July 27, 2007

Accessible Sailing & Good Design in Boston are Good for Tourism

Tom McCarthy photo from http://bygonebureau.com/

For the past week it has been my privilege to host several out of town visitors. Playing host is always a valuable exercise in seeing the familiarly local with new eyes. On the return from an excursion into Big Basin redwood park Brazilian tourism student Mariana Coelho and I discussed a new video that we previewed together by the Brazilian inclusive adventure and eco-tourism tourism activists at Aventura Especial. The question we chewed on most of the way home was how to measure success - how to know when "first stage" pioneering efforts in Inclusive Tourism have matured into sustainable "second stage" initiatives or passed into a ubiquitous "third stage" where inclusion is no longer a conceptual or design challenge but a commonsense assumption.

Let me introduce you to The Bygone Bureau with an engagingly written look at accessible sailing in Boston. I see in Boston's program innovation at that second stage where a strong international inclusive sailing community devotes significant talent and financial resource to improving their sport -- and in the process enhancing the appeal of Boston as a destination of choice for travelers with disabilities. Kevin Nguyen's Smart Design chronicles a sailing adventure with Tom McCarthy in an experimental craft. Nguyen observes:

The Accessible Sailing Program is a great example of user-centered design, a philosophy that boils down to multi-step problem solving. The Community Boating team adjusted the make of the boat to accommodate, not accept, each limitation of its driver. Most admirably, no part of the universal sailing experience is diminished.

In a world where people are constantly struggling with clumsy design—poor user interfaces, products made for form rather than function—it’s refreshing to see that there are some folks out there with enough heart to make something that really works the way it should. Time and effort seem to be the key.

By the way, if you are not familiar with The Bygone Bureau you an keep an eye on it here in their Travel section. Anybody with the writing talent they demonstrate and the self-effacing bravado of a start-up publication deserves to be on your RSS list:

We’ve been playing with the idea of starting an online publication for a while now. Even in its conceptual stages (a euphemism for drunken brainstorming), I knew there’d be a few hitches––dealing with limited contact between writers through e-mail, finding a simple hosting plan, coding a solid site design, et cetera. I never imagined that the project’s biggest snag would be giving it a name.

Seriously. It took forever.

Realizing that just about every domain name had already been registered and parked, Nick and I were forced to throw around names for two or three weeks. Some were quirky (Deep Sea Life), some were sophisticated (The Emperor), and some were just plain stupid (Higgledy-Piggledy).

And so the fruits of our labor yielded the Bygone Bureau. It’s a pretty snappy name for what I can only guess will become the world’s most popular publication.

Related reading:

Access Dinghies & Universal Design

Posted by rollingrains at July 27, 2007 05:41 PM