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August 30, 2008

Express Travel World: India on Travel with a Disability


These are three articles resulting from our four-city Inclusive Tourism tour of India:

It's a Long Walk
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management01.shtml

Visability for Disability
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management02.shtml

Complete Access
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management03.shtml

Posted by rollingrains at 08:16 AM

August 22, 2008

Hopeful Signs - India and Ripple Effects

Positive development continue from the ASTA India sponsored workshop series on Inclusive Tourism.

While Tourism Secretary Banerjee brings government to bear, and the Adventure Tour Operators' Association of India teams up with international experts on Inclusive Tourism at the Adventure Travel Summit and Fair in Brazil, numerous Disabled People's Organizations, tour operators, travel agencies, and Ashoka Fellows fill in with entrepreneurial vigor to open everything from convention centers, to luxury, family, and extreme travel to the disability community. Progress will not be miraculous or overnight but, if this wave of interest institutionalizes, it can be substantial.

Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

On the technical side this protocol called Universal Design Guest Rooms developed by AccessAbility of New Delhi is promising. Download file

Posted by rollingrains at 02:57 AM

August 20, 2008

Saroma Holidays

Satish Nair is justifiably proud of the new houseboat design of his company Saroma Holidays sailing the backwaters of Kerala, India. Watch for this market to open up on a global scale with help from many regulars at the Rolling Rains Report.

Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

Posted by rollingrains at 03:36 PM

August 18, 2008

Emergency & Evacuation Preparedness by the Travel & Hospitality Industry

NEC logo.gif

With a few minor injuries added to my body during transport in India ( laceration to my toe and a pressure sore ), damage to the wheelchair, and a few good frights all around I am a strong endorser of the movement to educate the industry on basic safety and evacuation protocols for customers with disabilities.

Here Bruce Bromley takes the lead in Australia with National Evacuation Chairs

Posted by rollingrains at 01:51 AM

August 17, 2008

Akhil Srivastava and Antardrishti.org


One of the enjoyable parts of returning home after an extended trip like the past three weeks in India s really getting to know all the extraordinary people I was able to interact with only briefly. Here is a link to the work of one such person, Akhil Srivastava and the group Antardrishti.


Posted by rollingrains at 09:31 PM

August 16, 2008

Meet Prasad Phanasgaonkar

Listen to Prasad Phanasgaonkar at the Mumbai Workkshop on Inclusive Tourism on August 30, 2008.

Posted by rollingrains at 07:43 PM

August 15, 2008

Driving Like India in the USA

Touchdown in the USA. A swift passage through Customs. On my own - and loving it.

With all my commentary about the driving style in India you would expect that reaching US soil I would be the model of good road behavior.

No so!

I made myself laugh as I realized that as soon as I was free to push my own wheelchair, without the attendant crowds of "helpers" who have swarmed me over the past three weeks, I sped through the crowd at JFK darting, dodging, and feinting like a New Delhi taxi driver. I must have looked like the teenagers from the 'hoods here in California who use the freeway traffic around them (all traveling at 70 + MPH) as "stationary" pylons while they play race car driver.

A couple generations ago my peers came back from India transformed by encounters with gurus and rhapsodizing on higher states of consciousness. I only seem to have turned into a second-rate livery jockey!

The terminal at the Jet Blue gates looked like an early morning at the ticket counter before a big rock concert - people spread all over the floors sleeping.

It turns out that New Dehli was not the only place experiencing unseasonably violent monsoons yesterday. New York and surrounding areas were shut down by rainstorms of up to 4 inches an hour and a tornado watch. I slowed down and picked my way through stranded passengers.

Except for the delay of less than an hour as the plane we were scheduled to use to fly from JFK to long Beach, CA was taken out of service for repairs, the trip proceeded smoothly. I was especially appreciative of the candor of the Jet Blue staff - and the discipline and courtesy of my fellow passengers some of whom were quite obviously wearing brave faces as they waited on Standby and us newcomers got flights out before they did.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:53 PM

August 14, 2008

Aventura Especial (Video in Portuguese)

Today I meet with the president of he Indian adventure tourism association who has just returned to Delhi. One of the topics on the agenda is what is being done in other countries. Dada Morerira's Aventura Especial will be one example I will discuss. India will ned to emulate Brazil as it took national action to incorporate modules on working with people with disabilities in adventure tourism professional certification curriculum.

Posted by rollingrains at 10:00 PM

August 12, 2008

Free2Wheel Delhi - A New Look!

Free2Wheel Logo.jpg

Today I am the guest of Shivani Gupta of AccessAbility in New Delhi. Last night she, Vikas Sharma, and I stayed up to the wee hours scheduling my next few days and discussing projects. Today we do some site reviews for a court-ordered study, meet with the Tourism Ministry, and then disability rights activist Mr. Javed Abidi.

AccessAbility is lean, nimble, and producing valuable work.In just a week they have done a nice redesign of their city directory. Take a look:


Posted by rollingrains at 04:09 AM

August 11, 2008

Flight Across India

Captain John Abraham Regional Manager of WHL - Kerala reminded me as we debriefed last night that the circuit that I just completed in 4 nights is generally a 12 to 15 day itinerary. No wonder I feel like I ran a marathon. I did!

Today I fly from Cochin to New Delhi via Chennai. In Delhi I hope to have a chance to process all these compressed experiences (and pass along the photos & measurements from the several sites assessments I did per day)

Posted by rollingrains at 01:15 AM

August 10, 2008

Back on Dry Land - Cochin, South India


The backwaters of Kerala are endlessly fascinating.

This region where the agricultural land is below sea level as in the Netherlands and where gondola-like canoes are the transportation method of choice. Then there are their big cousins!

I just spent the night on the water in a kettuvalum. "Kettu" means "tied" in Malayalam. The hulls are made of boards fitted, tied, and sealed into a seaworthy vessel. Typically domed with a palm-frond living compartment these lumbering boats look like cartoon caterpillars crawling slowly up and down the main channels of the canals.

But after 6 PM you won't find them on the main waterways. The next 12 hours are given over to the fishermen who work he deeper waters while kettuvalums hug the shore. You are just as likely to find yourself anchored in front of a rice paddy or a small village once night time comes. I learned this morning that the traditional question the children as visitors on he boats is "May I have one pen please?"

Kerala has 98% literacy rate. If I had known before I came that ballpoint pens were the coin of the pre-teen realm here I would have stuffed my bags with them. Who can resist a cute kid shyly begging for a pen (and then running off to show her friends her new prize!)

Rima here had her choice between a white and a blue one. She chose the blue one.


Posted by rollingrains at 04:22 PM

August 07, 2008

Lane Jumping in India: Highway Etiquette as Workout for Your Abs

I’m taking bets that my abs look more like those washboard midsections of tv gym equipment hucksters than they did when we started climbing to the hill stations of Kerala four hours ago.

There is a rhythm to driving in India. The driving rhythm has a danceable beat. At least that’s my working hypothesis since I have isolated no other pattern of rule-based behavior in what I have observed by sitting in the front passenger seat.

Apparently if you don’t “jump lanes,” as they call it here, on the downbeat you risk the moral equivalent of causing your dance partner to trip over his/her own feet. Generally, you dance partner is either the person playing the one-note symphony at your back bumper or the vehicle in your lane closing in on your front bumper rapidly from up ahead.


It is this Indian school of sedentary samba that has given my abdominal muscles their workout today.

We wove past city traffic in the flatland, around curves past tapioca plantations in the foothills, up through rubber and then pineapple plantations. Muscle tone was noticeably improved by the time we got to betel nut tree plantations, climbed higher past cocao seedling nurseries, coffee plantations, and finally on to terraced mountainside tea gardens.

Roots of one hundred year old tea bushes have shape d themselves to cling tenaciously to soil and rock – sometimes long after both have eroded away. I cling to the dashboard. Sometimes that’s because of the centrifigal force. Sometimes it’s to brace for what seems to be immanent impact.

I’m still not sure how they do it but the dance goes on and I’m developing a kinesthetic sense of its timing. Even so, I have never observed a dog, cow, pig, goat, car, truck, child or adult visibly respond to the horn being honked at them. Some part of this roadway dance definitely has something to do with projecting “coolness” under life threatening situations.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:54 PM

Moon Over Munnar


Padmanabhan, Executive Chef at Club Mahindra in Munnar, Kerala India got a workout last night. Not only did he make up some delicious Kerala dished ("medium spicy, please!"). He accompanied each serving personally as it was delivered to me. I was one of those meals that is a shame to have eaten alone: Kerala Fsh Curry with kingfish served on a specialty bread consisting of ground rice dough left to ferment over night. (His recipe uses yeast as leaven rather that the more typical toddy of fermented coconut juice for the sake of gusts who prefer no alcohol.)

It is not exactly fair to say I ate alone. Two fire dancers sent rapid-fire flares from their mouths into the sky on the terrace just beyond the restaurant. The excited response of children was visible, if not quite audible, over the pounding beat of hip hop, traditional Kerala, or techno beats depending upon their act. Unfortunately, I had come without my camera and it remained back in my room, the only fully adapted one in the Club Mahindra Lakeview Resort, and the room was up a flight of temporarily-ramped stairs connecting the second floor to the restaurant on a mezzanine level.


Nearby at East End Edassery Hotel also in Munnar I learned that there are seven tea factories operating in the area. Guests choose East End for a quieter 3-star experience and the owner of 16 years is about to renovate two rooms for guests using wheelchairs as they find increasing referrals for medical tourists supplementing the trekkers, honeymooners, and tea connoisseurs passing through. At present none are adequately accessible in this older property.

Here too the food was excellent. Homestyle fare lunch included Thoran, Sampar, Resam, and a Naranj (local) Kangari.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:08 AM

August 06, 2008

Mythic Travels

At this stage of my India tour my consistent travel companion literally comes along in my suitcase!

Ganesha, god education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth, is on his way to a good friend who asked me to transport him. I think he's doing his famous bit of "overcoming obstacles" as we travel (maybe so he can get home in one piece?)


Today was the worst experience I have ever had with an airline. In the end I am only limping along with a damaged wheelchair and was not dropped from the stairway up to the airplane as nearly happened. To add intentional insult to barely-avoided injury the spokesperson of the boarding assistance crew accused me of holding up the plane even though I arrived at the airport 30 minutes before he even checked in for work today.

Elephants walk rather silently for their bulk and seem to overcome obstacles with their momentum. Regardless of today's setbacks we are on a roll in India improving travel and leisure opportunities for all. That includes this fun group from Florida who I chatted with while we waited for our flights.


Posted by rollingrains at 08:26 PM

August 05, 2008

Thank you ASTA-India!

Park Hotels Lobby.jpg

The four-city workshop tour on disability for the travel industry was a success. Endless detail and partnerships went into the design and logistics of this four-city whirlwind tour to raise awareness. All indications are that the message was enthusiastically received.

One example is that, as i write from my excellent room provided by our host the Park Hotel in Chennai (Madras) I will soon visit the Taj Coromandel down the road to do an access audit. The remainder of the day will be as guests of the Tour Guides association. Lodging for my last night here in Chennai tonight has been arranged by a generous workshop attendee, Geetha Menon of Parveen Holidays.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:17 PM

August 04, 2008

Sailability in India

Sailability India.jpg

Today's goal: Help spread Sailability while I'm here in India.

Sailing Venue:
84 Rd3 Banjara Hiills Hyderabad

Contact details:
Name: Dipak Pradipak
Position: President Elect
Email: pradipak@hotmail.com
Phone: 914023355522
Fax: 914023355533
Mobile: 9490163957
84, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills
Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 500034

Website: http://www.sailability.org/admin/index.cfm

Sailability World Inc. operates in numerous countries throughout the world, through activities at 350 local Sailability clubs. Sailability is a "not for profit", volunteer-based organisation which, through the activity of sailing, enriches the lives of people with any type of disability, the elderly, the financially and socially disadvantaged.

Under various names, Sailability operates in Australia, France, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Timor Leste and USA with new national Sailability organisations currently being established in all parts of the world.

Sailability originated in Great Britain. In the 1980's the Royal Yachting Association formed the Seamanship Foundation, while at the same time a number of individual Sailability groups had formed the embryo of a national organisation for disabled sailors. As a result RYA Sailability was formed. Today the organisation is the leading national charity for disabled sailing in the UK with over 15,000 sailors benefiting from its activities. RYA Sailability is considered to be the most active sailing organisation for people with disabilities in the world, there being 200 clubs in the UK.

In 1991 Sailability was introduced to Australia, where there are currently over fifty groups covering every State and Territory, catering to a population of 20 million. Since then, an eager group of Sailability volunteers have successfully taken Sailability around the world.

Sailability activities cover a broad spectrum, ranging from recreation, therapeutic and competitive activities, from grass-root, entry level through to elite World Championships and Paralympic training.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:24 AM

August 02, 2008

Listening: The First Skill in Hospitality

CGH Earth Hotels have been one of the generous sponsors of our workshop your through India. On checking into their hotel in Cochin we discovered that there was no grab bar next to the toilet. By the time I returned from dinner an hour or so later on had been installed. Then I noticed that my grip has deteriorated so much that I can no longer use spherical door openers. Returning from a meeting I discovered they had solved that issue as well.

Sometimes the eagerness to please that I encounter in India has the unitended effect of leaving me feel mobbed. Other times it leaves me with the frightened observation that those manhandling my wheelchair (with me in it) have no training whatsoever in working with wheelchairs or protecting themselves from injury when lifting.

The common element is that these "helpers" do not listen.

The staff at CGH Earth's Casino hotel listen. That makes all the difference in the world.

Posted by rollingrains at 07:25 PM

August 01, 2008

India and Disability

As we travel across India doing workshops on Inclusive Tourism for the travel and hospitality we are privieged to eet up with Indian pioneers like Anjlee Agarwal, Javed Abidi, and Shivani Gupta all quoted is the current issue of India Today magazine:

"India's attitude has been: No Census, no statistics, no problem," says Javed Abidi, a wheelchair-user and a major voice for people with disability.

A study stint in the US showed him how much more fulfilling life can be for people like him. He came back and started raising uncomfortable questions: "How many of us are there? Why are we kept out of the Census?"

After a long battle, the Government finally yielded and Census 2001 put the figure at 2.13 per cent of India's population. But Abidi, who heads the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People, finds the figures debatable.

A World Bank report, People with Disabilities in India, claimed last year that for every 100 there are about eight disabled people in India. "If you don't see them that's because the system doesn't allow them to be visible," he says.

... Shivani Gupta became a wheelchair-user after a car accident at the age of 22, on the eve of leaving for higher studies in the UK. Over the years, struggling with the everyday challenges of taking her life forward, she has grasped the harsh reality:
The nation might be on a construction boom but easy access to buildings continues to be overlooked. "Builders install ramps, but in absence of guidelines, those are often all wrong," she says.

"We don't have any official guidelines on proper gradient, flooring, lighting, design, symbols and signage that make a place accessible." It was this exasperation that led her to set up AccessAbility, a firm that specialises in barrier-free design and employment solutions for the disabled.

Full article:


Posted by rollingrains at 03:35 AM

July 31, 2008

The Taj Mahal Palace & towers in Mumbai

I susbscribe to the analysis that "stairs are a design error - a failure of imagination."

In spite of my ideological bias I must admit that th Grand Staircase of Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace is extraordinarily compelling. See for yourself:

Mumbai - Royal Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Posted by rollingrains at 03:22 PM

July 30, 2008

Multi-Sensory Mumbai

Mumbai is not a "free range" city where sacred cattle are left to "pasture" wherever they choose (often sitting in the roadway next to the center divide). Still, my first impression of Mumbai after debarkation from the Jet Air flight from New Delhi was olfactory. Somehow the fragrance reminded me of a T shirt a man was wearing at JFK a few days ago:

"Wisconsin: Smell the Dairy Air"

The sensory paradox of traveling through a city of 20 million while subtle undertones of feedlot waft through the air is confusing to the American palate.

Oddly, days and days of monsoon rain eliminated any trace of industrial or automobile pollution.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:22 PM

Imagine, India


The travel industry sells experiences.

India's Incredible India campaign has been remarkably successful at increasing tourism. It has "captured the imagination" with an unspoken command. "Imagine India. Imagine yourself in India."

I enjoy the verbal and mental jujitsu of inverting the familiar to extract new meanings so it was natural that I would wake up this morning realizing that my core message to attendees of our Inclusive Tourism workshop series in New Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, and Chennai is not far from the Incredible India message. It is this:

Imagine me, India. Imagine us in India.

Handicapping barriers are at their root a failure of imagination. Universal Design is meant to tickle the imagination into full awareness; into enlightenment.

India is imagining itself anew in the world marketplace.

A market is an interaction between buyers and sellers. In it goods and services are exchanged. During the steps leading up to a sale information is exchanged in a mutual process of education and trust-building. Sales follows education.

The Incredible India campaign will only continue on it exponential success trajectory if it understands that it is engaged in only the earliest stages of information and trust exchange.

"Brand India" must differentiate itself as "incredible" at communication. It must communicate a message that assures potential guests that they have been "imagined in India."

Tirolesa de Panico

India has a movingly genuine national culture of extraordinary hospitality - "The guest is god."

Set alongside a unique landscape and built environment it is an experience. India can move a visitor through nature and humanity at a depth of thousands of years - or at Bollywood and digital speeds.

Heritage temples, the Taj Mahal, wild mountain hill stations need to be made accessible. So do the transportation systems to get there and the lodging nearby. Everything from quiet strolls to adrenaline-pumping extreme sports are where you will find travelers with disabilities spending their time and money these days.

Imagine, India, the humanity of travelers with disabilities. Infuse every aspect of your current growth spurt in infrastructure, business, and policy with Universal Design:

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.

Universal Design is also called Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and Lifespan Design. It is not a design style but an orientation to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the user. It has a parallel in the green design movement that also offers a framework for design problem solving based on the core value of environmental responsibility. Universal Design and green design are comfortably two sides of the same coin but at different evolutionary stages. Green design focuses on environmental sustainability, Universal Design on social sustainability.


What might that look like in India?

The answer will evolve in dialogue between government, industry, the disability community of India, and international visitors. That is the process these workshops is meant to assist.

Whatever it looks like, judging from the reception I have experienced in my short stay here I am sure the result will be incredible.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:48 AM

July 29, 2008

Inclusive Tourism Workshop Series - India

New Delhi is famously congested –even with every square inch of road, meridian, and shoulder put to full use as a travel lane. Starting about an hour late due to rush hout traffic the first workshop in the Inclusive Travel series filled the auditorium at the Surya Crowne Plaza. It was about as full at the end of the day (sometime after 6 pm) as at the start – a good indicator of a match between message, audience, and delivery.

The workshop covers definitions of disability and Universal Design in a context of customer service in he travel and hospitality industry. Attendees represented both the front and back of the house in the hospitality industry, hotel sales and manageement staff, tour operators, travel agents, and industrial design students. Leadership from several disabled people’s organizations contributed as panelists on the history and future of the promotion of inclusion in travel in India. From my perspective as a presenter it is always most interesting to learn from presentations from such groups s AccessAbility, Samarthayam, and Svayam. Over time excerpts to their presentation and links to their presentations will be posted at Rolling Rains.

From ASTA India:

Over 100 travel industry professionals from the hospitality, tourism and avialtion turned up this morning at the "Cronwe Plaza" New Delhi to attend the full day seminar organised by ASTA India Chapter. Mr. S Banerjee- secretary tourism who attended the seminar before lunch was very impressed by the presentations made by the speakers- Dr. Scott Rains - Publisher Rolling Rains report- US , Jani Nayar from SATH- US and Craig Grimes from AccessibleBarcelona- UK. He stressed on upgrading the infrastructure in every tourism site not only for the disabled but also for people who are approaching old age. He asked the ASTA India Chapter to present recommendations to the Ministry of Tourism after the seminar series. He promised full support and help to the initiative.

A number of DPO's - Disabled Peoples Organisations like- Accessibility, Swayam and Samarthyam were also present at the seminar. Some of their presentations were eye opener. These DPO's are already doing a lot of good work to make the tourism sites disabled-friendly or accessible to everyone!

The ASTA India Chapter team was upbeat about the entire project and they announced to develop a core group to take this further. According to them it is not a one off programme, they plan to develop this project in to a new tourism segment.

For more information on the seminar sessions and presentations, please get in touch with the ASTA India Chapter Admin office:

The next seminar is being held on 30th July at the Mayfair Banquets-

Worli in Mumbai as per the below programme.

9:00 Registration
9:30 Disability Awareness
10:15 What to Say and How to Say It
11:00 Basic Disability Etiquette Skills
12:30 Exercise in Disability Awareness: Disability Lunch
13:45 Debriefing of experiences at lunch
14:00 Inclusive Tourism in India – The current situation
14:30 Inclusive Tourism 101
16:00 Inclusive Marketing 101
17:30 The Future of Inclusive Tourism in India
18:00 End of Seminar- Feedback and Questions from the day

We invite the travel industry colleagues to attend the seminar and take

advantage of this great learning opportunity.

For registration and participation details, please contact:

Ms. Deepika Chowdhry- Event Coordinator
Phone: +91-11-41652406/ +91-11-41652410
E-mail at: admin@astaindia.com

ASTA Office bearers and members working on the seminar series:

Mr. Rajeev Kohli- President, ASTA India Chapter- rajeevkohli@travel2india.com
Mr. Gajendra Singh Panwar- Vice-President, ASTA India Chapter- directorgs@indoasiatours.com
Mr. Vishwas Makhija- Secretary, ASTA India Chapter- vishwas@luxuryindiaholidays.com
Mr. P N Narayanaswamy (Mohan)- Treasurer, ASTA India Chapter- mohan@travelscopeindia.com
Mr. N S Rathor- Member, ASTA India Chapter- garhatwo@vsnl.net
Mr. Ranju Joseph- Member, ASTA India Chapter- ranju@pner.com
Mr. Sriram Keshavan- Member, ASTA India Chapter- sriram@bharattravels.com

Register today!

Seminar hosts

Delhi- Surya Crowne Plaza , Mumbai- Mayfair Banquets and Outdoors,

Cochin- The Casino Hotel, Chennai- The Park

Posted by rollingrains at 11:23 PM

July 26, 2008

To Our Students in India: "Extra Credit Homework"

One of the joys of opening up the real world of people with disabilities to others is sharing the moment when a light goes on and the seemingly vast distance between disabled and non-disabled disappears.

Sometimes we do that with a role-playing exercise, a discussion, an article or just in casual conversation.

For those who will attend the New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, or Chennai workshops sponsored by ASTA - India I offer the following online videos to trigger that moment. Welcome to the art and images of disability culture from around the world.

From USA

From Portugal:

From Germany:

From England:


From Brazil:

From USA:



Posted by rollingrains at 05:43 AM

July 25, 2008

Samarthya: A World-Class Example of Inclusive Tourism Promotion

One organization in India has distinguished itself on the national and international stage for innovation and expertise in Inclusive Tourism - Samarthya. It follows the path of "Promotion of a Barrier Free, Rights-Based Inclusive Society."

At the center of this remarkable organization are Ms. Anjlee Agarwal and Mr. Sanjeev Sachdeva. They have been trained in the Promotion of Accessible Tourism at Bali (Indonesia), 2000; Non-Handicapping Environment for Disabled People by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 2002 & Asia Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Bangkok (Thailand) 2004. They have in turn taken this training and put it to continuous use for the benefit of their nation and the region.

* Sanjeev and Anjlee have represented India at various International forums such as: International Conference on Transport & Mobility for Elderly and the Disabled (TRANSED), Hamamatsu (Japan), 2004;
* Panelist at the 2nd International Conference for Universal Design, Kyoto;
* Guest Lecturer at Osaka Municipal Lifelong Learning Centre, Osaka, (Japan) October 2006
* Resource Persons at International Workshop on Implementing Accessibility Regulations in Sri Lanka, Colombo (Sri Lanka) December 2006

So far Samarthya has conducted Access Audits (facilities checks) of more than 80 public utility buildings in various States, most of them with implementation results.

In addition, Samarthya has organized more than 60 Awareness & Capacity Building Excursion Tours for persons with severe disabilities to Indian places of historical, cultural, religious and tourist interests’ promoting the concept of Barrier-Free Tourism. Some of the places visited include Agra, Mathura, Bharatpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mt. Abu, Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Dalhousie, Chamba, Amritsar, Shimla, Kurushetra, Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Nainital, Lucknow, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mysore, Chennai, Tirupati, Goa, Port Blair, Bangalore, Gauhauti and Shillong.


* Access for All- Technical Brochure on Internal & External Design Considerations prepared in consonance with internationally accepted standards and building bylaws fourth edition in English, Hindi and Braille for Professionals, Administrators and Planners.

* Authored first Training Manual to promote Barrier Free Environment- Guidelines for Training of Trainers, 2005 published by Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). The contents as far as practicable, developed in Indian perspective with simple line illustrations, easy to understand format and result oriented case studies with photographs. Second Edition of the Manual is underway.

* Authored chapter in Handbook of Inclusive Education for Educators, Administrators and Planners, 2005 published by SAGE Publications; New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London

* Authored chapters in Work Book for In-service Teachers, 2006 on Barrier Free Environment in Inclusive School published by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

* Currently reviewing of first edition of Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Environment for Disabled and Elderly Persons, 1998 by Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, Government of India, is underway.

Other reports on Samarthya at RollingRains.com dating back to 2004 are available here.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:34 AM

July 15, 2008

Promoting Inclusive Tourism in India

On July 28 I will begin a four city workshop tour for travel professionals in India with Jani Nayar of SATH and Craig Grimes of Accessible Everything.

The first workshop will be in New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, Kochi, and finally Chennai. As Internet connectivity permits I will post travelogue entries along this tour sponsored by ASTA India.

India Wkshp Flyer.jpg

Wkshp New Delhi.jpg

Posted by rollingrains at 03:50 AM

June 10, 2008

Summary: Alaskan Travelogue

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." ~ Kenneth Grahame

Except maybe reflecting on it afterwards!

Below are links to each Rolling Rains post on exploring Glacier Bay, Alaska. Starting with:

Cruising in Alaska

It Would be Easier if…

Meet Annie Mae

Reporting from a Different Perspective

Journaling and Natural Beauty


Food – the Key to Nautical Tranquility!

Photos from Glacier Bay

My First Kayak Trip ( or Ode to the McKinnon Hugger and Crew of the Sea Wolf!)

Return from Kayaking Glacier Bay, Glacier Bay, Alaska

Sound Sketch – Multisensory Travel to a Glacier

Transfers – Aboard and Abroad

Resources on Glacier Bay, Alaska

Why Go?

After Tourism Alaska – Ripples of Inclusive Destination Development

“This I Believe” by Colin Bates ( A Man Who has Discovered the Core value of Disability Culture – Interdependency )

Co-Dependent Arising: Retrospective on Wheelchair-Accessible Cruising

Posted by rollingrains at 11:12 PM

Co-Dependent Arising: Retrospective on Wheelchair-Accessible Adventure Cruising

"The glory of God is humankind fully alive." ~ St. Irenaeus

As I hurriedly prepared for this trip an expected theme formed in my mind around the word "transfers." I anticipated movement from wheelchair to plane, plane to ship, ship to kayak and through it all movement further from daily patterns. What remains with me are still life vignettes and moments outlined against the movement of time. The transfers I recall in retrospect are more substantial than the simply physical.

Awe is the healthy human response to the expansive beauty of wilderness such as Glacier Bay, Alaska. It was evident in my shipmates aboard Sea Wolf. Curiosity, joy, gratitude, resolve, and camaraderie further marked the voyage as a time outside the ordinary.

This trip was the co-creation of all who set up the conditions for it to unfold. The foresight of Sea Wolf owner Kimber Owen who adapted the ship for wheelchair access set up the equalizing environment. The selection of wildlife-viewing sites was expert. The skill of the crew and the humanity of all who shared the trip made it easier to feel fully alive.

Even with huge grizzlies and powerful mountain goats, fluking whales and racing Dahl's Porpoises I leave holding onto the image a pair of hands that look like mine -- thin, curled, weak -- helping me put on a borrowed pair of gloves. What in another place appears only to be weak is what revealed the invincible resiliency of interdependence. Weakness exposed to weakness.

Awe is a healthy human response to a human fully alive. Disability is a medium of revelation. Glory in paradox.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:04 AM

June 04, 2008

After Touring Alaska - Ripples of Inclusive Destination Development


If my travelogue did not make it clear already let me compliment the arrangements made by Sherri Backstrom of Waypoint Yacht Charter Services in Bellingham Washington and the foresight and commitment shown by Kimber Owen, owner of the wheelchair-friendly Sea Wolf. Articles will appear in various publications. One went off to Sandra Vassallo at ebility.com in Australia this morning and two more are in process.

Pioneers like Kimber and Sherri shift cultures.

To get to the Sea Wolf ported in Gustavus, Alaska we flew in a six-seater prop bush flight from Juneau on Air Excursions. Not quite adept at accommodating passengers with mobility limitations the pilot's brute-force solution to not having the proper equipment landed me on the floor as I noted on May 24. They won't make many more mistakes like that -- and accessibility will improve for those who will increasingly come for early-season cruises on the Sea Wolf (i.e. after June 1 Alaska Airlines flies jets into Gustavus with a more polished passenger loading protocol.)

The night before the cruise we stayed at Annie Mae Lodge. The meal was sumptuous and the welcome was like family. The owners have built a stylish Alaskan lodge and given great detail to accessibility. My room had a roll-in shower. I can recommend Anni Mae. As our community provides them with business we will see the trend to inclusion spread to other venues including the towns single - but inaccessible - grocery store.

Alaska is on the "Must Visit List" of many travelers. To take the trip yourself contact:

Sherri Backstrom
Waypoint Yacht Charter Services

t 888-491-2949 or 360-656-5934

Posted by rollingrains at 05:01 PM

June 02, 2008

Resources on Glacier Bay, Alaska

One of the disadvantages of traveling on short notice is the inability to research deeply into the history and offerings of a place before visiting it for the first time. For those are considering an accessible cruise in Glacier Bay here is a list of links on the natural history of the region:

Glacier Bay National Park

Explore-a-Park: Glacier Bay


Alaska Magazine: Ancient Ice

Posted by rollingrains at 09:28 AM

June 01, 2008

Transfers -- Aboard and Abroad

All the activities, food, and conversation delayed me from exploring the two upper decks of Sea Wolf. The lift from the first to second deck is short -- just enough for me to fit.

May25-31SeawolfGlacierBay 619

The lift was definitely higher tech than the Alaskan Elevator in Elfin Cove!


And then sometimes the whole point was to not go anywhere at all!

May25-31SeawolfGlacierBay 620

Posted by rollingrains at 09:07 PM

May 31, 2008

Sound Sketch -- Multisensory Travel to a Glacier

Glacier Bay Ice-is-Melting

The diesel motor rumbles vibrating the ship until we anchor. Even so, this expansive wildness is never silent.

At night we drop anchor. No silence here either. We are at the confluence of the three chutes of the 65 mile long "Y" that is Glacier Bay. The long narrow spaces surrounding us pulse with the sound of living glacier.

The sound signature of glacial motion comes with startling clarity and frequency to where we roll on the sea swells. Sound travels to us down three geologic auditory canals. Sounds are guided down every unobstructed valley and inlet to this place. They roll along the water's surface and sheer rock mountain corridors.

Night falls. We listen to the conversations of mountains from this centerpoint of a world disappearing.

Appropriate, perhaps, that glaciers retreating at a lightning pace -- the fastest glacial retreat in the world -- would produce the sound of thunder. "Sumdum" in Tlingit.

Posted by rollingrains at 03:36 AM

May 29, 2008

My First Kayak Trip (or Ode to the McKinnon Hugger and Crew of the Sea Wolf!)

After years of trepidation about the stability of kayaks I finally got in one using this theatrical "high seas" entry method.

The Sea Wolf is out fitted with a surprisingly comfortable and secure device called the McKinnon Hugger. It uses an ingenious caliper action and, when attached to the ship's davot (arm & winch) becomes a surprisingly effectives way for quads like me to kayak.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:59 AM

April 30, 2008

At Parque dos Sonhos - Socorro, Brazil

Tirolesa de Panico

About 2 hours outside Sao Paulo is a town called Socorro. Adventure tourism is a central part of the economy there and Parque dos Sonhos (Park of Dreams) plays a leading role.

Among the activities adapted for people with disabilities are rafting, inner tubing, rappelling, canopy walks, off-roading and zip lines.

The top-of-class zip line ("tirolesa" in Portuguese) is called Tirolesa de Panico (The Panic Zip Line!). It runs almost 1 kilometer in the air, over a river, buildings -- and the edge of a very steep rock. Here I am after the 50-second / 1 km aerial trip. In this photo I am modeling the modified ultralight seating that is used for quadriplegics on this two-cable zip line.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:45 AM

April 25, 2008

In Sao Paulo for REATCH

REATECH begain with a splash. Nelida Barbeito of Argentina spoke at the opening. I was introduced also but not able to maintin a low profile (until afterwards when the conference video crew grabbed me for an interview in my rudimentary Portuguese.)

Regular Internet access has been difficult to arrange while on the road. Craig Grimes of Accessible Barcelona and Accessible Nicaragua and I have met up. He has been more successful n posting to his blog. Read his humorous entre, Corte Cabelo, for a glimpse of the trip.

Field trips include a site visit to the town of Socorro and another to Brotas. Both specialize in adventure tourism with siginificant investment and growing vendor eexperience in adaptied outdoor sports.

The Socorro experience will incude a zip line (zip wire; tirolesa) that is one kilometer long - plenty of time for second thoughts, Im sure!

Posted by rollingrains at 02:26 PM

In Sao Paulo for REATCH

REATECH begain with a splash. Nelida Barbeito of Argentina spoke at the opening. I was introduced also but not able to maintin a low profile (until afterwards when the conference video crew grabbed me for an interview in my rudimentary Portuguese.)

Regular Internet access has been difficult to arrange while on the road. Craig Grimes of Accessible Barcelona and Accessible Nicaragua and I have met up. He has been more successful n posting to his blog. Read his humorous entre, Corte Cabelo, for a glimpse of the trip.

Field trips include a site visit to the town of Socorro and another to Brotas. Both specialize in adventure tourism with siginificant investment and growing vendor eexperience in adaptied outdoor sports.

The Socorro experience will incude a zip line (zip wire; tirolesa) that is one kilometer long - plenty of time for second thoughts, Im sure!

Posted by rollingrains at 02:26 PM

July 18, 2007

Mercado Modelo (BA) & Casa da Cultura (PE) (Portuguese)

Como foi aqeula musica por Daniela Mercury, "I don't want to stay here. I want to go back to Bahia!"

Mercado Modelo em Salvador

O mercado Modelo, em Salvador (BA), é uma espécie de máquina de baianidade. Funciona assim: você entra por uma porta turista paulista --ou mineiro, ou alemão-- e sai pela outra porta meio baiano.

É que, pelos corredores desse mercado, o visitante entra em contato com todos os clichês baianos de uma vez só. Então, ao sair de lá, palavras como dendê, iansã, berimbau e tudo o mais que forma o léxico do turismo em Salvador parecem tão familiares como pai e mãe, cachorro e casa. Todos os dias, 2.000 turistas passam por esse processo de baianização.

(Mais: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/turismo/noticias/ult338u309714.shtml

Pois e. E quantos sao cadeiristas com nos -- o novo setor brotando no turismo?

O mercado baiano pasara por renovacoes. Sera acessivel?

Lampiao em Recife

Em Recife a Casa da Cultura, un mercado semelhante, e espetacular. Passei o meu ultimo dia em Pernambuco curtindo o velhao carcel

Da porta quase-acessivel genta ve o Lampiao marcando o grande nao-passa-cadeirista do premeiro andar. Nao preciso ninguem proteger a santidade do segundo andar -- a Casa falta elevador. E dize que a minha casa esta cheio dos tesouros turisticos do primeiro andar.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:44 PM

June 24, 2007

To Oakland, California: A Short Trip - A Long History

There is a comfort to culture. A shared history helps weave the tentative threads of introductions into a tangled web of conversation that does not want to end.

Whirlwind wheelchairs

Last night there was more than 100 years of disability culture’s history-making in the room as Deborah Kaplan hosted a barbeque and impromptu salon in Oakland, California. I look forward to her plan to plan to extend the ritual into the South Bay soon.

The evening was quintessential disability culture – unavoidably interdependent as the tasks of meal preparation, serving, and clean-up ebbed and flowed between guests of differing abilities. Held in a co-housing community, with food gathered from street markets and shops no more than three accessible blocks distant, the menu featured stories shared with humor and intelligence.

Looking up at the almost-full-moon illuminating the dinner table I could imagine the globe-encompassing view from that vantage point in space as an icon of the dinner scene. Names flew past trailed by short vignettes:

Ralf Hotchkiss told how Kalle Konkola, from Finland launched him into a project in Africa that eventually grew into Whirlwind Wheelchairs I recalled Kalle as whirlwind himself blowing across the University of Washington campus in about 1975 while I, his host, tried to keep up with him and introduce him to the university’s first Disabled Students Commission that we had just established. Both Ralf and I shared that we carried around Kalle’s trademark gift - wheelchair safety reflectors - for decades!

Deborah told evocative stories of Topong Kulkanchit leading her and a delegation of disability advocates through overwhelmingly supportive crowds of Thai citizens in the people power demonstrations overthrowing the government.

We caught each other up on the work being done by Rosangela Bermain-Beiler, Paul Longmore, Richard Gomes, Simon Darcy, Tom Richert, Marca Bristo and many more. We scanned through projects by ADAPT, recalling back to the days of Wade Blank, the W3C Web Accessibility Intiative, Vidyasagar, DNI, DPI, AAPD, SEIU, - and even AARP.

Ralf’s legends of boarding busses, trains, and especially, airplanes would be enough to satisfy any screenwriter of action and adventure movies. Rajiv Rajan, reinforcements are on the way when Ralf returns to his shop in Chennai. Bravo to the 100 community members who linked arms in public solidarity not only with Rajiv – but with thousands of us over the years who believe that “physiology is not destiny” and have gone on to prove it by implanting practices of Universal Design in every part of this world.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:18 PM

June 18, 2007

Travel Abroad Testimonials from the Disability Community

Documentation of Inclusive Travel is catching on all over.

If you have not been therre recently, you may want to visit TransitionsAbroad.com for their section on Travel & Disability. Here's a catalog of their offerings:

Simon Says Teach Abroad by Melissa Mitchell

The Accessible Himalayas by Mary Ann Davis

18 Tips for International Travelers: Survival Strategies for Going Abroad: A Guide for People with Disabilities by Laura Hershey

Accessible Melbourne by Anne Vize

Disability Travel in Egypt by Lynn Atkinson

Accessibility Overseas: Is There a Way to Get There? by Sharon Gerlach

Adventures in Teaching from a Wheelchair in Venezuela by Marie Sharp

Young Adults with Disabilities Explore World by Pamela Houston

Study Abroad in Ireland by Johana Schwartz

Study Abroad with a Disability by Beth Ocrant

Abroad with a Disability: Prepare Yourself for the Unexpected by Jennifer Kettler

Resources for Study Abroad with a Disabilities in Europe by Tracy Scharn

Study Abroad and Accessibility: Overseas Experience leads to Activism at Home by Shannon Cun Lin Huy

Diversity in Study Abroad: Ways to Include Underrepresented Communities in Exchange Programs by Carole Patterson

Travel With a Purpose by Pamela Houston

Why Not Visit the U.K.? by J. E. Killick

Paris by Wheelchair by David W.E. Smith

Disability Travel Abroad Checklist by Barbara Ballard

Traveling with a Service Dog by Tracy Scharn



Posted by rollingrains at 06:37 PM

May 21, 2007

Is Korea Accessible to Toursists?: Part 2

Scott Rains in Korea

A bit of press in Korea on Inclusive Travel, DPI's World Assembly, and the Active Aging Conference I addressed in Namhae:

Joonang Ilbo


Openwel ( disability newspaper)

Donga Ilbo


Chosun Ilbo:


Scott Rains in Korea 2

Posted by rollingrains at 02:39 PM

May 20, 2007

Getting to Know Seoul

Scott Rains Touring Seoul

This photo shoot in the park near the Korean National Assembly was fun. Access from the DPI office several blocks away was easy in a wheelchair. Navigating the park was also. In the the process I met a group from a Seoul Independent Living Center.

Not reading Hangul or understanding Korean I'll take it on faith the what is in this article is a close approximation to what I said:


Posted by rollingrains at 07:16 AM

May 14, 2007


with tv logo

How I wish we had [with]TV up and on the air already! What a program today would have made.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:20 PM

May 13, 2007

Press Release: DPI World Assembly on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

DPI World Assembly 2007  logo

News and Media Division

May 4, 2007

Is South Korean society, specifically, tourism, ready for the era of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that was adopted by the UN in December 2006? Signed by 89 countries including the Korean government on March 30, the Convention reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities have the right to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

To answer this question, Dr. Scott Rains is coming to Seoul on May 14 to tour key cultural sites and evaluate their accessibility. Dr. Rains, whose lower body became paralyzed due to a biopsy on spinal cancer, is an independent travel professional who manages a website on accessible travel (www.RollingRains.com) and a disabled rights activist. He will be visiting Imjingak and Odu Unification Observatory, sites symbolizing the division of Korea, and Gyeongbok Palace and Insa-dong, popular tourist sites. He will also be accompanied by the Korean Organizing Committee of the 2007 7th Disabled Peoples’ International World Assembly, an international gathering of persons with disabilities in September 5-8, 2007 at KINTEX.

With Our Rights, Our Convention, But For All as the slogan, the DPI World Assembly is a celebration of the convention’s adoption and an opportunity for serious reflection on the approaches for effective implementation of the Convention. With an expectation of 3,500 participants (1,500 abroad) for the Assembly consisting of 42 workshops in a 2 day conference, the Korean Organizing Committee is also planning various side events such as a music performance by persons with disabilities, a disability film screening, a parade downtown, and sightseeing.

Dr. Scott Rains (D.Min.) is the Director of Programs and Services at SeniorNet and Vacation & Disability Specialist at Ticket to Travel.

Following his visit to Seoul, Dr. Rains will speak at the May 16 - 18 Active Aging Conference in Namhae on gerontechnology as well as address a group of disabled and non-disabled youth of the region.

For information, please visit www.dpiwa.net; or contact Christian Park, tel. +82-2-761-0427, mobile. +82-11-9007-6270, email: contactchrispark@dpiwal.net.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:19 PM

May 12, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness on the Road: Embracing the Korean "Peace Zone"

Technically, so they tell me, peace has never been declared with North Korea. So, as I struggle with Asiana Airlines to provide me with even a modicum of service, images of conflict and war come easily to mind. Add to that the fact that after a brief rest in Seoul tomorrow I will be off to Imjingak with a reporter from Chosun Ilbo and the chair of DPI's sub-committee on Imjingak accessibility.

Reading the independent, pro-unification newspaper Hankyoreh set my thinking down a more peaceful path.

There is Free Hugs campaign in Korea. Virally transmitted by an online video of some Australians doing the same these random acts of human contact seem to be just the cure for disability aversion. As the Hankyoreh article reports on the video of this April 20, National Disabled Persons' Day event:

In many cases, it seemed like it was people’s first experience to hug a person in a wheelchair, as they tried to figure out how to bend their knees and lower their heads in the right way so that they could look their hugging partner in the eyes. After the hugs, both parties always wear bright smiles.
Posted by rollingrains at 01:03 PM

March 26, 2007

Reflections from C-SUN -- GAATES

C. J. Walsh and Cynthia Waddell are persuasive knowledgeable people. When each of them independently urges me to take a particular action, I do. (Well, actually, first I procrastinate and C. J. prods me to get with the program.)

In this case, both recommend the GAATES Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

As more Boomers age, and we require a new language as well as new practices and products that are inclusive, GAATES will keep the dialogue and product development cycle focussed on the Guiding Principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I am especially hopeful that they will succeed in mainstreaming Assistive Technologies and breaking down the self-imposed barriers to adoption of AT and UD erected by older adults as they encounter the limitations that come with aging.

Life is too short not to challenge stigmatization of the technologies that make life richer, longer, and easier.

From the site:

The Objectives of GAATES are :

1. To support the Guiding Principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December 2006 :
a. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons ;
b. Non-discrimination ;
c. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society ;
d. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity ;
e. Equality of opportunity ;
f. Accessibility ;
g. Equality between men and women ; and
h. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

2. To support Countries as they carry out their general obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

3. To promote and support the inclusion of women with disabilities, children with disabilities, people with multiple disabilities and aboriginals with disabilities in society.

4. To develop, promote and disseminate knowledge and information regarding the understanding and implementation of accessibility of sustainable built, social, and virtual environments, including architectural and infrastructural design, transportation systems, habitats, and electronic, information and communication technologies so that everyone, including people with disabilities and older persons, are able to fully participate and contribute to society by :
a. conducting educational sessions, including international, regional and local events;
b. developing and maintaining an informative website ;
c. developing, printing, publishing and distributing relevant publications and papers.

5. To promote and support the implementation of accessibility as an integral part of sustainable development.

6. To provide technical expertise in the development of accessible electronic, information and communication technologies.

7. To promote and support the implementation of accessibility as part of the building, adaptation, and re-construction of sustainable built, social and virtual environments.

8. To promote and support the implementation of appropriate accessible user interface technologies.

9. To promote effective communication through the provision of alternative formats, telecommunications, and electronic, information and communication technology products.

10. To assist Countries in their national implementation and monitoring obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the development of performance indicators and benchmarking.

11. To promote the legislation and policies which address accessibility by participating in international events and activities.

12. To facilitate capacity-building and the transfer of knowledge through organising and hosting international and regional conferences, seminars, and meetings and other events.

13. To raise awareness concerning accessibility of the built, social and virtual environments and its importance as a prerequisite for persons with disabilities and older persons to fully participate in and contribute to society.

14. To support the implementation of accessibility measures including the provision of accessible signage, care assistance and intermediaries, and new electronic, information and communication technologies and systems.

15. To provide technical support for the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk (e.g. fires in buildings), including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

16. To undertake projects supporting the objectives of GAATES.

17. To conduct educational sessions, and develop and deliver curricula for training programmes.

18. To collaborate and support organisations of people with disabilities and development agencies by providing technical support for accessibility of the built, social and virtual environments.

19. To conduct research and participate in the development of accessibility-related regulations, codes, standards and guidance documentation.

20. To promote the implementation of inclusive environments by removing barriers and by recommending innovative design solutions, thus allowing people with disabilities and elderly persons to fully participate in and contribute to society.

21. To engage in other ancillary and incidental activities related to accessibility.

Posted by rollingrains at 03:07 AM

March 21, 2007

From C-SUN -- DoCoMo Trumps iPhone with Universally Designed Cell Phones

raku-raku phone

The Aging Track here at C-SUN included a presentation by the team who produced the DoCoMo Raku-Raku universally designed cell phone. This, and several other models such as the dual-screen D800iDS phone, incorporate 60 Universal Design features.

A bit of serendipity - I ran into Chika Sekine, President of UDIT (Universal Design Institute for Information Technology), at lunch for the first time since the Adaptive Environments Conference in Rio de Janeiro. I sat with her at the presentation and had a chance to chat about the DoCoMo project.
Her influence on this breakthrough technology was everywhere apparent. She encouraged consumer constituencies like SeniorNet to agitate for products of this calibre of inclusion n the US phone market.

While today's presentation was not videoed this DoCoMo video weaves a narrative of technology and inclusion that gives the flavor of a business culture capable of such innovation. Note the footage from universally designed Takayama City:

The D800iDS DoCoMo dual-screen cell universally designed cell phone with touch screen:

D800iDS dual-screen cell phone with touch screen controls

A note for soccer buffs:

The D800iDS holds three pre-programmed phone numbers. The demo phone had an interface that was almost entirely in Japanese except for the page with the pre-programmed phone mumbers. First name one the list: "Ronaldinho". I called. Guess he was out.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:46 PM

March 01, 2007

Accessing Downunder

At some point during my groggy gaze out the cabin window I recalled that I was in New Zealand this morning. Maybe it was the fact that Spring-green hillsides rose up on three sides of me in one of the North Island’s typical steep valleys. Or maybe it was the ocean cove defining the fourth side. But I think it was the clowning Kea birds that clinched it for me.

Coming from the falling autumn leaves of Northern California at first I thought I was seeing a particularly odd bundle of green-brown sycamore and toyon tree leaves rolling down the hillside outside the kitchen window. With a few squawks and a flutter the mirage resolved into two quite contented Keas waddling their separate ways -- only to do an about face and have at it again.

I recalled watching sea otters back home in California, platypus’ last week in Tasmania, and now these two rambunctious earth-colored parrots reminding me that there was a time for work and a time for play. Today was for play.

The past two weeks I had traveled across Australia from Sydney to Perth as a guest of Tourism Australia to study best practices in tourism for people with disabilities. Invited also by Tourism Tasmania to participate in their Visiting Journalist Programme, I explored firsthand the compact diversity of that charming piece of Australia sitting offshore “under Down Under.” In Tasmania I found a unique circuit of 100% accessible lodgings under construction – The Devil’s Playground – and was hosted there thanks to the generosity of owners Kerry and Jane Winberg. But back to that later.

Northern New Zealand was to be a two-night stopover on the way home. It was a “reconnaissance flight” with my sister, Pamela, to prepare for a longer stay in a year.

Flying into Auckland International Airport the traveler with a disability is met with more than the usual number of pleasant surprises – not the least of which can be friendly New Zealanders (“Kiwis”).

The airport is manageable in size. Luggage carts are free (a particularly civilized accommodation for international visitors who don’t happen to be carrying pocket change in the local currency.) Restaurants and shops are fairly accessible although not one of the Internet kiosks were usable due to a seat affixed to the floor in front of each and a keyboard mounted to the eye-level desktop. A roll-in shower is available in the international travelers section. And, in this traveler’s experience, the competence and quality of customer service available at the Auckland International Airport Visitor Centre rivals the best I have encountered anywhere. The agent who worked with us helped us narrow down options and did all the work to research and book accessible accommodations and activities.

We chose to stay in Tutukaka south of the more well-known Bay of Islands. We discovered that rental cars came only with right-hand mounted hand control and required a three to six day wait (I believe that under current deregulation I can now purchase a semi-automatic weapon in the USA with less hassle) and up to $245 NZ installation fee. My sister drove. I called cadence from the backseat driver position, “Left, left, left. They drive on the left down here!” (On my return home I have resolved to be less smug as navigator next time. I caught myself driving on the left side of the road in San Jose!)

Arriving after dark at the small resort we had selected, I was disappointed to note the four-inch threshold to the front door from the well-constructed, extra-wide ramp and landing. My disappointment grew as I met the charming owners, who brought us some of their own dinner when they realized we had not eaten, because I saw their obvious pride-in-ownership for their newly-constructed resort. It is a particularly painful experience for me to point out where, accessible construction codes faithfully followed, a small business owner is still left with an inaccessible product. So painful, in fact, that I have undertaken a project to publish and disseminate a resource that addresses the gaps in legislation and imagination which lead to this all-too-common experience. As consumers with disabilities we cannot afford to fail to assist those who have made the good faith commitment to serve us with appropriate products.

The next morning my sister and I drove the winding ridge top road to the marina and checked in with Dive! Tutukaka.

Although the staff and crew are not Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) certified it did not take long before they had won my confidence. Transfer into Dive! Tutukaka’s purple and gold boats was a standard fireman’s carry. The folded manual wheelchair was stowed forward. For those preferring to remain in their wheelchair on the exposed section of the deck during the wild 23 kilometer ride out to the dive destination – the Poor Knights Islands – I would recommend suiting up beforehand and donning the biggest poncho you can find. The wash breaking over the bow inundates the roof and deck as these speedy boats race to be first to the best spots!

And what spots they are!

The islands were reportedly named by Captain James Cook who thought the flower bedecked islands looked like the jam on his “Poor Knight’s Pudding” (which is better known today as “French Toast.”)

This cluster of sheer-walled islands preserves species that are extinct or endangered on the two main islands. Underwater the cliffs continue downward creating what Jacques Cousteau rated as one of the ten best diving locations in the world.
Aquatic life at the Poor Knights Islands' dive. Photograph by Dr Geoff Green of Auckland, NZ.

Since 1820 the islands have been left uninhabited as sacred (tapu) following an invasion and massacre of one Maori group (hapu) by a competitor. In 1977 the islands became a nature reserve and now enjoy the highest degree of protection available under New Zealand law. Local plants and animals flourish in this environment. Marine life has learned that divers pose no threat and have adjusted to their occasional visitors.

After watching the non-disabled divers surface at the first dive site – a sheltered cove with cliffs rising 240 meters straight up and continuing down below the surface of the clear water, I chose not to dive. While the water surrounding the Poor Knights is moderated by a warm current from the Coral Sea, I knew that my body did not have the hypothermia recovering resiliency that my dive buddies were exhibiting. Instead I checked out their photos of the fascinating world below and took in the unique plant and bird life around us. This is definitely a place to return to for a dive in a warmer season.
Exotic sea life seen on the Poor Knights Islands' dive. Photograph by Dr Geoff Green of Auckland, NZ.

My purpose in traveling Down Under was to examine the implementation of universal design by the tourism industry and speak on inclusive destination development strategies at a conference on travel and disability. The NICAN conference, “Out of the Blue, Valuing the Disability Market in Tourism,” brought experts from around the country to Perth for four days of discussion, networking, and innovation.

Highlights of the event included launch of the state of Western Australia’s “Guestability” resource on good design and quality customer service for travelers with disabilities. The Perth Convention Bureau introduced a promising model called, “Beyond Compliance,” where venues receiving referrals from the Bureau to host conferences are required to reinvest 5% to 10% of their profits into facilities accessibility.

The state Conservation and Land Management Department exhibited their best designs incorporating universal design into outdoor access. Speakers addressed many other topics. These included results of an international study on the development of travel confidence by individuals with disabilities, regional studies of accessible Australian venues, strategies involving a whole government approach to destination development and a universal management approach to customer service.

Everywhere the facts and figures were laid out to underscore the sustainability of addressing the travel needs of persons with disabilities. Even now, before the aging of the Boomer generation dramatically increases the figures, there are 40 million Europeans, 42 million Americans, and 9.5 million Australians with disabilities. According to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by The Open Door Organization in 2000 the purchasing power of the American travelers-with-disabilities market is $13.5.

Wherever I traveled throughout Australia, I found evidence of a heightened awareness of the needs of travelers with disabilities. More so than in the US and Canada, the word is getting out to businesses Down Under that inclusive tourism is a profitable, growth-oriented market approach. Interest in Universal Design is high.

Following the conference I spent two nights in the southeast of the state of Western Australia. Access features were the first thing we heard about from our Aboriginal guide and musician, Josh “Kumal” Whiteland of the Wardani people, as we took a bush walk around the Wardan Aboriginal Cultural Center. Afterward he treated us to two jam sessions on the didgeridoo (“Didjie” in the typical Australian slang that shortens and adds “ie” to almost everything. “Wheelie” for “wheelchair user”, etc.)

Lodging nearby at Wyadup Brook Cabins was comfortable and accessible. Hospitality was splendid as Judy Fisher introduced us to the amenities of the cabin she herself had designed as a master project to incorporate best practices in accessibility. I even found references to universal design and the participation of disabled athletes in the upcoming Iron Man triathlon in the 32 page local newspaper that was left by the fireplace with the kindling.

Before the conference I was treated to an escorted, four-day whirlwind sampler of Tasmania by the staff at The Devil’s Playground.

In Hobart, down at the southern tip of the island, I stayed at the still-under construction Henry Jones Art Hotel. Except for a unique toilet that recalled some gymnastic equipment I have seen (it had no grab rails and the bowl stood at least two feet in front of the wall, for example) the room was comfortable. The mix of ultra-modern and loft-style exposed 100 year-old masonry and beams was quite appealing. Staff were eager to learn where they could improve the facility and their service to guests with disabilities.

Back up north in the Launceston region, we watched three captive platypus and strolled through an indoor butterfly garden – all wheelchair accessible – at Platypus House on a day trip through the Tamar Valley wine region. I heard Kookaburras. I listened to Tasmanian frogs with voices deep enough to compete with James Earl Jones for the voice of Darth Vader. I saw Black Swans, Native Hens, endangered fish species, and sprawling wetlands brought into reach through a network of boardwalks and bird blinds. Next trip I’ll build in time for the wine-tasting tour once I try all the wine I brought home with me and strategically pick my wineries.

On another excursion, we climbed the mountains beyond Sheffield’s mural-covered buildings in the Devil’s Playground’s lift-equipped van. Stopping at Dove Lake below Cradle Mountain there was both an asphalt path and a wooden boardwalk extending for several miles. Further east we spent the night in Tullah where an ambitious transformation is taking place. The Tullah Chalet is being retrofitted for accessibility. Accessible cabins and RV park are in the design phase. Local outfitters have adapted saddles for trips around Tullah Lake while a pontoon boat (Barbie – as in barbeque – Boat) is on order to further enhance fishing options. The resources available through the Devil’s Playground circuit of barrier free lodges around Tasmania is unique in y experience of inclusive travel options. In fact, I was so impressed that I will be leading an international gathering of outdoors-oriented people with disabilities who will converge on the site for Thanksgiving 2005. We’re calling it “Day in the Bush” after a similar program of more than ten years known as “Day on the Beach” in Santa Cruz, California.

Australia and New Zealand have a well-developed tourism industry. Both countries demonstrate in policy and in practice a positive orientation toward the needs and preferences of travelers with disabilities. General information is readily available on both destinations and accessibility information is available for those willing to research – or who have chosen a good travel agent. It appears that, for the near future at least, Australia in particular is casting itself in a light that is designed to attract and satisfy travelers with disabilities.

My advice? Take advantage of the hospitality, mate!



Tamar Valley

Dive! Tutukaka

The Devil’s Playground

Wayadup Brook Cabins

Wardan Cultural Centre


Cradle Mountain

Henry Jones Art Hotel


Auckland Airport

Global Access Disabled Travel Network

Originally published in Global Access Disabled Travel Network


Posted by rollingrains at 03:55 AM

October 28, 2006

Free Publicity for Hilton Hotels


When the Head Concierge himself asks me to post about an oversight in accessibility here at Rolling Rains I am ready to take a closer look at the values of his hotel.

It happened as I was checking into the Arlington Hilton last week for the SeniorNet 20th Anniversary Conference. Henry, the night concierge, was there to assist me from the moment the taxi pulled up. Showing me to my room (which, for some reason - perhaps a case of mistake identity - was on the exclusive Club Floor.) In the process of getting settled he pointed out to me that, in spite of his repreated requests to the management over the year, the bathroom counter in the accessible room 726 was too low and I would hit my knees on it.

Sure enough, I did. Several times!

Everything else about the hotel was superb. That prompted me to book with Hilton here in Anaheim where I will speak at AARP's Life@50+ Conference.



Service again is commendable.

This time the room - bathroom and all - is very comfortable and wheelchair accessible. There are low towel racks on the inside of the bathroom door. The handheld shower is installed properly so that it is reachable even when extended to its highest point. Grab bars are ubiquitous in the bathroom but at the same time blend with the color scheme. These are fine points often overlooked in a "compliance to ADA is sufficient" hotel - and they make all the difference in the world when I am decided who gets my business.

Someone at Hilton understands the difference between stylish and sterile!
Since I seem to be in this area frequently for conferences I found a place that is almost as comfortable as home.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:46 AM

October 24, 2006

Crisscrossing the USA

Speaking at the SeniorNet 20th Anniversary Conference in Arlington, VA provided an unexpectedly rich opportunity to review travel accessibility. Jetting directly to Internet Librarian extended the adventure. On to speak at AARP's Life @ 50+ on Thursday.

After recent flights on Delta’s Canadair aircraft outfitted with rock-hard seat cushions it was a relief to fly United (with a Roho cushion under me!) In my experience, United was one of the slower airlines to catch on 20+ years ago to accommodating disabled passengers with dignity. They won my loyalty with their improvements over time. However on this trip, on both flights, I was ignored by the flight attendants on landing and left to establish social dominance on my own with the SWAT-like teams of passenger helpers that descend on disabled travelers who are still waiting onboard 20 to 30 minutes after the first passengers have deplaned.

Developing a rapport and communicating with the hired hands that the airlines use to schlep passengers in and out in the narrow airplane aisle wheelchairs can be an art. It reminds me of my childhood dream of bring an interpreter for the UN. I offended a Sudanese man when I guessed that he was Ethiopian, pleased a team of Somalis when I picked up some of their conversation and guessed correctly, and felt the familiar powerlessness on another flight as a Filipino man – with questionable management skills – explained to an Arabic speaking trainee how to strap in “that crippled man.” All are doing their best but clearly battling the handicaps of undertraining, overscheduling, and overcoming poor aircraft design such as armrests that do not lift out of the way and aisle widths with zero tolerance for error.

Other than having my wallet stolen by the United Airlines employee who carried my backpack into the cabin and the crew in Sydney that wanted to pass me across the gap between the jetway and the airplane – strapped to a narrow aisle chair – getting on and off a commercial flight has become about as routine and uneventful as loading any other piece of luggage.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:33 PM

August 08, 2006

Visual Delights From Norman Montifar

This weekend the RollingRains Travel With a Disability photo & discussion group was launched at Flickr.com. This week I want to profile just a few of the more than 35 people who joined in the first three days.

Norman Montifar is a professional photograper from the Philipines residing in New York City. He enjoys travel. He also happens to have had polio as a child.

You can see Norman's spectacular work at Norman Montifar.

You can also see some of it at Rolling Rains - Travel with a Disability the new Flickr group on travel & disability.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:41 AM

July 05, 2006

Artists in Residence

Meet J. L. Chuites, leather sculptor and teacher of the leather arts. j l chiutes

Intimate Apparel, The Winter's Tale, and The Importance of Being Earnest were the productions that drew me to Ashland, Oregon and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival - theater (& accessibility) tales for another post.

Surprise and paradox abound in Ahsland. Beyond the bear who frequents Lithia Park (who I did not meet) I encountered a deer -- who seemed to be watching the Wendy's longingly from the bushes one morning at breakfast time. But the unique ecosystem of Ashland is the performing arts and artisan class.

Strolling the waterway artisans' market I was captivated by jewelry of recycled glass and native gemstones, photography of the outdoors, sculpture, painting, and the soft art of textiles. All were quality but all were somewhat expected wares for an arts fair.

J. L Chuites' booth was a surprise. His work uniquely exemplifies the thespian spirit that permeates Ashland. His medium is leather. His art is the mask.

Quite tempted to leave with a lighter wallet and several of the masks I saw, I restrained myself, took his business card, and asked if I could take his photo. I did not realize until then that he also has a disability.

For more on J.L.'s work see http://www.leathershaman.com or write him at jaxonchuites@yahoo.com.


Posted by rollingrains at 02:10 AM

July 03, 2006

Lithia Park Provides Wildlife Adventures

From the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Box Office, safely above Lithia Park, the ticket sellers attend to playgoers sometimes offering friendly advice, "Watch out for the bear in Lithia Park."

The first time I was here - recently sprung from the hospital by my best friends from high school - the strategy for deterring overnight camping in the creekside park was signs. Now they seem to have turned over enforcement to the forces of nature!

We saw no bears. Then again, we did stop meandering the trails of Lithia Park before curfew having experienced the terrifyingly convincing bear growl during the death of Camillo during the matinee performance of "A Winter's Tale" in the Angus Bowman Theater. I wonder where they got that recording?

Along the creekside path, behind the business district, artisans show their wares on weekends. Dan Elster's wildlife photography was stunning.

It was not so much the array of North American wildlife he has captured but the composition. Every piece that he had on display in his booth contained some element of drama - one wing akimbo as a hawk stretched on its persh, one foot held mid-step as an egret stands fishing, eight pelicans overhead on a telephone wire.

See his work, and read his philosophy at Elster Photography.

Posted by rollingrains at 03:32 PM

Mt St Helens Recovery

The drive to and up Mt St Helens offers quite a vista. It is a reminder of the awesome power of a volcano to see "matchsticks" laid out like a repeating pattern on the slopes only to discover up close that they are age-bleached trees - some twice as big around as telephone poles - blown down by the blast.


In some spots whole ecosystems are returning as whith this roadside colony of Erythronium.

For those following the subtheme on this year's North American liliy species, the Lilium columbianum on Route 131 at the base of Mt St Helens are about two weeks behind the colonies in Del Norte County, California and Mt Baker and Mt Rainier in Washington State.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:18 AM

July 02, 2006

Ashland Shakespeare Festival: Food & Lodging

After a long drive to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival lodging is the first order of business -- quickly followed by food.

Don't expect to just drop in here during the festival and easily find lodging. Plan ahead. Making plans I chose the Windmill Inns because of the 110% service motto (and because I procrastinated reserving an room at one of the few bed & breakfasts with wheelchair-friendly rooms.)

When it comes to dining in Ashland Duane seems to be the man to know. See his site Duane's Ashland Restaurant Review

Posted by rollingrains at 12:53 AM

July 01, 2006

Red Lion Inn, Portland, Oregon

Along the Columbia River Gorge there are plenty of interesting and challenging site for rock climbing. What I didn't expect was that the same techniques would prove useful trying to climb into bed at the Red Lion Inn in Portland.

red lion inn -gymnastics

Captivated by the "shoulder-height-bed" craz,e Red Lion on the River is not recommended for folks of short stature, those with difficuty climbing or wheelchair users traveling alone.

That is unfortunate because their restaurant service was good and the food well prepared. Watching sailboats, barges, and later fireworks displays out the window on the Columbia River made the dining experience one to recommend.

You can even chose betweentwo competing soundscapes -- early 50's in the restaurant or disco building in crescendo through the evening in the adjoinging bar. Too bad Universal Design wasn't on their playlist.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:09 PM

June 30, 2006

A June Floral Tour of the Pacific Northwest


Outfacing Erythronium on Mount Baker.


Downfacing Erythronim on Mount Rainier.


Digitalis purpurea on the Nooksack river.


Cornus canadensis
at Nooksack Falls.


Lilium columbianum near Mount Baker.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:43 AM

June 27, 2006

More on Mt Baker, Washington

adult bear

Some readers wanted more bear photos. Having "risked my life" for the sake of photojournalism here is mother bear overseeing her inquisitive twins.

mt bakerski lodge

Mt Baker has a ski lodge that is accessible.
heather meadow.jpg

The lake here at HeatherMeadow has a pier -- if you can negotiate the trail to it.

Posted by rollingrains at 12:54 AM

June 25, 2006

Mt Baker


Momma bear had a close eye on the twins as they peered at the human being rolling past today on Mt Baker at the northern end of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:31 PM | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

Mt Rainier National Park

mt rainier inn.jpg

Mt Rainier Inn has an accessible entrance. Narada Falls is best seen from the road due to inaccessibility. Further up the road Paradise offers a vista of the alpine surroundings and an accessible restaurant.

As at Crater Lake there is lots of reconstruction going on this summer. The lodge at Paradise is undergoing major renovation.

In spite of all the congestion a fox paraded through the parking lot and disappeared through a patch of Avalanche Lily (Erythronium).

falls near Paradise.jpg

Posted by rollingrains at 03:58 AM

June 19, 2006

Out to Lunch

Rainier Railroad

One of the towns at the base of Mt. Rainier is Elbe, Washington.

A fun place to stop for a meal is the Mt. Rainier Railroad Restaurant. Right next door a whole caravan of cabooses make up the Hobo Inn. The restaurant is accessible by ramp. The cabooses did not appear to be.

The owner is the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad

Hobo Inn
54106 Mountain Highway East | P.O. Box 921, Elbe, Washington 98330

Posted by rollingrains at 11:19 PM

On the Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail

Westward Expansion was the phenomenon of settling the western United States -- and a major emphasis in the grade school curriculum of the educated in these western states. The Oregon Trail played a central role int heat era. Here is a park just outside Portland, Oregon dedicated to that piece of history.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:07 PM

June 18, 2006

Grant's Pass, Oregon

"Rascals" is the name of a booming computer support group by and for seniors in this charming town along the Rogue River. As a river runs through it the town has at least the start of Venice's alternate transportation system - but you might find a gondola's performance not to your liking in the white water. Kayaking is the sport here.

In town on business I flagged down a fellow in a three wheeled scooter navigating the surprisingly congested downtown maze. After checking in with various social service and voluteer groups like RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), and those savvy Rascals, I followed a lead on a residential development incorporating Universal Design.

For the past several decades Grant's Pass has had a reputation as a desirable place to retire. As the sign welcoming you into town reads, "It's the climate." I would have to add, from my multple experiences of stopping folks on the street to get directions, because my Prius' on-board GIS protested ignorance of the area, that its the people too. But design for people seems to be a hallmark of the town as well.


Spring Meadows is popping next to Spring Villages retirement center. The units have all the earmarks of Visitability and Universal Design - human-scale construction including flush front, rear, and garage entrances, an open floorplan, and other design considerations. If this project represents a broader consensus on UD in town then one might find rant's Pass a good choic for something longer than a summer weekend stay.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:58 PM

June 17, 2006

Crater Lake, Oregon


This is not the classic shot of the lake and its distinctive cinder cone island. Today the caldera walls and sweeping snowfields seemed especially photogenic.


Visitors note: Caldera Village is under construction this summer and is inaccessible to all.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:25 AM

June 16, 2006

Yes, but I Need a Roll-Out Shower, Too!

The Oakridge Inn Best Western Hotel has excellent wireless internet for guests and that's just the start of the service I received there.
Oakridge Best Western

Tamie, the manager, popped out of the office (slippers and all) so that I wouldn't have to unload the wheelchair and come in to check room availability. I was in luck. This ample non-smoking room was open.

With some more help from Tamie rearranging furniture to access the electircal outlet blocked by the media center cabinetry the night's rest was refreshing. What was not was to discover a three inch drop into the "roll-in" shower. Sorry folks, whoever designed that wheelchair trap needs to be taken out behind the shed for some learnin'.

When we say, "roll-in shower" we assume that the ability to roll back out is implied!

If you are in Oakridge, Oregon outside Eugene, traveling alone, and need a wheelchair accessible room I'd recommend rolling past this one until the shower is fixed. That recommendation comes with regrets because the service was so notable (and coming just to play with the "welcome cat" lolling around in the front office has itsown appeal.)

Posted by rollingrains at 04:29 PM

Meet Robert Menzies,TAB


Robert Menzies is an ethnobotanist. His specialty is psychopharmodynamics.

Iif you needed confirmation that he has a sense of humor look no farther than the fact that he has chosen to live in Weed, California. Yes, there really is a town named Weed. It sits at the base of Mount Shasta looking up at the mountain's snow covered top to the east -- wi th its occassional lenticular cloud looking like a jauntily place tam cap.

Robert's passion for native plants led to the creation of Menzie's Natives Nursery and thus my sidetrip to ask his expert help on growing California's native lilies. He is a fount of knowledge about more than flora. He has recently been reflecting on what it means to be a TAB (temporarily able bodied.)

When we spoke he had just returned from a month in China. There, along the border with Tibet, he was able to leave his cane and walk unaided. Working with traditional Chinese medical practitioners he was able to return once more to the ranks of the temporarily able bodied. His previous experience of several months in a wheelchair is going to change the layout of his nursery -- and further inform the work he does with California's state parks.

There is never a time when the pain, stigma, and discouragement of disability is something I wish for someone else. However, meeting someone like like Robert who has lived his disability well and distilled wisdom from it reminds me again why I find hope in disability.

Some people's lives prove what Susan Wendell wrote in The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability:

Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, 'normal,' and sane....If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.

Thank you, Robert for joining in the dialogue and adding to that knowledge for us all.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:52 AM

The Man with the Halo in Eureka, California

Comfort Inn Logo

Jack wears the unmistakabe four-pointed bindi of those who have suffered excruciating pain.

I lost concenration as soon as I saw the four scars in his forehead. He was checking me into his Comfort Inn in Eureka, California but I wanted to know his story. If you have been around the disability community long enough you learn to recognize the marks from the screws set into the skull for holding a "halo" traction device.

I never had the chance to ask Jack just what part of India he came from but I did congratulate him. Too few who wear that particular badge of courage are fully ambulatory and without a permanent disability.

If ever you are in Eureka needing a place to stay look up Jack's Confort Inn. At every turn during my one night's stay I was double teamed whenever I had a need -- staff showing up at my car to help me get out, to carry my luggage, holding the room door open for me.

Oddly enough, when I mentioned the scars to the staff they had no idea what they were from. Apparently Jack models excellent service to his employees even without telling them his own personal brush with disability.

That's good leadership.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:46 AM

June 15, 2006

The Yurok Tribe

The Yurok people have a distinction not many can claim. Frequently someone will find huge Roosevelt elk in front of their homes!

My travels have been taking me all around Indian Country this year. Today was along the Klamath River in California and the home of the home of the Yurok. If anyone had asked, I suppose I could have told them, "Rekw-woy kee nue hey-gok" ( I'm going to Requa.) The hisoric Requa hotel is visible right off Highway 101 and offers a spectacular hillside view of the mouth of the Klamath River. On closer inspection I found no invitation built into into this inviting-looking place -- there were stairs in front and no apparent ramp or appropriate parking. Exclusion by design is a life limiting reality. Disabetes, and thus wheelchair use or amputation, has as a high incidence in Indian Country. Even to capture local tourism and dining customers, or to provide employment opportunities the travel & hospitality industry needs inclusion.

The flow of tourists stopping off to watch nature was constant. Clicking away to my right as I shot the placid elk herd above were three German college students. This little corner of the world, tucked away in northern California north of Orick, is only as inaccessible as bad design makes it.

Foregoing the commercial attractions I focused on the surroundings. The foxglove (digitalis) up the road at Big Lagoon was in bloom as were the Lilium columbianum further south in Del Norte county. Spring is late in this part of the world this year but still quite beautiful.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:42 AM

March 30, 2006

Fishing From the Cliffs of the Amalfi Coast

High above the surf - and I mean high, like several hundred feet - a small knot of anglers were wetting their lines over the edge of the (barely) two-lane Amalfi Highway. We had just crossed over a deep cleft in the rock where the bridge spanning it was the original Roman construction. We continued through a tunnel in the promontory that was blasted open as part of Mussolini's nationalization program when we came upon the group.

I have always enjoyed fishing - especially fly fishing using flies I have tied mayelf - one of the more active styles of fishing. I just might buy this gadget below for a day when I'm in the more sedentary mood necessary for baitcasting. But what I saw there along Italy's Amalfi coastline looked a little precarious than anything I've tried in a while.

wheelchair fishing pole holder

I am not sure what they catch there - although I would wager that the long haul up from the water might make anything look like the dried fish in the market.

Anyway, I don't think I'd use the Wheelchair Fishing Pole Handler in that spot unless I knew my rope was tied off well and I had somebody sitting in belay position in case I caught anything heavier than an anchovy!

Posted by rollingrains at 04:33 PM

On Mercenary Blogging @ Zirma.com

Along with an endorsement of the Rolling Rains Report Zirma.com has a timely reflection on journalistic standards and the use and misuse of blogging.

Sponsored blogs and a conflict of interest

We could hypothesize that one of the reasons why many people read blogs is becase they find them more reliable. That is, they’re produced by common people, not professional journalists. In the travel area, newspapers supplements and magazine articles are not always quite believable. All of the destinations are beautiful and, apparently, the traveller never has greater problems. Facing this, bloggers stories, who generally travel as mere tourists to the destinations they visit and pay the ticket with their own money, are usually pretty different. No one treats them better, simply; they’re not journalists and no one knows they will write a note about that destination that will probably be read by thousands of people in the Internet.

But this is changing. For some months now, some tourism agencies in the United States have started to pay bloggers to make references to certain locations. The trend is strong enough to make journalist focus on it. For example, the newspaper USA Today dedicated a note to “sponsored bloggers” analyzing the cases of blogs that tell stories of travellers in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, but that are actually sponsored by the tourism offices of the place. The main problem is, at least in the case of Milwaukee, readers are not aware of the district’s “financial help”.


Posted by rollingrains at 12:03 AM

March 29, 2006

An Exchange Student's Experience in Italy

Robin Smith reflects on an exchange program in Italy in "Observing Inclusive Education in Italy"

Her observations on travel as a person with a disability are worth quoting:

For people with disabilities, I would like to communicate about the interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of exchange programs. A handicap I experienced was the difficulty of establishing natural friendships and having peer interactions that were not influenced by my having been introduced to my fellow sojourners as a person in need of assistance. Although I had a wonderful time and made excellent connections with some of my companions, near the end of the trip people were tired and functioning on "one cylinder," which resulted in some awkward moments of isolation. I would recommend asking if it makes better sense, when traveling as the only person with a disability on such an excursion, to have at least one peer with whom you have a prior relationship and who is not the main person designated to assist you. This should not be read as a negative but only as a question to pursue as part of the quest to overcome some barriers built into the American culture. While I’d choose to have this experience again, I can't help but wonder if those moments would have been different if "the children had belonged together" when we were in elementary school.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:54 PM

March 28, 2006

Charming International Hotel - Napoli Airport


Yep, that is the name of it, the "Charming International Hotel," a three star hotel backed up against the Napoli Airport. Part of the Italy Hotel Club the place has a slighly ramped entrance and a well designed accesible room on the first floor. Right across from the room is a terrace with a view of the busy street.

The door to the accessible room is extra wide. Light switches are toggle and at mid chest for someone sitting in an adult wheelchair. The shower is roll-in although rather small. It has a grab bar but no fold-don shower bench. (It quickly rusts wheel bearings to shower in a wheelchair. I alwas carry two extra sets for situations like these.) The sink height is adjustable. The toilet functions as a combined bidet. It has a notch cut out of the front of the bowl wide enough for the hand-held shower on the wall which is within easy reach.

Internet access is free and the hotel staff is attentive. The concierge explained that his cousin who uses a wheelchair and travels has educated him. Bravo!

The Charming International Hotel serves our purposes well as a place to wash up and rest before the intercontinental endurance test begins at 6 AM tomorrow. It may serve well for the budget minded as a place to wash up and sleep off jet lag for a first night in the Naples area - but it is not convenient to the city for easy sightseeing.

The neighborhood is not inviting for an evening "passegiatta" but La Luciana pizza restaurant three doors to the left is a gem. It is a family run neigbrhood institution - kids & neighbors stopping in, pizza flying out the door for delivery via moped.

Thirty-one varieties of pizza show up one the wall menu - but I am sure you can order a custom creation. We had the house specialty - a "rolled pizza" with the local (water) buffalo milk mozzarela, arrugula, and local ham. The chewy crust comes out of the wood fired oven looking like a dalmation with black spots on white.

Three steps to get in but, like I said, plenty of neighbors around to flex some muscles and heft you in or out.


Posted by rollingrains at 11:37 AM

March 27, 2006

Positano, Amalfi, & Ravello

The trio that defines "doing the Amalfi Coast" Positano, Amalfi, and Positano are a challenge by wheelchair!
ravello overlook

In Positano we made it as far down the steep streets to the "Residencia Gioia." It was never clear to me if this was the home of the Gioia who invented the compass and launched Amalfi into worldwide naval history because, sitting at the top of the stairs to the church plaza below, I attracted an energetic team of waiters. They were on the way down the hill past me to their afternoon shift at "Le Tre Sorrelli" Restaurant right on the beach. Needless to say, after a bit of trilingual negotiation (Italian, English, and an improvised hybrid with lavish hand gestures), so was I!

The day was warm and wonderful. It is pre-season for tourists so only one other table was occupied at the restaurant. Of course, one of the two people at that table was from San Jose, California - a graduate of Presentation High School.

Returning was another adventure. Threading the byways of Postitano are small flatbed electric trucks. The waiters flagged one down and we hitched a ride back up to the upper level along with some svelte manequins as yet to be outfitted with this year s latest style -- or maybe clothing optional is this year s latest tstyle here, too early inn the season to tell.

Amalfi allowed our driver, Alfredo, to drive us all the way down to the beach with a drop off in front of a great seafood resaurant in the cove. That left only a short time for a photo of the Gioia statute on the beach and a peek at the stunning enclosed plaza at the foot of the church.

In Ravello disability again had its benefits.

The medeival archway to the town plaza was barricaded to motorized traffic and guarded by the carabineiri. Alfredo got us through and we spent a few afternoon minutes enjoying the picturesque square.

By the way, my bout of Scrooge consciousness passed soon after Alfredo picked us up. He got an acceptable tip for his services. I expect he will use it to visit his finacee. She lives across the town street from us -- Los gatos, Caliofornia.

Piccolo mondo!

Posted by rollingrains at 03:39 PM

March 26, 2006

Design for Here in the Mezzogiorno - Capture the Sun!

Voltaic Messenger Briefcase

I am on vacation. I don't need a brief case for a couple weeks. But if I did, I'd want one from Voltaic. With its three photovoltaic panels for recharging the Rolling Rains Report camera I could sure use a wheelchair bag version.

Maybe I'll talk to the Gucci artisans up the road and see what they can whip up for me.

On second thought, maybe I'll just go sip a Limoncello. Seems like as good an excuse as any to head across the bay to Capri...

Posted by rollingrains at 08:06 PM

March 25, 2006

Capri Across the Strait

grand royal hotel in Sorrento

Capri lies to the West, Naples to the North, and the skyline's dominant feature, Mount Vesuvius, to the Northeast across the Bay of Naples from here in the Grand Hotel Royal in Sorrento. Set right cliffside above its own private beach (elevator closed until May) the hotel commands an unforgettable view day or night. Built about 100 years ago and annually updated it has a venerable feel of comfortable grandeur the marble tiled lobby is full of laquered dark wood furniture embellished with the region's famous inlay work.

The first room we were assigned on the second floor while designated wheelchair accessible and with grab bars in the bathroom had a doorway far too narrow for my narrow adult manual chair. To their credit the porter quickly arranged for an upgrade to the third floor. This room, with a few adjustments like removing the bathroom door, can be made to work but lacks either a rolling shower or usable bathtub. If this is the best available at Grand Hotel Royal I cannot recommend it based on accessbility to many with disabilities - especially if travelling alone. However, the level of customer service may make it right for the resilient and physically strong.

The owners of the Grand Royal and its siblings, the Maniello Hotels, we8re apparently told by Thompson travel agencyin the UK that they must adopt universal diesign or lose the steay stream of tourists booked through Thompson. To all appearances the owners have opted for obsolesence.

Today we are off to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello by private tour. Note again, the agent tacked an extra ten Euro over the published price when they saw the wheelchair. Nowhere near as much as I would have tipped them on my own for an eight hour tour but certainly all they will likely receive after that slight of hand.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:49 PM

March 23, 2006

Mushroom Weather on Capri

Vladimir, my taxi driver to the airport on the start of the trip taught me two things.

First, that the idiom "raining cats & dogs" translates as nonsense into Russian (but he was able to tell me the history of the English origins of the phrase.)

Second, that when it "rains cats & dogs" on an otherwise warm & sunny day it is called "mushroom weather" in Russian. Mushrooms do well is warm dampness.

So today we experienced the "mushroom!s dream tour" of Capri.

Leaving Naples from the old Carmine Fort via hydrofoil for Capri we had partial sun amidst sprinkles. Waiting for the return boat we huddled in the front of a small resaurant admiring the lightning.

The first thing to do arriving in capril is to get up onto the northern plateau at Anacapri. With a wheelchair it will cost you whatever the whim of the taxi driver (no accessible busses) cares to charge you. That is 20 - 25 Euros today.

Fortunately, the narrow sidewalk/streets in this charming hilltop village are wheelchair navegable. Although not all shops are accessible none are very large and you can count on attentive shopkeepers to cater to your needs on the street if show the internationally recognizable signs of being a paying customer.

Worth the walk is a trip out to the cliffhanging walkway outside the Villa San Michele estate (now museum) of Axel Munthe.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:11 PM

March 22, 2006

Just the Other Side of the Alps

on the beach

In an acute case of "the grass is greener on the other side" I find myself looking beyond Italy to the travel possibilities of Germany. The German barrier free tourism site has become quite a good resouce for English speakers with further links in German to National Tourism Coordination Agency for All People Federal Association for the Disabled

Posted by rollingrains at 11:27 PM

March 19, 2006

Offtrack in Naples

My Amtrak trek through Calofornia has me looking ahead to Italy - even as I spend the day in the sky today & tomorrow.

Life would be easier all Italian trains were accessible. (OK, being on time would help too.) I am told that Italy's high speed trains are exemplary for accessibility - and narrow gauge rolling stock is beyond hope.

Once you get inside, comfort and safety become important.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:43 PM

March 18, 2006

Planning For a Naples Tour

Slow Travel isn't a site about those of us with mobility impairments but it does feature the insights of a few travelers who have discovered what we all know -- that a vacation is not meant to be a sprint. Severeal hundred travelers have recounted their stories at the site. You can read them at your leisure here: http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/default.asp

I have been perusing the site for insights into Italy - specifically the Bay of Naples and south along the Amalfi Coast for the next Rolling Rains travelogue. Sorrento will be our basecamp for "concentric circles" of travel at a leisurely pace. And no, I do not intend to rappel through the hillside retreats of Positano and Ravello.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:03 PM

March 17, 2006

Goldilocks Loves Universal Design; Reads Danielle Steel

The last time I wrote about hotel beds I received hearty encouragement from Eleanor Smith, founder of the Visitability initiative. My search for the "just right" bed will never have the worldwide impact of Visitability. In fact, it may put a few people to sleep. But that's not a bad thing.

Many who travel using wheelchairs or with parents having mobility difficulties have lamented the trend toward "skyscraper beds." These extra high beds may make for enticing promotional photos with their long legs and impressive display of mattress-top quilting and padding. Short of installing step ladders for entry or taking a flying leap to mount them they remain out of reach for many.

The Marriott Suites Hotel in Anaheim, California has hit the "Goldilocks Zone" with more than its sensible height bed in Room 1401.

I chose this accessible room for the tub rather than the roll-in shower which inevitably rusts out my wheelchair bearings after about three days of use. The sitting room is ample and entry is smooth with a low friction carpet. The simple love seat is appropriately high and has firm enough cushions to work well for a transfer. An efficient tableserves as a desk with easy to reach lamp switch, wall outlets, and DSL cable. Someone was thinking "practicality & comfort" in this room.

Goldilocks would approve of the bedroom. The hotel's designers have not succumbed to the Viagra-era compulsion to add a few inches to everything in the bedroom. Envision the bed, for example.

Adding firmness where it counts the reinforced mattress edge guard doesn't disappoint with a limp sag as you move into position for a transfer. Rather than the "look but do not touch" stance of the currently trendy stage-high beds Marriott offers a voluptuous profile. The ample breadth practically heaves under the weight of not one but three pairs of pillows. Sneaking a first peek in through the doorway the whole room seems to ask, "What were you doing out there that was so important anyway?"

Cold showers available in the adjoining bathroom.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:11 PM

March 16, 2006

Turn Your Back on Pismo Beach

No, that's not the title of the internal memo written by the lobbyists who succeeded in allowing offshore drilling out the front windows of these multimillion dollar bungalows.

Literally look inland to the East as from Pismo Beach and take in the mountains.

Coming South on 101 I roused myself from a nap just before Pismo Beach to see the rugged hillsides. If you read rocks the sight is nothing short of terrifying. The tremendous tectonic forces that shattered the earth's crust here make witnessing Mt. St. Helens blow itself to oblivion seem inconsequential. These hills are the remnants of horizontal layers of rock pushed fractured like peanut brittle and thrust vertically into the blue sky.

When the shudder of recognition settled I was left humbled and in awe.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:33 PM

Oh, The Woes of Amtrak Travel...

Actually, it wasn't a bad as I feared (which says something already, doesn't it?)

The Coast Starliner mini-suite that I reserved for the San Jose to Anaheim, California trip never materialized. More to the point, the train itself never materialized. It was six hours behind schedule when I arrived a comfortable one hour before boarding time.

Yes, it appears that I am fated to begin my vacation experience early. I seem to have landed in Italian time even while still here in California trying to make it to the 2006 NCOA/ASA Conference. I have adopted "Romanitas" - the state of being that allows one to maintain equanimity in the face of simple tasks as they drag on to take millenia.

Robert, the quick thinking but Amtrak-speed acting ticketing agent at the station, got me safely onto the Amtrak bus. The driver took up my offer to me carried up the front stairs giving me a gorgeous view of California's early spring green along Highway 101. The driver offered to buy whatever I needed at the several stops along the 6+ hour excursion ending in Santa Barabara.

At Santa Barbara I caught the commuter Amtrak (no mini-suites) to Anaheim arriving two hours earlier than if I had taken the train I was originally scheduled for. (I never try to figure out the logic of train schedules. I satisfy my temptations to do so by convincing myself that trains operate in a parallel universe with different rules of time & physics.)

The Santa Barbara station is small, charming and retrofitted with short ramps in two of the front doors if you can find them.The lobby even has an old fireplace that appears to have long ago fallen out of use. For those needing to recharge a wheelchair there is a publicly accessible outlet -- sort of. Ask at the ticket counter for access to the outlet in the side room next to the men's bathroom. With enough layover time a trip to the Boardwalk is a must.

Unfortunately, the "wheelchair spaces" on this train were without windows. It hardly mattered. All the windows were dirty anyway.

Arriving in Anaheim at night can be beautiful. The palm tree lined boulevard near the convention center is illuminated very dramatically with several upfacing spotlights fixed to the upper trunks of the trees. What you see is a stark contrast between the brightly lit scalloped brown bark and the deep shadows it casts covered by an underlit canopy of green fronds. At intervals are lighting fixtures that are almost arabesque. The internally illuminated "light installations" add a softer element and a public ar feel. The lighting is sufficient and the neighborhood appearently sfae enough that I saw several folks in wheelchairs out for an evening passegiata.

Posted by rollingrains at 03:40 PM

All Roads Lead to ... Disneyland!

Here in Anaheim I have been going to Disneyland several times a day. (And you thought I was following the Universal Design track at the American Society on Aging Conference!)

Actually, I am doing both. The tourist transit system (Anaheim Resort Transit) travels between hotels using the main entrance plaza of Disneyland as its hub.

Each bus is outfitted with a Ricon wheelchair lift The design requires the driver to leave the driver's seat to open the access door from the outside, operate the lift, stap (or unstrap) the four wheelchair strap-downs, and then return to driving. Drivers and passengers have been wonderfully good natured about the tedious process but it is easy to wonder why accessible design segregation (disabled passengers as special afterthoughts) rather than Universal Design integration was not used to begin with.

Design considerations clearly went into making the coaches. The problem is its superficiality.

Each coach looks like an old red trolley - complete with parkbench-like wooden seats (retrofitted with thin padding due to passenger complaints one imagines) and leg room for the average nine year old Disney denizen.

I'd rate the system a marginal "good enough" for now but he cost in time and emotion due to thinking only as far as "cute" in the design phase and not doing the real work of human centered development must be quite high especially at peak tourism season.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:16 AM

May 12, 2005

Back in Northern California


Back home again, the team at Shared Adventures in Santa Cruz, California continues to amaze me. You can find more photos for their first annual Day in the Sky with Challenge Air at: http://www.dayinthesky.org/photogallery/

By the time you get through the all it will be time for their 13th annual Day on the Beach. Less than one month later they co-sponsor the first annual country-wide baseline study of Universal Design

Northern California is getting a feel for Inclusive Destination Development.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:09 AM

May 11, 2005

Taipei Plan of Action for Accessible Tourism

The Taipei Plan of Action for Accessible Tourism has just been released.

We, the participants of the International Accessible Tourism Conference, held at Taipei from 5 to 6 May 2005:

Recognizing that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Asia and the Pacific, and that people with disabilities and older persons are beginning to enjoy newly found opportunities for travel, sports, cultural, educational and entertainment activities;

Recalling that, to implement the extended Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Person, 2003-2012, the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Conclude the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, held at Otsu, Shiga, Japan, in October 2002, adopted the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asian and the Pacific;

Recalling also the recommendations and Bali Declaration on Barrier-free Tourism for People with Disabilities emerged from the Asia-Pacific Conference on Tourism for People with Disabilities, Bali, Indonesia, in September 2000, and endorsed by the Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, held in Bangkok in November 2000;

Recognizing that people with disabilities have equal right of access to all tourist infrastructure, products and services, including employment opportunities and benefits that the tourism industries can provide, and that people with disabilities should be provided with the same choices for all consumers, to ensure their full participation and protection of the individuals right to travel with dignity;

Appreciating that the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the Asian and Pacific Disability Forum have taken the initiative to organize the above Conference to discuss the major issues relating to accessible tourism for people with disabilities, with a view to formulating action plan to promote barrier-free tourism in the Asian and Pacific region;

Noting that, while the inclusion of universal design in tourism development can create environments, products and services that are useable by a wide spectrum of consumers, irrespective of their experience, knowledge, skills, age, gender, as well as their physical, sensory, communication and cognitive abilities, most tourism service providers do not yet recognize the importance of this issue, in the absence of explicit government policies and strategies, as well as a lack of training for tourism personnel on the rights and needs of tourists with disabilities and a shortage of tourism programs that are accessible by people with disabilities;

Observing that, Inclusive Destination Development facilitates the social participation of people with disabilities and enables barrier-free economic development by systematically applying the principles of universal design to the creation of tourist destinations;

1. Affirm our commitment to promoting accessible tourism for people with disabilities in countries in the Asian and Pacific region;

2. Develop and implement our empowerment programs, focusing on advocacy, facilitation and negotiation to work more effectively with the tourism industry, government agencies and regional and international organizations to improve existing practices relating to accessibility and to support the tourism industry in introducing universal design principle to tourism for all;

3. Assist in: (a) development of training materials on disability awareness in tourism education and training for use by the tourism industries and related fields, and (b) education and dispatch of experienced trainers with disabilities to training sessions on accessible tourism organized by the tourism industries and government agencies;

4. Ensure that information on accessible tourism be obtainable in accessible formats, including print materials such as brochures and pamphlets, as well as audio and digital medium such as Internet websites, by information and communication disadvantaged groups including older people, and people with hearing and visual impairments.

5. Cooperate internationally in the area of accessible tourism, building upon existing cooperation among countries in the Asian and Pacific region, especially through information and technology sharing to enhance barrier-free environments and transportation, as well as access to information;

6. Initiate collaborative efforts with governments, non-governmental organizations, as well as regional and international organizations concerning traveling and tourism, including International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Tourism Organization (WTO), UNESCO, International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA) and other institutions relevant to tourism, to include disability concerns into mainstream tourism activities;

7. Advocate that upcoming regional and international cultural, sports, entertainment and educational events, programs and sites be fully accessible by people with disabilities, including Hong Kong Disneyland to be open in 2005, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympics Games;

8. Form a regional network of concerned individuals, associations, organizations and agencies concerning accessible tourism to exchange ideas and personnel, share information among all the stakeholders and promote study on barrier-free tourism to improve the quality of life through accessible tourism, with a view to achieving world peace;

9. Organize regularly a regional conference on accessible tourism for people with disabilities and older persons every two years, beginning with a Tsunami affected country, to ensure continuity of our efforts to promote accessible and universal tourism.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:28 PM

May 09, 2005

Rebuilding Post-Tsunami Tourism


For several weeks before the Accessible Tourism Conference people sent in responses to the questions discussed in the Breakout sessions. Many are posted as comments at the suite 101 article, the First International Conference on Accessible Tourism - Taipei, Taiwan

At the conference itself, these two photos were part of the presentation on the rebuilding of Indonesia's Aceh Province given by Maulani A Rotinsulu and Erwin Fahmi of the Indonesian Disabled Peoples Association.


Posted by rollingrains at 06:11 AM

May 07, 2005

Opening Keynote Presentation

Below is the text of my opening keynote presentation at the 2005 International Conference on Accessible Tourism in Taipei, Taiwan.

In March of this year Steve Fossett made history when he took off from Salina, Kansas in the USA and flew his airplane, the GlobalFlyer, for 67 hours nonstop in a solo around-the-world flight. I have only one half hour to take you all the way around the world and tell you about accessible tourism. Fasten your seatbelts. This will be a very quick flight!

The story of accessible tourism as a growing part of the tourism industry could begin at many different points. Soon the first history of accessible tourism will be published in the Review of Disability Studies. The authors Laurel van Horn and Jose Isola explain how improvements in medicine have allowed disabled people to live longer; improvements in equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or computers that speak for us allow us to be more active; entrepreneurs and other risk-takers with disabilities have started travel agencies, sports leagues, and outdoor expeditions expanding our imaginations and challenging us to ever larger goals.

And always, there is the fact that year-by-year the Baby Boomers who love to travel become older and more become disabled. They will become the main characters in the next chapter of the history of accessible travel. Even before that, even now, this story about how we got to where we are today is full of enough heroes and villains for me to entertain you for a long time.

But we are taking the quick tour. I will let you read the article for yourselves when we publish it.

For today, lets start this tour of accessible tourism by looking a moment more at commercial aviation.

The airline industry now has mature airplane technology, well-tested airport design and a very large and growing customer base. It was not always that way.

Taiwan has 2 international airports served by numerous airlines and receiving thousands of passengers annually. Air links to the world are essential to Taiwans economic health. For many people, air travel has become as common as travel by bus, subway, or taxi. This is because the transition from propeller to jet engine airplanes made it possible for these large numbers of people to move across great distances rapidly and in comfort. Comfort may include pressurized cabins with oxygenated air for someone with compromised lungs, attendants to assist with boarding for those unstable on their legs, and space for equipment like a wheelchair or a companion animal for someone who is blind. Unfortunately, sometimes, the airlines are tempted to define comfort so that it serves only the few.

How does an industry innovate to survive once it becomes as large and taken for granted as the airlines? It looks ways to increase income from its current customers and looks to attract new ones.

When businesses realized that they must compete for our business or lose us that is when the story got interesting to me.

I believe that the travel industry, not governments or social entrepreneurial agencies will make the next revolutionary contribution to the rights of people with disabilities.

The travel industry will become promoters of our human rights because we have spent more than 30 years tirelessly forcing governments to treat us as real human beings and have created social and non-profit agencies to work for us. These laws and educational resources make it possible for something new to happen. The travel industry will find partners in government because tourism by people with disabilities can partially pay for the infrastructure changes needed to treat disabled citizens justly and meet the coming challenge of our aging populations. The travel industry will do this and is already doing this because it can profit from us.

As air travel expanded in the last 15 20 years there were also strong movements for the rights of people with disabilities around the world. You probably have all heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. It protects the civil rights of people with disabilities in the USA and allows them to participate freely in society. In the air however it is the Air Carrier Access Act, the ACAA, that regulates the industry and makes accessible tourism possible. In the airport and in hotels it is the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG). These regulations are made concrete through the work of designers like Coco Raynes and researchers like Kate Hunter-Zaworski who evaluates airline seating or Harry Wolfe who advises airport managers on the needs of older travelers. These pioneers use a design philosophy called Universal Design that seeks to include people with the broadest range of capacities and abilities in everything that it built.

So, what history teaches us when we start the story of accessible tourism from the airline industry, is that at a certain point the industry needed new customers. It was pressured by law to allow people with disabilities to become customers and it found technically competent individuals who understood the physical needs of people with disabilities. These technically competent individuals used Universal Design to make human rights real in our day-to-day life. They opened up new parts of the world to travelers with disabilities. Finally, we became treated as customers not patients or obstacles.

Today excellent studies exist on the tourism potential of people with disabilities. Some studies were done by the United Nations UNESCAP, by Keroul of Canada, and by the European Union but it was pioneers like Simon Darcy in Australia and Eric Lipp in the USA who gave tourism professionals the business tools they could use to act and to make money.

I encourage you to read From Anxiety to Access by Simon and the Travel Behavior Surveys by Eric. In fact, I would even suggest that someone here today take on the task of translating them into Chinese. I say this, not only because they are historic documents that launched the current phase of accessible tourism, but because we would all like to see similar studies on Taiwan shape the future of accessible travel in the Asia Pacific region.

Erics study found that:

The 42 million disabled travelers in the USA take 31.7 million trips per year, and spend $13.6 billion annually. Major areas of spending include $3.3 billion on airfare, $4.2 billion on hotel accommodations, and $2.7 billion on food and beverage. In addition, adults with disabilities patronize restaurants about once a week, and they account for $35 billion in annual revenue for restaurants.

Simons study found that:

On average 80-90% of all travel by people with a physical
disability is with a partner/caregiver, family or friends who do not
have a disability. Of those who undertook travel with other
people with a disability most traveled with 1-2 other people with
a disability.

That is a lot of people with a lot of money to spend and those are only consumer numbers from the USA.

It was the ocean cruise ship industry, not the airlines, who first learned how to turn those words into profit. When they created their successful business models they made accessible tourism sustainable. Part of their success came from understanding a simple concept that people with mobility difficulties know as the path of travel.

Cruise ships are compact universes. If you can conveniently locate a tourists necessities and guarantee that the tourist can get to them with minimal effort then you have a formula for success. In other words, do not just make a table in a restaurant accessible. Make a destination, like a restaurant, accessible from every possible starting point in the ship, or resort, or city. Create an accessible path of travel to an accessible destination and then you have an accessible product not just one special accessible item. You have a reason for tourists not only to pass through but to stay.

Today, whole regions, states, and countries are learning these simple facts. I want to tell you about some on our quick trip around the world. I hope that you will tell me about many more while we are together here.

To the south of us, Australia takes accessible tourism quite seriously for both domestic and international tourists. The Convention Bureau there in Perth, Western Australia has a program called Beyond Accessibility. It requires the hotels to use from 10% to 15% of the profit they make from the conventions brought to them by the Convention Bureau for upgrading the hotels accerssibility.

In Australias state of Tasmania, the Devils Playground does something unique in the entire world with the concept of paths of travel. Kerry & Jane Winberg have purchased several properties throughout the seven tourist regions of the island. Each location is fully wheelchair accessible. In addition, they have purchased their own bus with a lift. Thus, any place in the entire state can be visited in a comfortable day trip. As a result, the entire island is open to travelers with disabilities. I traveled around Tasmania as one of their first guests last September. We taught shopkeepers and tourist site managers about the potential of this market and what they could do to improve their appeal to travelers with disabilities. Now, my colleague Neil Robinson is doing an economic feasibility study to see if this model can be applied in Western Australia.

In the Atlantic Ocean, one of the Canary Islands known as Tenerife lies sixty miles off the coast of North Africa. There lives one of the pioneers of the European Tourism for All movement, Jose Ignacio Delgado. His work has strengthened the legal rights of Europeans with disabilities. He has promoted the civil rights and improved access to services for Canary Island residents with disabilities. He consults with the tourism industry and his accessibility directory for Tenerife is a model sophisticated online resource offering tourism information for travelers with disabilities.

Farther north in the Atlantic, the United Kingdom is developing accessible tourism very rapidly since their anti- discrimination act has come into force. One especially well-done project is the online travel agency and accessible destination datable known as the Good Access Guide by Richard Thompson. Richard is one of the 92 colleagues from around the world who I asked to help me research this talk and who have contributed to the online discussions we have going in Brazil, Canada, and the United States on the five themes we will discuss in our Breakout Sessions at this conference.

Also at this conference, we will learn about Japans leadership in accessible travel. Takayama city is only one example of the way Japan is teaching the rest of the world how to live with a spirit of inclusion. Their unique contribution is to recognize that older citizens benefit from the accessibility that makes a place livable and attractive to tourists with disabilities.

Architects, and their students, from the Rhode Island School of Design take a different approach. They are linking environmentally sensitive -green construction methods and building materials with accessibility. They are creating an accessible eco-lodge at St. Johns in the US Virgin Islands This resort, known as Concordia Estates, allows people with disabilities close access to unspoiled nature.

The tourist hotels in Hawaii have gone beyond simple compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. They can provide guests with comfortable accessible rooms, advise them on accessible places for food and entertainment, or arrange for things such as a specialized beach wheelchair to rent that will set mobility disabled visitors loose on the beach.

All these tourist destinations have learned the cruise ship secret of success. Disabled tourists will come when they find variety, value, service, and accessibility woven together seamlessly. They are learning to include people with disabilities as free and equal participants in leisure activities.

Now, notice something about these examples. Hawaii, St. Johns, Japan, te United Kingdom, Tenerife, and Tasmania are all islands. It seems that innovation in accessible tourism, at this point in history, is flourishing in places that are manageably small and administratively unified. Is it possible that an island like Taiwan will become a world-class example of accessible tourism? The fact that we are all gathered here for this conference makes me think that Taiwan plans to become just such a leader.

We have a name for the model that is developing in the areas that I just mentioned. We call it Inclusive Destination Development. The phrase combines two other phrases Inclusive Development from economic development practice and Destination Development from the tourism industry.

The World Bank promotes Inclusive Development as economic and regional development that allows for full social participation of people with disabilities.

Destination Development is the phrase used by the tourism industry to describe the strategic application of planning, development, and marketing resources to enhance a location as a desired destination for travelers. Inclusive Destination Development uses the word Inclusive, in the sense it is used by the World Bank, to mean allowing for the full social participation of people with disabilities.

Thus, Inclusive Destination Development is the systematic and strategic application of resources to make a location become a destination of choice for persons with disabilities. The goal of Inclusive Tourism is to accommodate the broadest range of tourists possible without stigma or the need for special accommodation. Inclusive Destination Development is the primary means of establishing Inclusive, or as we will be calling it at this conference, Accessible Tourism.

Inclusive Tourism is one important means through which persons with disabilities participate in society at a distance from their homes. At the same time, the presence of these tourists provides a model - and source of funding - for the inclusive practices and infrastructure necessary for these human rights to be extended to local residents. Inclusive Tourism partially funds Inclusive Destination Development. Inclusive Tourism is an example of democratization and the dissemination of human rights through a market-driven mechanism.

Earlier I mentioned the concept path of travel. When we design places so that people with disabilities can enter, participate in, and leave freely we also allow access for economic resources and the very concept of freedom.

At this conference we commit ourselves to building the Asian portion of this path. I look forward to building it with you. So do the millions of people around the world who will also come here to travel it.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:35 AM

May 05, 2005

Taiwan Conference on Inclusive Tourism: Takayama City, Japan

Quietly, "A town comfortable to live in is a town comfortable to travel in" has been the ideology leavening a new phase of Inclusive Destination Development.

During the Accessible Tourism Conference, Ms. Etsuko Ueno will deliver a report by Mr. Makoto Yamamoto on the town of Takayama City, Japan. (It has the geographic footprint of Tokyo and the charm of a village - what is the right word for it?).

In the central region of Japan with mountains, traditional crafts, and an imposing castle, Takayama presents a fascinating multi-use case study on Universal Design in city and regional planning. Here we have living examples of solutions that preserve cultural integrity; facilitate aging-in-place; manifest environmental sensitivity; and promote inclusive tourism.

See for yourself at:


Posted by rollingrains at 11:40 PM

May 04, 2005

White Paper on Disability for Antigua and Barbuda

By this point, before most lecture trips, I am well settled on what I will say and begining to anticipate the relaxation phase that comes after delivering the presentation. Perhaps because I will do both an opening and a closing bit or perhaps because I am anticipating the launch of an Asian Pacific network on inclusive travel, I am still quite involved in the research phase.

Reviewing the history of the "Inclusive Development" component of "Inclusive Destination Development," I came across a document from Antigua and Barbuda written in 2001. It is instructive to review the care with which this "White Paper on Disability for Antigua and Barbuda" lays out a national agenda.

I found sections three and four to be especially helpful:


Disability has traditionally been viewed as either a medical or a social issue. As a medical issue the communitys response has traditionally been to address the immediate issue associated with or causing disability by medical intervention either in the short or long term.

Upon the sufficient application of medical procedures to the immediate or apparent cause of disability, the communitys response to the disabled person was a social, or welfare response, often involving institutional or other care, as a benevolent response which resulted in separation of a disabled person from the general life of the community.

While the medical response is essential, and the social or welfare response desirable to a certain extent, to another extent these responses are in fact so limited that they have resulted in exclusion and segregation, the typical responses to disability issues. The traditional community response has been based on a balance of convenience which often does not take into consideration the rights of the disabled person to full participation in the society to the extent of his ability.



Today, due to the efforts particularly of the United Nations and of core groups all over the world and the initiative of some countries, disability is no longer seen as a purely medical issue, neither is the focus on the social or welfare aspect of disability requiring a benevolent response. Disability issues are now classified as human rights issues with reform in disability laws focusing on providing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities so that they can reasonably address the disadvantages of exclusion, institutionalization and segregation which are the traditional and typical forms of discrimination practiced against person with disabilities.

The United States has been a front runner in the world in encouraging this shift in focus and the Americans with Disabilities Act that was signed into law on July 26, 1990 is a key example of civil rights legislation for disabled persons. This Act has been very effective in replacing the focus on disability issues from welfare law to civil rights law.

Disability law, viewed from the perspective of the civil rights movement, has led naturally and gradually to the recognition of the human rights of disabled people, a matter that is being increasingly embraced by governments the world over.

It is therefore timely and appropriate for the State of Antigua & Barbuda in addressing Constitutional Reform to embrace disability issues as human rights issues, the appropriate starting point being our Constitution, the supreme law of our land.

I am wondering if there is a special signifcance then, a sort of self-conscious identity realignment, implied as a charitable organization such as the Eden Social Welfare Foundation rises to take the leadership in creating an organization to promote social participation from a human rights basis and further evolve the scope of Inclusive [Destination] Development.

Further Reading:

Disability & Development at the World Bank

The Biwako Millenium Framework - Disability Rights in Asia

Brazilian Disability Law

Getting the Design Right: Inclusive Destination Development

Inclusion and Disability in Development

Ethics and Tourism

Posted by rollingrains at 06:56 AM

May 03, 2005

Rosemary Musachio @ Audacity Magazine

As I fly from San Francisco to Taiwan for the first international conference on Accessible Tourism I am very pleased with the timing of the staff at Audacity Magazine. I will work Rosemary Musachio's article into our discussion sessions as we launch the Asia Pacific Accesible Travel League:

Airline Accessibility Keeps Us Grounded

Posted by rollingrains at 06:28 AM

May 01, 2005

Inclusive Tourism: Some Definitions

There has been a flurry of trans-oceanic digital communication at the Rolling Rains Report in preparation for the launch of the Asia Pacific Accessible Travel League. "Inclusive Tourism: Some Definitions" is one result. It was published today at Suite 101.com:


Posted by rollingrains at 03:16 PM

April 30, 2005

2005 Conference on Accessible Travel: Discussion Groups

Join the Discussion Sessions for the 2005 Conference on Accessible Travel .

Respond to the conference questions below and I will see to it that your ideas get a hearing as the Asia Pacific Accessible Travel League is launched at the Taipei Conference.

Before major international events such as the Taipei conference, postings at the Rolling Rains Report transition from news to travelogue to give you an insider's view of developments in the world of inclusive travel worldwide. It can be hard to regularly publish while I'm on the road but the blog provides a chance for you to participate without attending. Add your thoughts to the discussion below.

Discussion Topics

1. Accessibility and Transportation

(1) How tourism can bring about greater accessibility of buildings, places of interest and transportation: What models or case studies are available that illustrate a successful harnessing of tourism revenue toward local infrastructure development other than the Perth, Australia Convention Bureau's project, "Beyond Compliance?"

(2) Is there need for accessible tour buses and coaches to encourage families and friends to travel together? What are typical, or minimal, design criteria that could be circulated as guidelines?

2. Reform, Reconstruct and Build the Accessible Tourist Sites

(1) Inclusive Destination development is the systematic application of Universal Design in the planning and development of tourism sites in order to make them destinations of choice for the tourists o the broadest range of abilities. What exemplary destinations or projects are you currently aware of? What might a checklist of essential items to include in such a project look like?

(2) What new solutions have been developed recently to deal with difficult destinations such as steep/uneven terrain? Historical sites? Low-light or noisy environments?

3. Accessible Information

(1) Availability of accessible information in major tourism web sites, both governmental and private: What are the criteria for defining accessibility? What is the procedure for holding each site accoiuntable for accessibility? Who is the accountability contact for each site?

(2)Monitoring of accessible information in major tourism web sites Is this already being done? What agency would be appropriate to take responsibility for this task? What conditions are necessary to make this service economically sustainable?

(3) Networking of disability based accessible tourism information web sites: Which sites? How to organize the network?

4. Human Resources in Accessible Tourism

(1)Influencing Employers to hire People with Disabilities: Good straegies? Case studies?

(2)Lobbying designers, engineers, builders and policy makers to include People with Disability in Tourism Plans

(3)How to create seamlessly accessible environments for both employee and tourist?

5. Social Enterprises in Accessible Tourism

(1) What are the good practices of social enterprises in accessible tourism in participating countries/regions and the lessons learnt from their experiences.

(2) How to make social enterprises in accessible tourism economically viable business as well as to provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in cooperation with government sector and business sector in the tourism industry.

Posted by rollingrains at 07:12 AM | Comments (12)

February 26, 2005

Indian Country Inclusion

I still recall the shock I felt on my first visit to a Las Vegas mega-casino along the Strip. "Wow," I thought, there are more people in wheelchairs here than in any hospital I've ever been to!"

Today we visited the Pala nation to study the ambitious long-distance wireless network they have created connecting 18 tribes. We also visited the economic mainspring of the region -- the casino.

I stumbled across a back issue of Native Peoples magazine. It was the March/April 2003 annual Travel issue. There was nothing on inclusive travel and a call to the editor confirmed that there is nothing on the topic scheduled for the 2005 season either.

Too bad. As the hard economic data on the consumer power of this niche market is being acted upon by destination developers, hotel chains, and tour operators it would be a shame to see Indian Country fall behind in capturing its market share.

They already have a huge, loyal customer base among seniors and people with disabilities. Their facilities already inciorporate elements of Universal Design. They need to takle the next step to what Peter Rice calls "Universal Management" in order to become models of Inclusive Destination Development.

Further Reading:

Payback for Pala

Aboriginal Tourism British Columbia

Posted by rollingrains at 08:00 PM | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

San Diego

Flying "the Luv Airllines" -- Southwest -- on flight # 2407 to San Diego was easier than most boarding procedures. It was the service & attention to detail, not any secial technical fixes, that made it so smooth.

However, I think it didn't seem so straightforward to my seatmate and ZFellow Theresa Gonzales, Director of One Economy - San Jose. This is the first time we've traveled together. She had never encountered all the negotiating, educating, and boundary-setting that is necessary to board afely and assure that equipment is not lost or damaged. Once we got settled in our seats she asked, "Don't you ever stop working?" Unfortunately, the answer was, "No." With a disability you are always teaching a class about yourself -- or risking being treated as luggage; "the wheelchair."

Posted by rollingrains at 09:54 AM | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

To San Diego for Business Travel

Sixteen of us, the Zero Divide Fellows ("ZFellows") of the Community Technology Foundation of California converge on San Diego tomorrow morning for training. I am a longtime fan of the work of Access San Diego.

Guess I will use their accessibility guide and follow my own advice from the upcoming Suite 101.com article "Accidental Tourism: Life Beyond Business Travel" on combining business & leasure travel.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:14 AM | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

Post-NICAN: Homecoming

My father taught me the joys of anticipating travel and the skills of moving through the wilderness with low impact.

My mother initiated me into the mysteries of logistics and revealed to me the headwaters of resiliency in my own inner landscape.

It was Ignatius of Loyola and his company of friends who taught me how to return home.

St. Ignatius was founder of the Jesuits and author of the 30 Day Silent Retreat (The Spiritual Excercises) Like the Buddhist master Tsong Khappa he had a special insight into the spiritual power of imagination. Imagination is a primary tool of writers -- as well as travelers and mystics.

The Ignation method, known as the application of the senses, involves monitoring the feeling tone of key episodes as they are preserved in memory. It is the recollection and systematic re-experiencing of events.

The process is central to the practice of discernment of spirits. The purpose is to recognize the presence of God through the interior senses and distill the wisdom, God's trajectory within and through, the actions under examination. It is a sacred conversation.

One contemporary renaming of part of the Ignatian process is the "Examination of Consciousness" - a daily spiritual practice for the cultivation of the perception and integration of wisdom.

I am churning out drafts of the various articles that will result from the Tourism Australia/Tourism Tasmania sponsored research tour. This is the joy of returning home. This is when the real gifts are carefully unwrapped in order to be provacatively displayed and purposefully distributed.

As I do I am again grateful to my teachers -- those who formed me years ago and those who I found waiting for me in Australia.


And happy Feast of St. Francis of Asissi.

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September 29, 2004

NICAN 2004 - The OZ to US Bonus Day

Today is September 29, 2004.

So was yesterday.

Or, from my perspective, "today" was 48 hours long.

So you can forgive me if I don't know what day of the week it is back here across the International Dateline here in San Jose.

Waking up at the north end of the north island in New Zealand we snaked along the ridgetop roadways leading out of Tutukaka, back through Whangarei, and down to Auckland. I am certain that on my next visit to Tutukaka the idyllic little inlet will be unrecognizably developed. Already a set of condos are springing up across from the marina.

Boarding at Auckland was pleasant due to a very accommodating and competent Qantas ticketing agent. Well, pleasant aside from an Australian passenger who loudly announced that "maybe some people deserve to be disabled" when I did not capitulate to her attenmpts to strongarm ahead of me at the the fourth and final security checkpoint. Not surprisingly she fielded the same play at immigration in LAX where she Mau Mau'd a less resolute adversary -- as I imagine she has become accustomed to doing throughout her long and fretful life.

The NICAN Conference was a watershed experience. There is a great deal of quality thought, right intention, and promising infrastructure in place throughout Australia.

Already I have begun to work elements of the material presented there into the invitation that awaited me at home to speak at the Congresso Ibero-Americano de Acessibilidade no Turismo sponsored by the Instituto Pestalozzi da Canoas-Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil this November.

Posted by rollingrains at 12:37 PM | TrackBack

September 25, 2004

NICAN 2004 - Leaving Western Australia

The alarm clock this morning included White Tailed Black Cockatoos, Grass Parrots , Australian Magpies, invasive Gallahs, and, of course, the immigrant from eastern Australia the Kookaburra.

Being surrounded by Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and sharing a border with the site of the Wardan Aborignal People's Cutural Center it was not surprising to see fifteen kangaroos before we had driven to the end of the road.

Even driving back up the coast through Dunborough, Busselton, and Capel the birding continued with terns fluttering kestrel-like above the marshes while ducks swans and gulls made their way below.

Qantas was the species I hitched a ride back to Sydney with. The flight from Perth was uneventful and topped off with a spectacuar pink sunset. In Sydney there was an extended wait to negotiate the inconveniences caused by a recent Australian Health and Safety regulation that does not allow baggage handlers to carry wheelchairs up from the tarmac to the cabin for passengers.

Back the Sydney Airport Stamford a boistrous young crowd is having a Disco Party. The costumes are outrageous. What is lacking in verisimilitude is more than made up for by the raw energy of pure enjoyment evident throughout the hotel!

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September 24, 2004

NICAN 2004 - A Traditional Welcome

I find it a grounding experience to seek out the "keepers of place" whenever I research or visit somewhere that is unknown to me -- seasoned local characters, monks, or native peoples.

Today began with a trip to Wardan Cultural Center, an educational resource of the Wardani Aboriginal People.

Josh Whiteland led us on a short bush walk. Along the way we learned the traditional uses of several plants. One tree provides a bark that is useful to women and a wood that is the best for spears. Men tradtionally asked women for permission to harvest the wood.

Josh, whose tribal name, Koomal, means Bushy-tailed Possum in his own language, had us try several plants.

I do not remember the aboriginal name for one tree whose sap provides a natural chewing gum. And, fortunately for me, I did not learn the English language name for it until several hours after I chewed some and returned home. The tree is called Snottygobble (Persoonia longifolia). A condiment unlikely to ever compete with Juicy Fruit or Hubba Bubba if I know my marketing.

I learned that the long wooden tubes known as didjireedoos (or didjis for short) are not hollowed out by hand. Traditionally, one end of the pole as inserted into a termite mound. The termite colony did the work of cleaning out the center of the tube making possible the haunting, sometimes humorous, resonance of this musical instrument from northern Australia. The Wardani were originally percussionits and dancers.

John and his partner Clifford gave us an exciting diji and kangaroo-skin drum concert. I would have urchsed the CD but the have all been sold. A new run will be available shortly at:

for those interestd in the recent cultural history of Aboriginal Peoples of Australia I recommend the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence.

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September 23, 2004

NICAN 2004 - Cape Naturaliste, WA

We found a charming cabin off Caves Road in Yalingup, Western Australia.

Judy and Mark Fisher run the Wyadup Brook Cottages. Judy herself designed the cabin we stayed in. It is spacious with a kitchen (stove, microwave, and fridge), large living/dining area including a fireplace, two bedrooms, and a very large bathroom (with a washer!).

The doorknobs are spherical and the toilet doesn't allow for a side approach but the custom-made queen bed is at a perfect height and the Fishers are a friendly couple who are eager to accommodate guests with disabilities.

I don't think you could go wrong choosing Wyadup Brook Cottages for a "hidey hole" and secluded base camp for day trips through Western Australia's wine country.

The nearby expanse of coastline is networked with trails - although not wheelchair accessible. The Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leuwin route is understandably popular.

Down the road to the south is the majestic Karri Forest. Don't miss it!

(Thank you Jim & Debra Arkoosh for turning me on to another out-of-the-way wonder of the world!)

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September 20, 2004

NICAN 2004: Day 2 - Morning

This is the pilgrim's hour.

Last night was festive. This morning is expectant. What has been anticipated with long journeys is about to unfold. Perception is slightly sharper and moments pass in slow procession.

Buddhists cultivate mindfulness and the Benedictine tradition teaches the deep listening of "ob - audire" -- the Latin root behind the word "obedience." These take on a new relevance at moments laden with possibility such as this morning.

Even while the Australian Government rolls out its "Tourism White Paper Implementation Plan: Achieving Platinum Australia" the World Bank has begun registration for their conference "Disability and Inclusive Development: Sharing, Learning, and Building Alliances."

There is a change underway and this conference surfing that wave!

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September 19, 2004

Rendevous Hotel: A Venue to Avoid

It is a rare and fortunate occurrence to receive free consultation from my professional colleagues. They are gathered here in Perth to mature the tourism industry's competency regarding travelers with disabilities.

The NICAN conference is in fact the only event in the world devoted entirely to this work. The management of the Rendevous Hotel in Obeservation City (Perth), Western Australia is in a privileged market position - having had a year of unfettered access to the most accomplished thought-leaders in the field. With strategic leadership the available world-renowned expertise of the NICAN network ought to have catapulted this venue to celebrity status as an example of Universal Design.

So it is without regret that I give the establishment a low rating for design and service and recommend that visitors to Perth choose alternate lodging.

The location is inconvenient.

  • Rendevous is located a $45 taxi (or lift van) ride from the airport, with no shuttle service, and in a section of town (Scarborough) with inadequate accessible public transit.
  • The main entrance is dangerous.

  • The front entry ramp far exceeds 1/10 even though space exists for an adequate run. I lock both brakes at the top of the ramp and still the slope pulls me all the way to the bottom
  • The public accessible restroom is undersized.

  • The unisex accessible bathroom is six feet by six feet. To turn a circle in a wheelchair requires five feet square. This tiny closet includes three garbage cans taking up floor space and a diaper chaging station opposite the sink taking up wall space.
  • The "Formal Attire Required" Lounge is designed to exclude people in wheelchairs.

  • A large sign on an easel at the foot of the three steps into the premier lounge informs guests with mobility impairments that they must ask the Concierge for permission to enter should they wish to, for example, entertain their temporarily able bodied clients in the lounge.
  • The accessible room has several barriers ranging from the inconvenient to the life-threatening.

  • The entry hall is too narrow for a comfortable turn int the bathroom

  • The balcony in each accessible room has a three inch interior lip and a six inch drop rom the threshold to the balcony on the outside

  • If one should attempt to enjoy the balcony in their wheelchair they would find that the pato furniture is immovable -- chained to the floor.

  • The telephone dial does not light, the phone list of in-house services is printed on a high reflectivity metal in a small, red font, and the bedside lamps require strong fingers to manipulate.

  • The clothes bars in the single closet do not allow dresses or long coats to be hung properly.

  • The unusually low toilets without aftermarket raised seats (or even a full roll of toilet paper in my room) make transfers an uncomfotable and dangerous affair.

  • Sink and roll-in shower fawcet handles are not paddle but rather some permutation of round. I am unable to use them.
  • It is not my practice to emphasize the negative at a venue. I certainly appreciate the extra efforts of Concierge staffers Adrian and Richard (who offered to brnig me a power transformer from his own home when one could not be found on site).

    I find it unconscionable on the part of management to place line staff in the position of being buffetted by these prevetable complaints. As hundreds of us gather we will report the same problems I have outlined above. Staff will be faced with the unpleasant task of making excuses for incompetence at the level of strategic management.

    In the case of the Rendevous Hotel, Perth I have no qualms at being labeled a "knocker."

    And when I return next year with my staff and clients you can be certain that we will happily reside with a competitor.

    Hotel Rendevous Perth - Recipient of the Masochist's Teapot Award: -
    View image

    Stay and you'll certainly pay.

    Posted by rollingrains at 08:45 PM | TrackBack

    NICAN 2004: Day 1 - Evening

    We're off!

    The buzz began with the cocktail party launching the program last night. (Australia is worth visiting just for the wine!)

    My host, Amanda Hunt, called us to order and launched an event that has been months in the making. Mary Guy, president of NICAN welcomed us briefly then sent us off to mingle, taste Aussie wine, and network.

    And network we did!

    Justin Lunn, an unstoppable outdoorsman and charming rapscallian of mythic proportions regaled me with stories. His work developing tourism using all terrain vehicles is exciting.

    Mark Bagshaw of IBM will be one of the keynoters and had loads of stories to tell about traveling in his wheelchair. Poor guy. He can't stay for the whole conference. has to run off to Rome and all.

    Ron Cittall pulled out his "Travel Writer and Consultant" card when I began to talk about the opportunities for writers at Suite 101.com. I'd love to see him wrie about his travels with his wife Jenny who has MS.

    Tanya Packer of Curtin University of Technology sidled up to touch base with the other academic in the crowd - me. I can see that we have hours more conversation ahead.

    There were more projects and plans and yarn spinners per square foot in that party than anywhere I've been in a long time.

    Congratulations to the event organizers for creating such a valuable gathering!

    Posted by rollingrains at 03:29 PM | TrackBack

    NICAN 2004: Day 1 - Morning

    Outside my view window the Indian Ocean sparkles in turquoise-to-saphire blues. No wonder this city has the highest per capita boat ownership rate in the world.

    I expected palm trees along the beach here-- but by now I've learned to expect the unexpected in foliage here. Instead there is the largest collection of Norfolk Pines I have ever seen gracefully bobbing in the nearly continuous breezes.

    I am told that the air blows off the heated desert and out to sea only to reverse itself and blow back inland. It's a sailboard paradise as I remember learning in the extreme sports flick "Upsidedown Downunder."

    Soon I will be in information overload shock but as of this morning the excitement is envigorating. (It's also distracting me from adding the finishing touches to my keynote!)

    Posted by rollingrains at 05:24 AM | TrackBack

    September 18, 2004

    "Hooroo" Tassie: to Perth via Melbourne

    Time to leave Tassie for Western Australia. "Hooroo" ("Goodbye") until next time.

    Hopping from Launcester to Melbourne and on to Perth one has time to enjoy the vistas and contemplate beauty in its various forms.

    Natural beauty and beauty-through-design makes me think of Don Norman's essay, "Emotion and Design: Attractive Things Work Better."

    Wash and polish your car: doesn't it drive better?

    It also makes me remember the "Coffeepot for masochists" by
    French artist Jacques Carelman. I plan to fit that into the Perth presentation.

    Further Reading:

    The Design of Everyday Things

    See the coffee pot on the cover!

    Posted by rollingrains at 05:24 AM | TrackBack

    September 17, 2004

    Travelogue NICAN: A Family Tie to Tasmania?


    Peter Dombrovskis was a renowned photographer of Tasmania.

    Photos: http://www.view.com.au/dombrovskis/2-0.htm

    More Photos: http://www.view.com.au/dombrovskis/3-0.htm

    Peter shares a last name with my paternal grandfather, Alexander Dombrowski. Arguably this is the "Smith" of Polish surnames and talent in photography is not absent in our branch of the Dombrowski clan.

    Dr. Dale Dombrowski, of Las vegas, Nevada - my cousin - is an accomplished outdoor photographer and journalist in his own right. I'd like to see his treatments of the Salamanca Market in Hobart, the Henry Jones Art Hotel, or the Western Tasmania coastline.

    Posted by rollingrains at 08:44 AM | TrackBack

    Travelogue NICAN 2004: South to Hobart in Tasmania

    Tonight the Henry Jones Art Hotel along the harbor in Hobart at the mouth of the Derwent River sitting at the foot of Mt Wellington.

    Frommer's, aside from the typos in their online entry in the Introduction section, does offer some helpful background and tips under Attractions. I'm disappointed not to be in town for the open-air market is held at Salamanca Place each Saturday.

    As luck would have it I am in the hometown of the president of NICAN, Mary Guy, while she is in Perth setting up the conference.

    I'm looking forward to m eeting this impresive woman with a reputatioin as big as a continent.

    For more in formation on Hobart's stylish new hotel:

    The Henry Jones Art Hotel
    25 Hunter Street Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7000
    Ph: 1300 665 581 Int Ph: +61 3 62 316 391
    E: info@thehenryjones.com

    Posted by rollingrains at 05:20 AM | TrackBack

    September 15, 2004

    Travelogue NICAN 2004: Tasmania Via the Devil's Playground Circuit

    A quick glance at Kerry & Jane Winberg's web site for The Devil's Playground tips you off that they have big plans!


    Not only have they created a concept that is unique -- a circuit of fully accessible lodgings that entirely encompass a desireable tourisim region -- they are developing side tours accessible to those of varying abilities.

    Consider the circuit:

  • Launceston -- Headquarters (the main facility)

  • Nabawla -- Eco-Park

  • Branxholm -- Stoke Cottage

  • Westerway -- Riverside

  • Oatland -- The Millworker's Cottage

  • Queenstown - The Tween House

  • Tullah -- Tourist Resort

  • Boat Harbour -- The Retreat
  • What they need is a "signature event" -- something that makes full use of their facilities, knowledge of Tasmania, and transportation assets.

    How about an outdoor sports event at their Tullah site in November 2005?

    There is a lake for kayaking, sailing, canoeing, swimming and a fishing derby. There is a gym for indoor sports, trails for horseback riding and proximity to the trails on Cradle Mountain for trekking.

    Where do I sign up?

    Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

    Posted by rollingrains at 04:49 PM | TrackBack

    September 14, 2004

    Exploring Tasmania by Wheelchair

    People choose their travel destinations for a complicated set of reasons -- some pragmatic and some highly personal.

    The existence of The Devil's Playground and Tourism Tasmania's the sponsorship of me as a participant in their Visiting Journalist Programme were two of my pragmatic reasons.

    The kind assistance of some competent Tasmanians moved them from the "pragmatic" to the "personal" category.

    As I got to know travel educator, Sally Wise, and her two students, Olivia Dewhurst and Kate Peters, I learned more and more about the beauty and ammenities available in Tasmania for travelers with disabilities. They have done their homework!

    Martin Buggy, publicist for The Devil's Playground, seems to have sensed my weakness from the beginning. He opened up so any more opportunities in Tassie than I could possibly follow through on during this short visit. He has succeeded in selling me on a return visit -- maybe more than one!

    Kerry, Jane, and Cherie at The Devil's Playground have also been most accommodating and gone out of their way with hospitality.

    But, as someone raised in the Pacific Northwest, I know a special eco-system when I come across one. And in Tasmania there exist certain microclimates where native lily species from Washington and Oregon thrive. I've traveled halfway around the world to find a little bit of home. A personal reason for the trip.

    It's a bit deceptive seeing nativized daffodils along the road, tulip farms, bare apple and pear trees -- and the Spotting black Swans, Native Hens, or Playpus We spent about an hour watching four near Beauty Point on the Tamar River yesterday.

    Tomorrow we'll move into Tasmanian Devil country as we travel up to Cradle Mountain. As insruance that we'll actually see some of these noctural critters we will be stopping in on a captive collection along the way.

    Tonight we'll stay in Tullah. This is a largely depopulated company town formed to serve a hydroelectric project in rainy (rainforested) Western Tasmania.

    Posted by rollingrains at 12:31 AM | TrackBack

    September 13, 2004

    Travelogue: NICAN 2004

    September 13 caught up with me (or I with it?) somewhere mid-Pacific while Fiji slept below.

    The Qantas trans-Pacific flight sailed on though the darkness uneventfully.

    But at LAX beforehand? Well, that was a little touch and go.

    I travel with an aircraft aluminum, semi-rigid, Invacare Spyder wheelchair. The breakdown ritual as I transfer from it to one of the narrow aisle chairs to get into the cabin of an airliner is always amusing.

    Keep in mind that, when fully broken down, I am left with an additional eight items of luggage -- foot pedals, solid back, seat cushion, etc. It would be ten items if this was a wheelchair with armrests.

    All these are stowed in the cabin while the crew brings the wheelchair frame down into the belly of the aircraft. Riding with the rest of the luggage, the frame gets unoaded and brought to me at the cabin door anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes after the very last passenger has disembarked.

    I used to be easygoing about the process. I even allowed the removable parts to be stored below in luggage. That was until I found how easy it was for those parts to go to, say Cleveland, while I was at my destination - O'Hare.

    So, I was in no mood to have my appendages arrive in Malaysia while my body sat waiting for them in Sydney. And the "expert" the airport sent to assist me in the boarding process was all thumbs and attitude -- although admirably sure of himself for someone so incompetent.

    I must have made an impression on the Qantas flight concierge - a personable, well-built, roustabout-looking fellow -- the kind I've come to dread in these situations. I feared a repeat of the LAX boarding spectacle.

    As we disembarked in Sydney he commented with some respect on having seen the process back in LAX and joined in the reassembly with a healthy reserve. Reassembly went smooth as silk and we all had some good laughs in the process!

    I didn't tell him and the rest of the crew until the whole process was successfully completed and we were making our way down the jetway together that I am here sponsored by Tourism Australia.

    All-in-all, my first international flight with Qantas has been positive. Thanks crew of of Qantas Flight 12!

    Now, on to a new experience -- arriving in a major city without hotel reservations and booking an accessibe room on the spot (or finding a homeless shelter?)

    Posted by rollingrains at 05:10 AM | TrackBack

    September 12, 2004

    Post From a Day That Doesn't Exist

    My aversion to plagarism has been defeated by my love of a good conundrum.

    I am posting this entry on a day that will never exist for me (although I did have to log it against my vacation time at work!)

    Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean September 11 became September 13.

    But I won't even try to explain it since the definitive explanation was already written by Bill Bryson in the book "In a Sunburned County."

    Each time you fly from North America to Australia, and without anyone asking how you feel about it, a day is taken away from you when you cross the international date line. I left Los Angeles on January 3 and arrived in Sydney fourteen hours later on January 5. For me there was no January 4. None at all. Where it went exactly I couldnt tell you. All I know is that for one twenty-four-hour period in the history of earth, it appears I had no being.

    I find it a little uncanny, to say the least. I mean to say, if you were browsing through your ticket folder and you saw a notice that said, Passengers are advised that on some crossings twenty-four-hour loss of existence may occur (which is, of course, how they would phrase it, as if it happened from time to time), you would probably get up and make inquiries, grab a sleeve, and say, Excuse me. There is, it must be said, a certain metaphysical comfort in knowing that you can cease to have material form and it doesnt hurt at all, and, to be fair, they do give you back the day on the return journey when you cross the date line in the opposite direction and thereby manage somehow to arrive in Los Angeles before you left Sydney, which in its way, of course, is an even neater trick.

    From In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson

    I seem to be in good company in my confusion. Read Time Traveling at Stop Design.

    See you in Sydney, mate!

    Posted by rollingrains at 12:05 AM | TrackBack

    September 11, 2004

    Travelogue: NICAN 2004

    September 11 seems like an auspicious day to fly - lightning in the same place twice and all that. Although, it would be nice to celebrate Ethiopian New Year somewhere a bit more spacious than an airplane! (I hope the injira that Qantas serves on he flight tonight won't taste like it's been on Walkabout.)

    Preparations have been smooth. Qantas has called twice -- on their own intitiative -- to be certain their Special Services office has aisle chairs, seating assignments, and connection assistance arranged. (Thank you, Heather!)

    The travel time from San Jose to Sydney is 14 hours. (If you have access to Bill Bryson's book "In a Sunburned Country," you might want to read his hilarious musings on crossing the international date line!)

    I took a look at Rasha's petition again before I left to see if we had won the Electoral College -- or at least simple majority in this closely watched contest for aerial equality.

    Apparently not. Those last 12 hours of the flight are going to pass pretty slowly waiting for the accessible bathroom on the ground! (Hey, go sign it and save me from kidney failure on the flight back to the States!)

    The theme of NICAN is "Valuing the Traveler with a Disability."

    The very fact that an organization like NICAN exists only in Australia and is holding its fifth conference on disability and travel ought to alert the rest of the English-speaking world that they are operating from a seriously deficient paradigm.

    What might leverage a shift in paradigm? The familiar themes of the Rolling Rains Report:

  • Universal Design

  • Aging Boomers as Consumers

  • Post-ADA Definitions of Disability

  • Destination Development That is Sustainably Inclusive
  • Posted by rollingrains at 11:52 PM | TrackBack

    May 31, 2004

    Alaska Inside Passage Cruise

    I signed up for the course as soon as I read the homework:

  • Take two cruises: One 2-6 days and one 7+ days
  • That's one of the requirements for the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Accredited Cruise Counsellor certification.

    So, for the next two weeks I will lead a tour through Alaska incuding a cruise of the Inside Passage on Radisson Cruise Line's Mariner of the Seven Seas.

    Starting with a Northwest Airlines flight to Anchorage I'll make a firsthand test of Microtel Hotel's touted service to people with disabilities.

    Posted by rollingrains at 02:19 AM | TrackBack

    April 04, 2004

    HAL Pleads "No Lo Contendere" With its New Ship

    I spent today touring Holland America Line's 1 year-old luxury liner, Oosterdam, in port in San Francisco. Corporate staff gave a presentation on their $225 million "Signature of Excellence" fleet makeover that will focus on five areas identified by passengers as priority features: Dining, Accommodation, Service, Activities, and Destinations.

    Apparently, people with disabilities are not among those the company identified as "passengers" when they did their research on what would constitute excellence.

    Being in a wheelchair I was frequently told how many disabled passengers cruise with them. That is, their passenger lists demonstrate the continuous demand and their bottom line makes the economic argument in passenger fares . Yet no one from VPs presenting to the ship's crew seemed to have a grasp of UD - and the concept of visitability was completely foreign to them.

    For example, the two high-end suite classes were barrier-rich and unliveable from a wheelchair while the few accessible lower-end suites and cabins incorporated crude retrofits.

    Pools, jacuzzis, spas, gyms exhibiting the same design flaws. As a result they have designed out the possibility of attracting high-end wheelchair-using passengers which self-prepetuates their image of the demographic as non-"Premiere Customers."

    Troubling in new vessel.

    Posted by rollingrains at 03:02 PM

    March 16, 2004

    A Modular Approach to Universal Design

    This week I found an example of universal design close to home. It was a bitterweet experience.

    On a walk around Almaden Lake my wife and I noticed an attractive apartment complex. Three stories tall with ample, south-facing balconies looking over the lake, we decided to stop in and take a tour.

    The first surprise was that the back parking lot was the terminus of a light rail spur and a hub for the city bus system. Off the lot, connecting the walking trails along both sides of the creek, a new pedestrian bridge is under construction. Very nice urban planning!

    We were surprised to discover that the site's elevators only went down from the first floor into the underground parking. That is, the choice balconies overlooking the lake are not available to wheelchair users -- even to visit. Not sure how building codes could allow this in a new building.

    But, for those with no aspirations to "upward mobility," the agent offered a well-thought-out package of modularity. This made any first floor apartment potentially wheelchair-friendly. The complex offered to replace plush carpet with a low-friction industrial grade alternate, swap out appliances such as a stove with controls placed high in the back, and remove typical obstacles to foot pedals such as low-level cabinet doors.

    Another case where someone almost got the universal design message. Almost, but not enough. The building still impudently asks the disabled resident or visitor, "Can you walk?"

    Posted by rollingrains at 06:14 AM | TrackBack

    February 20, 2004

    Sustainable Tourism - Notes from a Novel

    The last time I was in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I found myself with some time on my hands.

    Wandering through one of the mega-bookstores in the mall I noticed a novel nestled somewhere in the middle of a shelf: "Taureg" by Alberto Vasquez-Figeroa. Unfamiliar with the author (although he's written 40 books!), or the title, I gave it a quick look and passed it by.

    A few minutes later my friend Rosngela came up from another end of the store and asked, "Have you ever heard of the book Tuareg? I'm looking for it." I think her estimation of my skills as a knowledge worker rose a few percentage points as I took her straight to it.

    The book is a jewel!

    I've seen marketing and reviews give it the superficial "never-mess-with-the-wild-men-of-the-desert" treatment. I saw something different.

    The book is about hospitality - and honor. It is about the tortuous path to redemption or its alternative.

    I found it to be a richly layered study of colonialism, post-colonialism, and recolonization. The story line moves ahead relentlessly through a series of cultural miscommunications and treachery that resolve in escalating tragedy. Set in North Africa, the descriptions of oasis-dominating military encampments uncomfortably brought to mind scenes of the luxury resorts I've encountered in other parts of the world.

    Here is a book, taken as parable, that ought to be read by traveler and travel professional alike. After finishing it I am left with the questions - "What are the obligations of hospitality?", "What is sustainable tourism?", "What is 'hidden from me in plain sight' as I travel?"

    Posted by rollingrains at 10:01 PM | TrackBack

    February 14, 2004

    Huston Smith & Phil Cousineau on

    Huston Smith and Phil Cousineau were engaging at the East/West Bookstore in Mountain View, CA last night.

    Our personal reflections continued over food with friends.

    There was consensus that the facile toss-off line, still common on US campuses, "I don't believe in religion. I believe in spirituality", argues a closed question. It also, as Huston wittily remarked, is usually delivered by those who have rarely, if ever darkened the door of a church. Rather than engaging a post-modern present with the future, this pseudo-argument leapfrogs back to pre-modern models of religion -- and summarily dismisses them.

    It was also our consenus that the sauce on the eggplant anti-pasto at the wheelchair-accessible Cuccina Don Giovanni was transcendant!

    Posted by rollingrains at 09:35 PM

    February 07, 2004

    A Trail of Tears Downunder

    Travel at this site almost always refers to business or leisure travel. Many of the posts deal with the business of travel itself-- and arguments for enlarging its vision to encompass persons of various ages and capacities.

    But for many, travel operates within an entirely different economy -- geographic dislocation, forced migration, wars & skirmishes.

    It is with the latter economy in mind that I found the movie "The Rabbit-Proof Fence" so moving. I recommend the film for an artistically rendered and compelling dramatization of a true account from Australia's "Lost Generations."

    From an especially good background feature at IO Film:

    Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the story of "half-caste" children who were brought up in camps and homes, in an attempt to "advance" them into white society - as domestic servants and farm labourers. What made a misguided policy into a heart-breaking one was the element of compulsion. Thousands were forcibly removed from aboriginal mothers between 1900 and 1971.

    The "stolen generations" had become the subject of fierce debate in Australia, but the expat director knew nothing of the controversy. The politics interested him, but what really fired his imagination was the story of three children who run away from a camp and attempt to walk home over 1,000 miles of inhospitable country - The Great Escape, with three cute little girls up against everything the state and nature can throw at them.

    Rabbit-Proof Fence is the true story of Molly Craig, who, in 1931, at 14, was taken from her mother in Jigalong, a depot on one of the fences that were being constructed across the continent in an attempt to keep marauding rabbits from destroying the western farmlands. Along with her half-sister Daisy, 8, and cousin Gracie Fields, she was taken to the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia.

    And a review also from IO Film by "The Wolf".

    "Leaping The Fence Of Australia's Past" by Brian Pendreigh

    Posted by rollingrains at 02:49 PM | TrackBack