The Inclusive Play Symposium: Closing Presentation


Wrapping up an event is an honor and a challenge. My topic, "Playing Around the World: Inclusive Tourism" allowed for a review of all the topics covered during the symposium and then a look at how these might be manifesting around the globe.Play for Life.JPG

I began with the thesis that play is a reaching out for joy and leisure travel is a search for new playspaces and playmates.

I was asked to give some background on how I began in Inclusive Tourism:

There is no "one moment" when Inclusive Tourism advocacy began for me. It is a responsibility that every person with a disability slips on like a backpack as soon as they decide to move beyond whatever is their home geography. It is a choice to be fully human.

Three things motivate me to continue.

First, the idea immediately attracts collaborators. Expressing the definition of Inclusive Tourism very precisely, in a way that describes the solution, makes it easier for others to grasp and take in as their own. That solution is the collaborative process known as Universal Design (often known in the EU as Human-Centered Design or Inclusive Design).

 The second motivator is a commitment to the disability community of future generations. I was unable to fulfill my undergraduate scholarship in Linguistics at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil because the facility was not accessible and its institutional culture was not inclusive. Inclusive Tourism is one way I make certain that new scholars in every part of the world are free to study and enjoy full citizenship. Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is the world's leader in the area of training on student exchange involving students with disabilities. They have created a new generation of academics and professionals with disabilities who will never let this occur again. I am able to continue because of the foundation laid by people like Susan Sygall, founder of MIUSA and her collaborators spread throughout the world.

 Thirdly it is the friendship - the generosity and bottomless resiliency - of those I have the joy of working with around the world that makes this a passion. The secret-hidden-in-plain-sight about disability culture is exactly the opposite of what TABs (Temporarily Able-Bodied people) think. 

Here's a bit of video I showed to counter the image of disability-as-tragedy or people with disabilities as spunky heroes. I like these cheeky little ankle-biters! They would definitely make for fun travel companions.

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