sauce without adding sweetness.  Sometimes  grated avocado seed is used to add a balancing bitterness.

San Miguel is a garden surrounded by walls, not unlike a European hill town, remarkable primarily for what's inside.  Behind the wooden doors lining the streets, are lush gardens, and fountains. The purple and blue jacaranda trees and vibrant pink bougainvillea were a balm to my soul as were the colorful handicrafts in the shops. My husband and Hector, at the mercy of my winter blahs, stopped at every shop filled with handicrafts, ceramica made in the nearby town of Dolores Hildalgo, silver jewelry, tapestries, woven baskets and Mexican clothes. Although locals complain Americans are driving up housing prices, this colonial town, declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, still retains its 16th century flavor.

We arrived in the middle of Semana Santa or holy week, celebrated throughout Mexico but particularly in San Miguel.  After unexpectedly bumping into an artist friend from Toronto, we attended the Good Friday procession where hundreds and hundreds of silent mourners dressed in black march to the sound of hollow drum beats. The next day I was shocked to see children playing with what I thought were real body parts -- an arm, a leg -- but were in fact were pieces of larger- than-life papier-mâché figures blown up during the firing of the Judases, a tradition with Biblical roots, but now a popular way of 'crucifying' politicians and other unpopular figures.

The highlight of my time in San Miguel where the unexpected moments such as coming upon a wedding party exiting the Parrochia church off the Jardin (pronounced Hardeen). The wedding procession made its way across the square to the tunes of mariachi bands dressed in white or black uniforms studded with gold buttons, followed by giant papier-mâché replicas of the bride and groom.  Another evening, a ballet folklorico flashed its color to odd Mexican rhythms.  And another, a large band outside of our restaurant passed around the wine of Sangre de Cristo to the largely Mexican crowd.  As it turned out April was the best time to go as by the end of March most gringos have ended their winter sojourns and left San Miguel.  

Things to do in San Miguel

--Buy Atencion, the English newspaper for events and happenings including music

-- Sit in beautiful Parque Juarez and read On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan, the quintessential book on San Miguel. Slow down and enjoy the perfect blue skies, friendly people, and the colors of the brilliant purple and blue jacaranda trees (full bloom in April)

-- Visit the orphanage Hogar de St. Julia (our friend was painting a mural on the building walls there.)

-- Sit in the Jardin and watch the 16th century Parroquia church change from pink, ocher, to red in the sunset.  Watch families and listen to mariachi bands, one each corner of the square !

-- Spend all day at the totally wheelchair accessible Fabrico la Aurora, a former turn-of-the-century textile mill converted to one of Mexico's finest art centers housing a myriad of artisan shops

-- Check out the San Miguel Bibliotecha for information on Spanish lessons, although with so many foreigners and shop staff speaking English you could be forgiven for thinking you can get by without learning Spanish.  

-- Take a taxi ride to the raucous Tuesday market where raw chickens and produce sit next to baby clothes, electronics and anything you care to think of.

-- Hike the El Charo del Ingenio Botanical Gardens, a bit dicey for a wheelchair but doable if you have a strong pusher

-- Have lunch or early dinner at Casa de Diezmo The sound of church bells (every 15 minutes it seems), and firecrackers (Mexicans are fond of loud noises) blend with a guitarist serenading diners in the garden

-- Taxi to Atotonilco, 10 minutes away from San Miguel, a religious world heritage site, and if you're lucky talk to the old woman in the square who will point out the six families in town, not including hers because she lives near the river.

-- Drink margaritas at one of the classic watering holes, La Frugas, Harry's or Ten-Ten Pie

-- Take a walking tour of historic Centro Mon-Wed-Fri 10 a.m. leaving from the Jardin in front of the Parroquia

-- Have coffee in the little café at Bellas Artes and enjoy the serenity of the quiet courtyard

-- Hike around town (remember there are lots of hills and cobblestones but with a young Mexican pushing the wheelchair it's doable)

B&Bs close to the main square including breakfast and lunch, the main meal of the day)

Casa Maricela (not accessible but you can stay next-door at her sister's and eat meals at Maricela's).

Posada Corazon (more or less accessible) approx. $176

Casa Carmen (your best bet - wheelchair accessible and close to the center) $126 a night double occupancy


Francisco Marin will pick you up at either Mexico City or Leon for very reasonable rate cell 415-113-4796

Seoul Park.jpg
Scott Rains has kayaked in Alaska's Glacier Bay, trekked through South Africa and India, and visited Guatemala and New Zealand. He also happens to be a quadriplegic, a fact the 56-year-old campus minister from San Jose, California, hasn't allowed to interfere with an ambitious travel schedule.

Rains has noticed something interesting lately. Other folks his age--the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 and referred to as the baby boom generation--have begun to see things his way.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were ramps for easier access to train cars? Bigger doors to hotel bathrooms that accommodated a wheelchair? Audiovisual paging systems for the hard of hearing?

Boomers, many of whom came of age holding a protest sign, are joining forces with disability and senior groups to add muscle to the cause of increased accessibility in travel. "They don't intend to let hip replacements and insulin shots stop them from traveling," says Rains. "Nor will they be pandered to, stigmatized, or written off."

Rains and his generation are part of a growing movement. Retiring 60-somethings have more time to travel, which has increased demand for accessible accommodations.

Full article:

The organisers of the inaugural Universal Design Conference, taking place in August at Sydney Town Hall, have announced the call for papers is now open, giving experts in the field of the built environment an opportunity to contribute their knowledge and experience of universal design.

The conference will hear from keynote speaker, Dr Gerald Craddock, the chief officer at the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Since its inception in 2007, the centre has been at the forefront of the movement to develop universally designed environments that are accessible to everyone, regardless of background, age, or level of capability.

The conference is being hosted by the Council of the Ageing NSW and is sponsored by the City of Sydney. It is being organised by Interpoint Events, the events arm of the Intermedia Group, publisher of Australian Ageing Agenda. 

The conference, to be held 20 to 21 August 2014, aims to cover all aspects of the built environment including public domain, urban design, housing, tourism, workplaces and open spaces.

The call for papers closes on 6 February. Those interested are encouraged to share their knowledge and experience of universal design with a diverse audience including local government, advocacy and industry associations, and the construction industry.

For more information on the Universal Design Conference and to register, pleasevisit the website, call 1300 789 845 or send an email.


BRANZ is an independent research, testing, consulting and information company that provides resources and advice for the building industry.

"Human behaviour isn't the only factor behind injuries in the home - structural aspects can play their part, which is why ACC is supporting BRANZ's new resource on universal design," says ACC Programme Manager Megan Nagel.

"Universal design describes buildings that are safe, aesthetic, and accessible to all people. Examples of universal design features include level access ways, non-slip surfaces, and wider doorways and passageways.

Ms Nagel says that approximately 40% of the roughly 1.7 million claims Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) receives each year are for injuries that happen in or around the home.

"It makes sense to incorporate universal design ideas when planning your home. They will make your house safer by reducing the risks of trips and slips, while also ensuring it can accommodate your physical needs as they change over time, for example because of age or injury.

"It costs very little to incorporate universal design features at the blueprint stage, especially compared with the cost of modifying an existing home. It is also a smart investment for the future. As New Zealand's population ages, there will be a growing demand for safer homes with better access," says Ms Nagel.

To see the universal design resource, visit:

Simple tips to help prevent injuries at home include:

- Clean up spills in 'wet' areas (i.e., kitchen, bathroom and laundry)

- Run appliance cords along the wall rather than across the floor

- Replace blown bulbs to keep walkways well lit at night

- Fasten mats and rugs to the floor

- Clean up toys and clutter, especially in areas with high foot traffic

- Install outdoor lighting to make it safer coming and going in the dark

- Remove moss from paths, especially during winter.

The 5th Universal Access In Airports (UAIA)conference will take place at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare on Oct. 6-8, 2014. This biennial event, hosted by Open Doors Organization, brings together airports, airlines, service companies, suppliers and the disability community for a unique exchange of ideas on how to best meet the needs of older air travelers and those with disabilities.

Rethinking Cityscapes

From Universal

Aaron Murphy, of the website Empowering the Mature Mind, has written a great piece about how re-zoning and creative thinking is needed to restructure our communities to be more age friendly. We often think of Aging in Place as an issue of home modification, but livable communities are also necessary if older adults are going to remain active members of the community. Of course livable communities benefit everyone: young single adults, families with children and older adults alike. Murphy puts forth some ideas for how we might start thinking about radically reshaping the suburban landscape. 

For instance: 

  • What if abandoned big box stores were converted into Senior/Community Centers? 
  • What if the vacant parking lots at strip malls were rezoned so that they could be covered in cottage housing surrounding a park or other common space? 
  • What if abandoned car dealerships were transformed into accessible mixed-use apartments with commercial space on the ground floor? 

You can read more about these and other ideas at Empowering the Mature Mind


Making a Difference by Design

REIS_D20081231GH_GREENHOUSE_Port_We speak with Esther Greenhouse, M.S., CAPS

Builders know that their homes make a difference in the lives of their customers.  But most professionals, whether they are builders, designers, or manufacturers, do not know the extent of that impact.

My work focuses on a key concept:  Good Design Enables

  • Good design enables people to function at their highest level (environmental fit)
  • Poor design pushes people down to a lower level of functioning (environmental press).  This is unnecessary and avoidable.

We all have experienced this.  For example, a well-designed car with adaptable features enables us to drive the car comfortably and safely whether we are 5'-1" or 6'-2".  A properly designed and adjustable workstation allows us to complete our tasks without ending up with sore shoulders or carpal tunnel syndrome.  Designs like speakerphone eliminate the crick in the neck inherent to a long phone call.  A well designed tool, whether it be an electric drill or an app, will encourage use whereas a poorly designed one will sit unused-a wasted expense-or make our lives more difficult.

So while most professionals and consumers are aware of this on a basic level, few understand the depth of this.  Design that does not meet our needs and abilities acts as a stressor, called environmental press, and can make us more dependent on others as well as at risk for accidents.  Again, this is preventable.

Read the full story:

A culture shift is taking place in senior living architecture and design, as firms look to eliminate existing "nursing" elements in favor of new features that foster social engagement and technology advancement.

For skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), that might mean eliminating traditional nursing stations to make way for resident engagement and technology, while for other assisted living and independent living it can mean implementing design elements into units that can accommodate all age types and physical abilities.

Largely, there has been a push for universal design, or a solution that produces building features that are usable and effective for everyone, not just people with disabilities or physical limitations.

Full article:

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