April 2014 Archives

When choosing routes, building trails, or developing new outdoor experiences for travelers don't overlook four-wheel mountain biking and handcycling.

"Mountain biking* is basically a way to hike down the mountain. You can fly down the mountain or you can go slower." ~ Geoff Krill

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* Also known as Fourcross.

Disabled Sports USA writes about handcycling:

Handcycling was developed in the 1980s by people working to create alternate types of human-powered vehicles. So it was almost by accident that a new world of cycling was opened to people with disabilities.

"It's ideal for people who have no or limited use of their legs, people who have poor balance, or anyone that just wants to try a different sport," said Heather Plucinski of Challenge Alaska. "It opens up a lot of trails and a lot of countryside, a lot of fresh air, and a lot of places you can travel. It's a great piece of adaptive equipment that allows people to get outside."

"The disabled community picked up on it right away," said Ian Lawless, Colorado regional director and cycling director for Adaptive Adventures. Even people with one working arm can handcycle with some modifications made to the equipment, said Lawless. "Just about anyone can do it. It's an accessible sport. It's not just for racing; it's also for recreational riding. It's a barrier breaker that allows a disabled rider to participate in cycling with friends and families who may be riding conventional bicycles."

Source: http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/handcycling/

You will find good introductory videos to the sport of Fourcross at Stacey Kohut's YouTube Channel with action-oriented clips like this one also:



For more see:

An Introduction to Fourcross

Action clips

Teacher Jeeja Ghosh is one of many disabled passengers in the region who experience discrimination in the air. Unfortunately for the air carrier that discriminated against her she is also a well-known and well-like personality internationally. 


 If nothing else, good service against those who seem inconsequential prevents damage like this to the airline, airport and destination.


The United Nation estimates the 1 billion people with disabilities populate the world.

The tourism industry estimates that about 1/10 of those traveling at any one moment are people with disabilities and the rapid aging of the world population will raise that percentage significantly.

Studies show that travelers with disability travel on average with 1.8 people and stay an average of 1.5 days longer than a non-disabled traveler. In addition they make travel decisions more on word-of-mouth than any other group. In other words, losing one trip by a traveler with a disability means losing 2 that were invisible and one hotel night sale as well as the word-of-mouth endorsement of a highly loyal market segment.

Here follows two videos on an incident of airline discrimination against Disability Consultant Rajeev Rajan, demeaningly labeled a "patient" even though he was traveling as a professional to Delhi to testify on disability rights.
 

Only one day after the incident those he was going to work for in Delhi threatened a lawsuit.
 



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Although outdoor accessibility was something we as disability activists back-burnered as a political priority in the civil rights push of the 1970's - much to the disappointment of those of us whose lives revolved around the outdoors in the pacific Northwest of  the USA - much progress has been made. One institution that has distinguished itself as a provider of technical assistance in outdoor access is the National Center on Accessibility.

It began more than 20 years ago as a cooperative effort between the US Parks Service and Indiana University. The center looks not only at facility access but educates on the concept of program access as well.

Here are training courses that they have available online:

Practitioners often mistake the "program access" standard for only activities requiring advance registration, structured schedules and staffed by personnel or volunteers. However, "program access" really extends to the entire realm of opportunities, experiences and benefits. How does the program access standard in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act apply to parks, recreation and places of tourism? In addition what does the provision for readily accessible and usable goods and services mean for places of public accommodation (Title III)? This 90-minute webinar brings together two of the foremost national experts on program access, John Wodatch, former Disability Section Chief at the Department of Justice, and Ray Bloomer, Accessibility Specialist with the National Park Service, and Director of Education at the National Center on Accessibility. From national parks to river boat cruises, museums to fitness centers, wildlife refuges to performing arts theaters what should every service provider in recreation and tourism know about program access for inclusion of people with disabilities? Join John and Ray for a candid discussion of the program access standard.

FREE!  90 minute webinar archive.  Original broadcast May 29, 2013.   Produced by the National Center on Accessibility and the Great Lakes ADA Center. This session is part of the Arts and Recreation Webinar Series in collaboration with the ADA National NetworkNational Center on AccessibilityThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Smithsonian Institution.

Both Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require state, local and federal entities to develop Transition Plans for the removal of architectural and communication barriers to participation by people with disabilities. But what does a Transition Plan look like? More importantly, what should be the process for developing and administering a successful Transition Plan? John Wodatch, former Disability Section Chief at the Department of Justice, provides an overview of transition plan requirements.  Joining John are accessibility coordinators representing two of the largest federal and state park systems in the nation, Cheri Murdock, Yosemite National Park, and Carole Fraser, New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Learn how each Transition Plan is as unique as the entity developing it, what they used as guiding principles for prioritizing barrier removal, and other secrets to successful implementation.

FREE!  90 minute webinar archive.  Original broadcast July 10, 2013.   Produced by the National Center on Accessibility and the Great Lakes ADA Center. This session is part of the Arts and Recreation Webinar Series in collaboration with the ADA National NetworkNational Center on AccessibilityThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Smithsonian Institution.

Universal design refers to the creation of structures and programs that can be used by all people. This online web module provides an introduction to the concept of Universal Design and its seven principles. In addition, the course presents the history, principles, and progress of Universal Design as it applies to the designer, programmer, and the consumer.

The purpose of this online learning module is to discuss Program Access as a beneficial and necessary concept in providing a meaningful experience to people with disabilities seeking to participate in parks and recreation. Within this comprehensive course, the learner will be introduced to the concepts and principles of Program Access, multiple examples of integrated services, and methods of Program Access implementation.

Among the many technical resources available on this site notice the unique collection of products here: 

What can be learned from the experience of mountain bikers? After all they are wheels-on-trails too. Equally important, in what ways is a mountain bike design unsuitable for a wheelchair user? 


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The answers aren't in this post. This only begins to pose the question with an introduction on the sustainable - but too narrow for a wheelchair - single track trail-building practice of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and the construction of  skillbuilding trail park in Colorado.

The main takeaway from IMBA trailbuilding experience is their attention to environmental sustainability.

   

 
For more on the IMBA see their web site: https://www.imba.com/

For the IMBA guide to building single track bike trails see:  https://www.imba.com/catalog/book-trail-solutions 

Is there a place for the wheelchair, handcycle, or quadbike user in an environment like this in Community Bike Park in Valmont Bike Park in Colorado?
 

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. I wanted to find our a little more about disability culture in Nepal. This post features the work of an Indian pioneer in wheelchair-accessible van transport - Prasad Phanasgoakar.

Prasad Phanasgaonkar
, founder of Samartha Travels, is introduced by Craig Grimes at our capacity-building session in Mumbai:
 



A short clip of Samartha's modified Tata Winger with a platform lift:
 

Entering a Tavera with a lift that is steep and should be wider:
 

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Here is a 2010 interview by Peter Camarda with Bonnie Lewkowicz, founder of Access Northern California (www.accessnca.org) about her guides to wheelchair access at coastal California trails and parks.

You may download Bonnie's book here as PDF:


 Part 1:

   

 Part 2:

   

 Part 3:
 

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at assiting a wheelchair user enter a platform lift-equipped van safely.

This two-video series is the Braun Commercial Wheelchair Lift Operator's Video Set. For more information on Braun commercial wheelchair lifts, see their website: www.braunlift.com 

 Part 1:
 

Part 2:
 

Many factors go into the travel experience of someone with a disability. Coloring the very individual concerns of each traveler are their interactions with interlocking systems such as transportation to and parking at airports, ticketing and check-in, monitoring flight information, navigating the airport, airport security, comfort during plane changes and layovers, and comfort while in the air. This post looks at how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the USA has attempted to balance human rights and security for travelers with disabilities and includes a sample training video featuring travelers with disabilities speaking for themselves.


More than 2,600 [TSA] Passenger Support Specialists at airports across the country assist passengers who require additional assistance with security checkpoint screening.

Passenger Support Specialists receive specialized disability training provided by TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement.  Training for Passenger Support Specialists include how to assist with individuals with special needs, how to communicate with passengers by listening and explaining, and disability etiquette and disability civil rights.

Travelers requiring special accommodations or concerned about checkpoint screening may ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist who will provide on-the-spot assistance. Passengers with special circumstances may include travelers with disabilities or medical conditionsWounded Warriors, passengers who wear specific religious clothing or head coverings and passengers struggling with understanding checkpoint procedures.

Travelers may also request a Passenger Support specialist ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline at 1-855-787-2227.


From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at purchasing a vehicle modified for ease of use by someone who uses wheelchair.


This consumer-focused video series by BraunAbility TV on selecting a wheelchair-accessible van is an excellent starting point for a technical discussion whether you are an individual purchasing one vehicle or a business looking for a fleet of reliable vehicles.

 
We've put together a very informative video series to help you understand the things that can affect a wheelchair van's reliability, durability, safety, and performance. Our goal is to make sure that you get a wheelchair accessible vehicle that will satisfy your needs for years to come. There are 9 parts in this video series, including the introduction. Each video takes an in-depth look at the engineering, design, and manufacturing of the different vehicle systems within a minivan that's been converted for handicap use. The videos cover braking systems, exhaust systems, fuel systems, sliding door systems, suspension systems, electrical systems, and vehicle underbody. And then we wrap everything up with a video, called 'Making the Right Choice'.

Here is a list of links to the complete series. Note that you have already seen the first video above:

 
Wheelchair Vans -- Learn Before You Buy! http://youtu.be/WwJawLVMlXE 
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Sliding Doors http://youtu.be/ii36fPzJvO0
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Underbody http://youtu.be/yO1_HShVjIg 
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Suspension Systems http://youtu.be/v52jO5Nf0LU
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Brake Systems http://youtu.be/7N0Fjxzsj8M
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Fuel Systems http://youtu.be/YRcpW0Rz12s
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Exhaust Systems http://youtu.be/fGWAv0g3xUM
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Wiring http://youtu.be/kEkG_zNSs7w 
Wheelchair Van Straight Talk - Making the Right Choice http://youtu.be/45SXhoBeFjU

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at regional innovators.

The most complete information available online regarding converting passenger vans for use by or for those who use wheelchairs tends to focus on the American market. This discussion focuses on two of India's pioneers in the accessible personal ground transportation market:



Prasad uses the uses the Toyota Qualis.

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You can see his vehicles here http://www.samarthatravels.com/photos_cars.htm

Arvind uses the Tata Motors Winger.

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You can see his vehicles here:
http://www.access4all.co.in/vehicle.htm

The article "Nepal Technical Assistance: Vehicle Ramps and Lifts - Part 3" will include videos of vehicle modification using examples from the USA.

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at physical accessibility of buildings.


Around the world full social participation by people with disabilities is simply the norm. 

Note this product from Allgood.com.uk:
 

For decades the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been the standardizing force behind building codes across the USA that eliminate architectural barriers for people with disabilities. In February 2014 Lexology.com published an exhaustive review of the legal obligations in "Addressing ADA issues in hotel management agreements"

Of course the ADA is only applicable in the USA, but understanding it brings you a long way to understanding the mindset of your guests from a country that has spent more than a generation expecting inclusion in public accommodation.

Here is from the Lexology article:

Key Revisions to Architectural Requirements

In conducting an audit or inspection of a property, some of the key architectural requirements under the ADA for newly designed and constructed places of public accommodations to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, involve the following:

    1. Accessible Entrances Understanding how guests arrive at and move through hotels and restaurants is the best way to identify any existing barriers and set priorities for their removal. The 2010 standards provide the following priorities for barrier removal:
    • Providing access from public sidewalks, parking areas and public transportation;
    • Providing access to services (e.g., restaurants and spas);
    • Providing access to public restrooms; and
    • Removing barriers to other amenities offered to guests (e.g., drinking fountains, elevators and ATMs).

Consequently, efforts should be made by owners and operators to ensure that:

    1. there is an obvious accessible path from the street sidewalk to the entry;
    2. a portion of the check-in counter in the main lobby of the hotel is appropriate for use by an individual who uses a wheelchair;
    3. restaurants and bars have accessible pathways and accessible seating;
    4. conference/meeting room entrances are wide enough for wheelchair passage; and
    5.  the main lobby has at least one fully accessible restroom.
In particular, if the main entrance cannot be made accessible, alternate accessible entrances can be used. If a restaurant or hotel has several entrances and only one is accessible, a sign should be posted at the inaccessible entrances directing individuals to the accessible entrance. This entrance must be open whenever other public entrances are open. The 2010 standards require that 60 percent of all public entrances be accessible.


I encourage you to become familiar with the entire article:

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at assisting a blind traveler.


Those of us with disabilities might get a little ruffled at the question but it still gets asked, "Why do people with disabilities travel?"

The truth is, knowing the answer to that question is crucial as the world's population ages and so proportionally more people - and thus travelers - will have some sort of disability.

Yet there is no one answer. That is because disability cuts across every distinction - age, gender, wealth, race, language.

Every birdwatcher knows the importance of recognizing a species' song - none more than a blind birdwatcher. And pretty much every mountain climber knows that Erik Weihenmeyer didn't consider being blind a reason for him not to summit mount Everest. People with disabilities are going to turn up in every activity that appeals to tourists. How can you be prepared to make it a good experience for them?

The first answer always and everywhere is "Ask them." What we suggest here will be helpful for some and not so helpful for others. Here is a well-done video from RNIB of Scotland.



Here is a more personal reflection by a man named Giles in the UK:
 

Finally, this detailed instructional video on white cane use can offer sighted tour and trek guides further insight into the experience of a blind traveler:

 

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at traveling in a vehicle while remaining in a wheelchair.

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For a quick visual review of various ramp and platform lift designs as well as seatbelts and wheelchair tie-downs look through the items collected at this Pinterest Board:


Before deciding on what design solution will work for your vehicle and situation it is helpful to have a sort of mental model breaking down the task you are trying to accomplish.

Preliminary Step: Inform the wheelchair user of exactly what you intend to do and obtain their feedback and permission.

Phase 1: Bring the passenger and wheelchair into the vehicle
Phase 2: Secure the wheelchair to the vehicle
Phase 3: Secure the Passenger within the wheelchair
Phase 4: Bring the passenger and wheelchair out of the vehicle

To do the first and last phase - entry and exit - there are four types of solution:

      1. Construct a loading platform that is level with the vehicle floor.
      2. Build a slope into the floor of the vehicle (sometimes combined with a suspension system that further lowers ("kneels) the vehicle.
      3. Carry a ramp that can be manually attached for loading and unloading.
      4. Install a mechanized ramp or platform lift into the vehicle.
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The first solution is valuable for fixed route buses but unfeasible for more agile vehicles.

The second solution often means loss of more usable floorspace than a transportation operator would like.

The third solution is popular as a cost-effective response as long as prior planning resolves how and where to secure and transport the ramp.

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The fourth solution is the subject of the following article.

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This article looks at transferring to a vehicle from a wheelchair.

Many wheelchair users are able to transfer independently or with minimal assistance from their wheelchair to a car seat. Often this is preferable to sitting in a wheelchair even in an accessible van. Unlike a car seat with springs a wheelchair does not absorb shock from the road. Add to that the fact that a van or bus has stiff suspension and the wheelchair is usually secured right over the rear wheels and you have the recipe for an uncomfortable ride unless you transfer!

This instructional video produced by a Canadian hospital network emphasizes some of the basics such as assuring that the car and wheelchair are properly positioned and that the wheelchair wheels are locked. Notice the attention given to providing handholds for this wheelchair user who is able to stand.


This video, complete with endearing mistakes, emphasizes the safety of the one who assists in a transfer.

 

This video shows and independent transfer by a paraplegic into a sedan using a sliding board. Sliding boards come in various designs and materials. A simple sliding board is easy to manufacture.


Here are some examples of sliding boards:

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The Beasy Sliding board: