Any information on how to get around New Orleans? I'm there for a few days and would appreciate any tips on sites for good food and music.
I'm assuming you're talking about the French Quarter, as that is the tourist mecca of New Orleans. Overall, accessibility is mixed. The vast majority of sidewalks have curb cuts and there is limited, free handicapped parking on some streets. What you're up against is the French Quarter's venerable age, and old buildings are rarely disabled-friendly. However, there still is plenty you can do and see.
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park has great access and offers accessible walking tours of the French Quarter with advance notice; the New Orleans Voo Doo Museum's door is only 30", but if you can squeeze through, the interior is pretty easy to get around (no bathroom access) and the collection is quite eerie, if not intruiging; the Old U.S. Mint, home to a nice Mardi Gras exhibit, is fully accessible as well.
Some hot music/night spots include: Preservation Hall for traditional New Orleans jazz concerts; Toots Jazz Cafe; Pat O'Brien's Bar which is home of the world famous "Hurricane" drink; Pampy's Tight Squeeze has great blues; and Fritzel's is the place for jazz on Bourbon Street.
Getting around is best achieved by walking, trolley or van rental, as none of New Orleans' cab companies have wheelchair accessible taxis. The Riverfront Streetcar operates along the Mississippi River from Esplanade Avenue to Julia Street and is accessible from boarding platforms at Esplanade Avenue, Urseline Street, Dumaine Street, St. Peter Street, Conti Street, Iberville Street, Canal Street, and Poydras Street. Each accessible car has two wheelchair tiedown areas. The trolley runs 24 hours and costs just $1 per trip.
I was delighted to log on to your web site and how I enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading the stories...Thanks I wanted to find out how to go about hailing a taxi in NYC. Our son 12, has a Quickie manual chair. Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance for your reply....
Glad you enjoy our site, we're trying hard to meet everyone's expectations.
New York doesn't have wheelchair accessible taxis, like the mini-van variety. Instead, city provided accessible transport services must be arranged ahead of time. The service, known as Access-A-Ride (212) 374-5634, runs 24 hours 7 days a week.
However, if your son is able to transfer from his chair into a regular cab, simply stick your arm out on any street-side to hail a cab. Legally, a taxi cannot refuse to pick you up because of a wheelchair, but don't be surprised if some pass you by. Time is money for them and wheelchair users take longer, so service isn't always what it should be. Still, more often than not you'll get your cab shortly.
Having recently returned from our family vacation at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park, I felt I needed to report on the lack of wheelchair accessibility in the campgrounds and at the trailheads.
We've always loved to camp and didn't want the fact that I have MS and use a wheelchair to cramp our style, so we decided to take our two teenage kids back to Mt. Lassen, where we visited ten years ago when they were very little and before I had MS. I got my Golden Access Pass at the gate which allows me and whomever I am with lifelong, free admission into National Parks and a 50% discount on camping fees. Very cool! We then proceeded to Manzanita Lake campground which publicized accessibility.
The setting is so beautiful and most of the campsites are quite spacious and private, although sloped and difficult to maneuver in due to the thick dirt covering most of them. The bathrooms are NOT wheelchair accessible, having a 6 inch step up into them, narrow doorways, no large stalls and no handrails. The bathrooms have clearly not been upgraded or renovated. I never did find the publicized accessible bathroom. The only way I could use the bathroom at our campground was if my husband or teenage son took me into the bathroom. Not great for me or other females using the facilities. The campground in general needs some attention; clearly the roads and campsites have not been maintained, sporting large potholes and missing pavement.
The accessible portables at the Bumpass Hell trailhead were indeed new, modern portable pit toilets with handrails, but they put them on a rise covered with large gravel that was impossible for me to get through myself and nearly impossible for even my husband to pull me through backwards. Who is responsible for designing these facilities? And how can they possibly think that they are satisfying the needs of the disabled? They should have to get into a chair themselves and test their designs before they are approved.
Even though Mt. Lassen is a beautiful and quite fascinating park, it was, all in all, a very disappointing and uncomfortable trip, and I'm afraid I won't be going back any time soon.
Do you know how I can contact the Director of our National Park system? Perhaps money should be spent on bringing our older parks up to date and into compliance with the ADA before new ones are built.
That's a real shame about your trip. Actually, the same lack of accessibility exists even at some of our better known National Parks. The National Park Service Director is Robert Stanton. He can be reached (maybe) at: Robert Stanton, Director, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. Phone: (202) 208-6843.
Another place to register a complaint is with the Department of Justice. The address is: Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Post Office Box 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738.
Don't let this experience stop you from camping in the future. You can learn about two great camping locations on our site. The first is Friends Landing in Washington state (see Destinations article), and the second is Wilderness on Wheels in Colorado (see our Links page in the Resource Site). Happy trails!
Hi, I'm planning a Disney World vacation in October. I'm able to walk short distances, but I need a scooter for my days at the parks: Disney and Universal. Can you give me some information about scooters in the parks? I've never traveled being handicapped. Thank you.
The best place for information on Disney accessibility is at their web site. There, you can print a detailed accessibility guide for every park. (You'll need Adobe Acrobat to open the .pdf guides) Otherwise, call (407) 939-7807 (voice) or (407) 939-7670 (TTY) to request the guides by mail.
The guides cover everything from chair rental to the "no wait" policy to dining access to access requirements on each ride.
Read a reference to your site in the 'fearless traveler' q&a in the San Antonio Express News today. I appreciate the information conrained in your site.
My neice is a c6 and has been so since a car wreck at age 18, 20 years ago. She rarely leaves the house. Does not have a computer.
I am educating myself on the externals of disability travel. We meet in Maine, where we grew up, with extended family each summer. Travel from CA is very difficult for her. Generally takes weeks to recover when she returns. I am trying to educate myself to the options for travel from CA to ME.
Thanks for the site. Tim Hathaway
Obviously, each individual's disability effects them in different ways. The fact that it takes your niece weeks to recover from a trip demonstrates the strain that such an undertaking puts on her system. There could be any number of reasons for this, but one may be the actual way she travels.
To minimize the effort in traveling, she should try to limit the number of steps required for getting from point A to point B. Find a direct flight from California to Maine, or at the very least a flight which doesn't require changing planes. Once in Maine, she should try to recreate her home environment as closely as possible in her hotel. If this means renting a hospital bed, shower chair, or other equipment, she should do so.
Finally, since it sounds like she is fairly inactive in her daily life, she shouldn't over extend herself during this trip. Trying to do much more on vacation than she does at home will definitely exhaust her. If you're all going out together for six hours of activities one day, maybe she should limit herself to three. One last thought is that several weeks prior to her trip she may want to slowly increase her activities in California; in a sense, training for the bigger excursion to Maine.
Thank you for your informative site. I recently returned to work after an accident which caused my left leg to be amputated. I get around in a wheelchair and on crutches. However, due to nerve damage, I require hand controls for driving. In a few weeks, my job will require me to travel.
My only real concern is a vehicle at my destination in Wisconsin. I read your section on accessible rental vehicles, where you mentioned that hand control vehicles are available. Do you know if hand controls are limited to the rental companies you listed, or if there are any Hertz's or Avis's of the world that offer this service?
Thank you in advance for your time, Brian Carlson
Indeed, both Hertz and Avis offer hand controls on their vehicles at virtually all locations, at no extra cost. Advance notice of between 8-48 hours is needed depending upon location, but otherwise rental procedure is the same as those for renting a car without hand controls.
I'm planning a trip to New York City soon but the last time I was there stairs were not a problem like they are now. Does anyone know if a person who can't climb stairs can get down into the subways? Or will I be limited to buses and cabs?
There are only a handful of New York subway stops that are accessible to people who can't climb stairs; not enough to make using the subway a practical transportation choice. Cabs and buses will be your best bet. I'm not sure if you use a wheelchair or not, but cabs and buses with lifts are available throughout the city. Otherwise, as you know, regular cabs can be found everywhere.
My husband and I travel often. He has been in a wheelchair since 1973, so we have considerable experience. We will be visiting Tucson in April, and we want to take the power wheelchair this time. We have always used his manual chair for vacations, but many trips have been ruined by inadequate rental cars. We will rent a wheelchair van in Tucson. We need tips, hints, advice and warnings on how best to get the wheelchair safely to and from our destination on an airplane. We have to change planes on the way out, so we don't want to lose the chair in the process. I wasn't sure how to post this on the Talk Back. Your site is really great. I'd like to add some information about some places we have stayed that are really wonderful.
Air travel with a power wheelchair is far from a snap, but it can be a smooth process if you take the right precautions. First, alert the airline about the chair when you buy your tickets. Second, make sure you get a set of sealed, gel/dry cell batteries for your trip (always refer to them as "dry cell" batteries to airline personnel). Airlines are nutty about the standard acid-filled wheelchair batteries and must remove and specially package any such batteries.
While checking in, get a "gate check" tag for the wheelchair so that your chair will be brought to you at the door of the plane when you land. Some airlines also attach paperwork to the chair stating that the batteries are dry cells (be sure to tell them). Since you are changing planes, have the gate check tag made out for your final destination, unless you have a long enough layover that your husband will need his own chair. If this is the case, have the gate check tag made out for your connecting airport and simply get a new one made out for your final destination at the connecting gate.
After checking in and going to your departure gate, notify the airline personnel at the gate that you'll be flying with your chair and will require assistance with transfers. The next part is a bit of work, but can save you the headache of having a broken chair when you get to your destination.
Using a small bag of tools you've brought with you, disconnect all of the battery terminal wires, motor connection wires, and chin/hand control wires. Cover all exposed terminals or wire clips with electrician's tape and place the loose wires in a carry-on bag. I also remove my chin-control and the chair's computer pack and bring them as carry-on pieces to avoid damage. My experience is that airlines worry when they see wires connected to a battery and will remove them on their own, often breaking things. The disconnection procedure takes between ten and twenty minutes depending on your familiarity with the chair. You'll reconnect everything when you get to your final destination.
You will board the plane first. Release the chair's gears and have airline personnel push your husband to the door of the plane. Once again, point out that the batteries are dry cells and that all the wires have been disconnected. The airline personnel will assist your husband's transfer into an aisle chair, then onto the plane. As soon as he's out of his chair, replace any arm/leg rests that were removed during the transfer and make sure the breaks and gears are released.
Just before take-off, ask a flight attendant to have the captain confirm that your chair has been loaded on board. Hopefully, following these steps you'll arrive in Tucson with a power chair raring to go once you've reconnected everything.
I have been a t-9 para for two years. The one thing I still love to do is golf. I have a specially made "Golf Express" cart and trailer that I pull all over the Upper Midwest. The cart is specially designed for a single rider and has a seat that swivels away from the cart making it possible to swing a club without hitting the cart. The cart is also built with special tires and is light enough to be driven on the greens.
What I would like to know is if their are courses in the country that have these golf carts available for public use. It would be a great help to all the golfers (just like your beach chair article was to beach lovers) if you could compile a list of courses that have these carts available.
I'll get your list started: Braemar Golf Course in Edina, Mn has three carts available and Baker National in Medina, Mn has a cart available.
Any list you could come up with would be of great help. Also, love your web site. It will be of great help in my travels.
Thanks, Jeff Fischer
Great idea! We will indeed start an accessible Golf Course list and post it very shortly. In the meantime, for those of you who are interested, here are three companies which make variations of these ADA Golf Carts: Solo Rider (800) 898-3353; TourONE Group, Inc. (847) 697-1156; Fairway Golf Carts (517) 544-2337.
I like the new features added to the site. A question came up the other day in a discussion I was having with some friends and I figured you'd know the answer, or at least be able to point me in the right direction to look. In order for a hotel to claim that it has accessible rooms, must they provide either a roll-in shower or some sort of tub transfer bench? If they just offer a bathtub can they claim to have a fully accessible bathroom?
Two weeks ago I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Connecticut. When the reservations were made, they claimed they had a fully accessible bathroom. I outlined exactly what I would need and made it known that I was unable to independently bathe in a bathtub. They assured me that was not a problem, that they had a roll in shower with a bench. The bathroom was very spacious, but it did not have a roll-in shower, it had a tub. Also, the toilet was not elevated (I actually measured it- only 13 and 1/2 inches off the floor). When I asked the manager about the possibility of obtaining a tub transfer bench or seat for use in the tub, I was told that the hotel does not provide such accommodations for guests, due to the possibility of the guest falling, injuring themselves and suing the hotel!
So, were they within compliance? Where can I find the regulations regarding compliance?
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter. -Denise DiNoto
The Department of Justice has a good site which answers these questions and more (www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm). However, here are a few highlights to answer your question. Hotels with 50 rooms or less are not required to have roll-in showers, and those with 51-100 rooms need only 1. Toilets are supposed to be 17"-19" with grab bars at 33"-36". Moreover, if only a tub is provided, a transfer seat is supposed to be available, along with grab bars and reachable water controls.
Obviously, this Holiday Inn fell short of compliance, but unless you travel with a copy of the ADA regulations, it's unlikely that they are aware of their shortcomings.
I have a 17 year old daughter with CP in an electric wheelchair. We plan on traveling from Wisconsin to the Grand Canyon this summer for a family reunion. We are going to stay in Flagstaff, AZ and hope to visit Mesa Verde, The Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Merrimac Caverns on the way.
Can you provide any information about these locations? Thanks, Laura
The best place to get accurate information about these and other national parks is through the National Park Service web site. Select each park individually and you will find fairly detailed accessibility information and relevant phone numbers.
Don't forget, when you arrive at the first park, sign up there for the free, lifetime Golden Access Pass which allows free entry into all national parks for disabled individuals and those accompanying them. You will also receive 50% off use fees like camping, tours, etc.
In the past few years my wife and I have tried to do some traveling. We bought a van that my hoyer lift could fit in. We would make reservations where we were guaranteed handicap accessible rooms. We have found that the motels do not know what is needed to qualify for wheelchair accessible. Not all rooms would have roll in showers even when promised and much to our chagrin all rooms have beds that sit on platforms and there is no way to get a hoyer lift under them. So our traveling has been a disappointment. What can be done to let the hotel and motel chains know exactly what a roll in shower is and what is needed for a room to be handicap accessible? -Dave Herrick
Unfortunately, this is a problem many run into. Despite good intentions and the ADA, it is not simply enough to request an accessible room. When making your reservations with a hotel you really need to ask specific questions such as if your room will have a roll-in shower; are light switches lowered; are toilet seats raised; are there grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet; how many beds are in the room and if they're on platforms or legs.
Once you do have these questions answered to your satisfaction, get all of it confirmed in writing so that you have proof when you actually check in. It may seem unfair and a lot of extra effort, but it will save you hassles in the long run.
The issue of the hoyer lift and hotel accessibility is a particularly tough one. I, personally, use a sliding board transfer so a low to the floor, platform bed is better for my situation, while you require a bed on legs with ground clearance. It would be ideal if hotels had a choice of bed types, but most don't, so accessibility at each is functionally different. The most you can do is inquire before-hand and hope you're getting the straight story.
I am planning a trip to Disneyworld in May. I will be traveling with my husband, our 5 year old daughter, and her godmother. We have traveled together before so we are somewhat familiar with potential problems. I was wondering if you had any specific information about a Disneyworld property that you have heard about from some other traveler that they thought was particularly accessible. As we know, all hotels have a different idea of accessibility. We are interested in one of the properties that is a suite situation (at Disneyworld they are called Home Away from Home properties). We will be flying from Memphis, TN and renting an accessible van upon arrival. Any information you could pass along would be helpful. Thank you - Jan Williams
Disney, especially their newer hotels, are good regarding accessibility. However, they have an odd policy of not discussing their specific accommodations with disability organizations. You should probably inquire with them directly. Another alternative, however, is Villas in Orlando. They have build a community of accessible rental homes one exit from Disney! Housing up to 14 people, these might be a good option for you.
First off I have written to you a few times with questions & I really like your site. It is so informative. My questions this time are: If I travel in a plane I would need a bulkhead seat with an armrest that comes up, do any planes have that configuration? Also I heard that a person in a wheelchair might be able to roll on an airplane & get in the first seat if there is enough room? (I can't remember exactly what it said about that.) If I could do that it would save me from having to transfer to the isle seat because I would need two airline staff to lift me & that would eliminate one transfer. Any information on this would be appreciated. Thank You, Marianne M.
I'm glad we've been of help to you in the past. The answers to your current questions are as follow: 1) Some 737s (notably on Southwest Airlines) offer bulkhead seats with movable aisle armrests. Most planes, though, do not - it's either non-bulkhead with armrests that raise or bulkhead with fixed armrests. Go figure! However, it is common & do-able to be transferred/lifted over the bulkhead armrest. 2) It is possible on some larger planes (747 & I think DC-10) to get a wheelchair close enough to the front row for a direct transfer. The problem is, these are almost exclusively first class seats & avoiding the aisle chair probably isn't worth the extra cost. Also, if you sit on a special cushion, you'll still have to be lifted twice - first, to get the cushion out of your wheelchair and to the plane seat, and then to transfer you.
I have recently acquired a power wheelchair (Hoveround) and would like to know if airlines allow battery-powered chairs as cargo. Do they require specs or what? Do I just let them know when making a reservation that I have a power wheelchair that will need to be used to get me to the gate, and then loaded onto the plane as baggage. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Linda Putzel
Airlines must accept power wheelchairs as cargo and, by getting a "gate check tag" will bring your chair to the gate once you've landed. They do greatly prefer dry cell batteries versus acid filled, and certain procedures can help avoid problems with damage to your chair during the flight.
For more extended, detailed coverage of this issue please read our article "What, Me Travel?" in our Tips section.
My wife is semi-mobile, meaning she can walk short distances, but when we travel we take a battery-operated cart. We have had difficulties with various airlines about how they handle the cart. The verbal agreements have been that she rides the cart up to the departure lounge, turn it over to the airline, walk aboard, and THEN, expect that they will deliver it to us at the airplane exit when we land. That is an "iffy" thing to make happen depending upon the airline, depending upon the country. They are quite willing to have it for us at the baggage area, but not always "willing" to live up to their agreements about meeting us at the exit area. I wear a suit, make strong protests that they have agreed to do it, and eventually, they do, after all the crew has left and we are sitting alone, still waiting to get the cart moved from the baggage hold up to us. The cart has taken a pretty bad beating at the hands of unhappy airline people.
Are there any magic words, are there any laws, are there any special departments at the airlines that one has to deal with? Are any airlines notoriously bad or good?
Thanks, Lynne and Dreer Graburn
Sorry to hear about the problems you've been having. There are, indeed, magic words to ensure that your chair/scooter is brought to the gate after landing - they are "gate check tag." The airlines you've flown on are seriously negligent for not having told you about them.
When you check in at the airport request a gate check tag for the cart. Do not get a regular baggage tag for the cart! The airline personnel will fill out the tag & attach it to the cart. This tells the grounds crew at your arrival airport to bring the cart to the gate rather than the baggage area.
You will still be the last off the plane, but your cart should be there waiting for you by the time all the other passengers have filtered off. If it isn't, your approach is correct to demand it be brought to the gate and wait until it is.
Finally, any time your equipment is damaged, demand to speak to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Every airline is required to have one at every airport. The CRO has the power to respond to your complaints. However, be sure to actually file a report with the CRO; don't just let them give you lip-service without guaranteeing the results or compensation you request.
My son is handicapped with Muscular Dystrophy. He can walk, but wears braces on both legs and has trouble getting out of a chair. In order to get up from a sitting position he has to bend forward and sort of rock himself up, or his wife or brother assist him in rising to a standing position. My question is, "How will an airline accommodate him with the narrow seating arrangements?" If the aisle arm rest can be lowered he could swing to the aisle to get to a standing position, but I don't know if the aisle armrests fold down. Can you give me some advice other than going first class for this type of disability?
Thanks, Norma Weddle
Actually, many airline aisle seat arm rests fold up, allowing for easy access to the aisle. Another option is bulkhead seating (the first row of coach) which usually provides extra room sufficient for your son's standing procedure. Simply request the handicapped seating option you need when booking a ticket. Explain the situation and airlines will try to accommodate your needs.
Do you have any tips on access to airline bathrooms? I have post-polio syndrome and use a wheelchair full-time. Are there any aircraft models that feature wheelchair accessible bathrooms? If not, what do fellow gimp travelers do to manage bathroom needs during long flights?
Many thanks for your help. -Angelo D.
ADA regulations only require an accessible bathroom on planes with more than one aisle (i.e. 747 & 777). This is due mainly to the limited space in smaller aircraft. Unfortunately, most of these larger planes are used only for international flights. Not much help to those who need to answer nature's call on a 5+ hour flight from New York to Los Angeles.
In my case, I use an external, condom catheter connected to a leg bag. This allows me to empty the leg bag in my seat using a urinal. My companion then disposes of its contents in the bathroom. Other than the leg bag option, I'd suggest using a bathroom just before boarding and limit your intake on the flight. Not a great or fair solution, but circumstance dictates such necessity some times.
We'd love to hear from others how they handle this!!!
I just bought tickets for a trip to St. Maarten in February for my husband and myself on TWA from JFK. I called the airline about seating and was told that I have to wait until Nov. 11 to book seats. My husband is disabled--7 back surgeries, hip replacement, cervical, shoulder and knee surgeries as well as 3 types of arthritis. A bulk head seat is of the utmost importance. I was told that when I called on Nov. 11 they would book us seats but not the bulk head--those seats are not issued until the day of the flight and on a first come first served basis. We have been on flights before and have seen the bulk heads issued to families with children and people with obviously less disabilities while my husband has been crammed into a regular seat and has had to stand a portion of the flight . Any suggestions as to how this seating arrangement can be made more fair to the really disabled? We always travel with medical documentation.
Thanks, Carolyn Vierling
Unfortunately, different airlines handle this differently, though day of seating for bulkhead isn't uncommon. The best way to approach this situation, based on what TWA has told you, is to arrive at the airport VERY early on the date of your flight. Explain the situation both to the agent at check-in and at the gate. They should give you the bulkhead with no problem, seeing that you are first to request it. If they pull a "it's already assigned," you'll need to cause a scene, but don't accept no for an answer.
Two asides: First, make sure your flight isn't on a 757, as the bulkhead is an emergency exit row and therefore off limits to disabled passengers. Second, on the plus side, TWA is known to upgrade disabled passengers to first class if space is available!
If a disabled traveler has difficulty with an airline while traveling, is there a toll-free number which he or she may call to report the trouble or ask for help?
The Episcopal Disability Network
There are actually two options. First, if the ticket agents or flight attendants can't or won't deal with your problem in a manner you find satisfactory, demand to speak to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Every airline is required to have one at every airport. Don't let them steer you away from this option (often the look on airline personnel's face is shock that you've even heard of a CRO), as only the CRO has real power to resolve your complaint. Also, be sure to actually file a report with the CRO; don't just let them give you lip-service without guaranteeing the results or compensation you request. Second, if the CRO decides that you were not treated unfairly, or if their resolution still doesn't satisfy you, you can report the incident to the: Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, Box 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738. They do have a general information line where they can tell you how to file a report, but don't expect on the spot enforcement help. The number is (800) 514-0301.
I am interested in information for several adults while two being in wheelchairs, wanting to go to Italy. Please send me information and any links you can. Thank you -Martina
Italy is still rather primitive when it comes to accessibility. Since transportation, lodging, and activities are greatly limited, your best bet is to try an accessible tour company which specializes in ‘accessible Italy.' Here are some options: Accessible Italy or Accessible Italy.
My girlfriend and I are going to Portugal, but I don't know where to begin seeking wheelchair accessible transportation and such. Can you help me? Please, forward any information that might help me find my way. I promise a very cool picture upon my return. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Freddie Farach
In Lisbon there are ramped cabs (similar to London Taxis) for rental (day/week) with driver. Call (01) 828 070, 815 2016, 793 2756. Some trains have wheelchair seating as well. Wheeling Around Algrave (089) 399844/5 is a Portugese agency that might be able to help further.
My friend is taking her w.c. user mom to London and needs info on accessible places to visit in London. Do you know of any links that might be helpful? Thank You. Anne Hamilton
Three great links for you: Access in London, Everybody's Hotel Directory, and for a very good tour operator try Undiscovered Britain.
First off, I enjoy the Gimp-On-The-Go site. It fills a need that, up until your site showed up, was a vast wasteland on the internet.
The question I have for you: I am a 30 year old MS patient who really wants to travel to Holland, Amsterdam in particular, but am a little concerned since I know nothing about the layout of the city and whether or not it's going to be friendly to me and my powered wheelchair. I know that accessible accomodations are available in Amsterdam, but what about the rest of the city? Is it a w/c friendly place with lots of curb cuts, or is it a nightmare with nothing but curbs and stairs?
Any information you can provide would be so very helpful - thanks in advance!
Rev. Scott Wedel
Holland, and Amsterdam in particular, is fairly easy to get around in a wheelchair. Old, narrow buildings notwithstanding, the Dutch goverment has done much to make ublic facilities accessible. Still, while many parks, museums and attractions do provide access, you'll find that a fair amount of interesting bars, restaurants and other establishments require traversing stairs to gain entry. Overall, though, you should be able to see much of the city and experience all that you want with just a little determination and ingenuity.
Trains between cities are largely accessible and a guide book and assistance can be requested 24 hours in advance by calling 030-35-5555. Most taxi companies in Amsterdam have minibus, wheelchair accessible cabs that can be requested by phone. The Amsterdam metro is also accessible with elevators at all stations. Maneuvering in the metro cars is tight, but you can request assistance at the station or by calling 020-561-8225.
Finally, the Dutch Touring Association 070-314-6430 offers an access brochure which lists hotels, restaurants and other attractions which the goverment has authorized as accessible.
I will be traveling this summer to Italy. Is there handicapped parking available, and if so, how can I take advantage of it? Thank you.
Handicapped parking, though on the increase, is still pretty limited. Non-Italian handicapped parking placards are generally accepted as valid, so bring along your U.S. one and you should fare well.
I have a client with a wheelchair and walker with very little mobility that plans to travel to Italy with his mobile wife. She will be doing the pushing so cobblestones are a problem. He does not require roll-showers, etc. but hotels with lifts or ground floor rooms are a must--ie. no stairs.
In Rome and Florence I can easily find hotel descriptions with handicap rooms but traveling through Tuscany on the way to Venice with pension-type accommodations are more difficult.
This is probably the last trip they will take with a small amount of spontaneity and semi-independence. So I am looking for help in the small towns between Tuscany and Venice itself. Also, can the train handle a wheelchair from Venice to Milan?
Thank you, Patricia Snyder
Cobblestones are definitely going to be a problem! I know of three different, completely able-bodies visitors to Italy who broke or twisted ankles simply walking across cobbled plazas. Unfortunately, Italy is not the easiest place for a wheelchair user to get around. Still, it is not impossible.
There are several hotels in Tuscany I can suggest that do have wheelchair access. This does not mean grab bars in bathrooms or lowered switches, but simply access to rooms without encountering stairs. In Siena, try the Jolly ExcelsiorHotel (05-77-288-448). In Florence, the Holiday Inn (39-55-6571), Excelsior (39-055-264-201), and Sofitel (39-055-238-1571) shoud all meet your requirements as well.
As for Venice, only 4 bridges are wheelchair accessible (via lifts) and boats (most public "vaporetto" boats have chair access) are a must to get from place to place. The only hotel I know of that will be suitable is the Minotel Diana (39-41-520-6911).
The train station in Venice is accessible, as is the train to Milan.
Hi, just found your site, haven't looked through it completely yet. Sounds promising. Just a suggestion: I've looked at other sites for the disabled and have noticed that many articles/trips are geared toward the wheelchair bound and those with multiple physical disablilites. This is great, but how about articles for the less physically impaired?
I have mild cerebral palsy and walk with a cane a good deal of the time. Which pretty much means I can do almost anything but climbing and excessively long walking tours or endless walking and shopping. I need hotel rooms on the first floor or with minimal steps, and hotel staff that are close by to my room and truly helpful. Maybe tours that don't pack 10 things into one day so that my knees don't die completely?
How about articles for disabled travelers traveling alone (really alone, not with an attendant or spouse.) How about a map of the London tube which shows which stops have elevators as opposed to the dreaded escalator? Maps which show hotels and B&B closest to the most action?
Maybe this is already addressed on your site...I'll finish looking. Just food for thought.
And for crying out loud, don't apologize for calling us gimps... That's what we are, and being politically correct about it is for people with no guts. Nothing noble about being disabled, it's a pain in the butt. I've spent my whole life being labeled, and I don't need another one. I'm just happy to get out and see the world once in awhile. Good luck and happy trails!
Thanks, Lisa Maczura
Lots to respond to...
As I've said before, we truly are trying to broaden the scope of the disabilities we consider when writing our reviews. I think that our hope has been, if we write about accommodations from the perspective of those with severe disabilities, then travelers with less severe ones will be able to extrapolate the adequecy of the facilities for their particular circumstance. However, I see that travel issues which are important to you, such as the distance of walks between rest stops, may not be a consideration at all to someone like me, who goes until my chair's battery dies. This is why we're appealing to our readers to submit articles, so that a true variety of information will be available here. Still, we will continue our attempts to be more inclusive.
Your story ideas, particularly on traveling alone, are quite interesting. We'll try to follow through on them.
On London, here are some hotel ideas: Copthorne Tara (0171 937-7211) and Mount Royal Hotel (0171 629-8040) have the best adapted rooms. Less well adapted, but great locations for being near everything, are the Tower Thistle (0171 481-2575) and the Regent Palace (0171 734-7000).
The London tube map is turning out to be a bit of a problem because of my lack of drawing skills and copyright issues, so here, instead, is a list of stations with an escalator or elevator (if it's not listed it doesn't have either):
Angel Station on the Northern line, Archway Station on the Northern line, Baker Street Station on the Bakerloo/Circle/Metropolitan/Jubilee lines, Balham Station on the Northern line, Bank Station on the Central/Northern lines, Bethnal Green Station on the Central line, Blackhorse Road Station on the Victoria line, Bond Street Station on the Central/Jubilee lines, Bounds Green Station on the Piccadilly line, Brixton Station on the Victoria line, Camden Town Station on the Northern line, Chancery Lane Station on the Central line, Charing Cross Station on the Bakerloo/Northern lines, Clapham Common Station on the Northern line, Clapham North Station on the Northern line, Clapham South Station on the Northern line, Colliers Wood Station on the Northern line, Earl's Court Station on the Piccadilly/District lines, Gants Hill Station on the Central line, Green Park Station on the Jubilee/Piccadilly/Victoria lines, Greenford Station on the Central line, Heathrow Terminal 1-3 Station on the Piccadilly line, Highbury & Islington Station on the Victoria line, Highgate Station on the Northern line, Holborn Station on the Central/Piccadilly lines, Hyde Park Corner Station on the Piccadilly line, Kentish Town Station on the Northern line, Kilburn Park Station on the Bakerloo line, King's Cross Street Station on the Circle/Metropolitan/Northern/Piccadilly/Victoria lines, Knightsbridge Station on the Piccadilly line, Leicester Square Station on the Northern/Piccadilly lines, Liverpool Street Station on the Circle/Central/Hammersmith/Metropolitan lines, London Bridge Station on the Northern/Jubilee lines, Maida Vale Station on the Bakerloo line, Manor House Station on the Piccadilly line, Marble Arch Station on the Central line, Marylebone Station on the Bakerloo line, Moorgate Station on the Circle/Hammersmith/Metropolitan/Northern lines, Notting Hill Gate Station on the Central/Circle/District lines, Old Street Station on the Northern line, Oval Station on the Northern line, Oxford Circus Station on the Central/Victoria/Bakerloo lines, Paddington Station on the Bakerloo/Circle/Hammersmith lines, Piccadilly Circus Station on the Bakerloo/Piccadilly lines, Pimlico Station on the Victoria line, Rotherhithe Station on the East London line, Seven Sisters Station on the Victoria line, Shepherd's Bush Station on the Central line, Sloane Square Station on the Circle/District lines, South Kensington Station on the Circle/District/Piccadilly lines, South Wimbeldon Station on the Northern line, Southgate Station on the Piccadilly line, St. John's Wood Station on the Jubilee line, St. Paul's Station on the Central line, Stockwell Station on the Northern/Victoria lines, Swiss Cottage Station on the Jubilee line, Tooting Bec Station on the Northern line, Tooting Broadway Station on the Northern line, Totenham Court Road Station on the Central/Northern lines, Totenham Hale Station on the Victoria line, Turnpike Lane Station on the Piccadilly line, Vauxhall Station on the Victoria line, Victoria Station on the Circle/District/Victoria lines, Walthamstow Central Station on the Victoria line, Wanstead Station on the Central line, Warren Street Station on the Northern/Victoria lines, Warwick Avenue Station on the Bakerloo line, Waterloo Station on the Bakerloo/Northern/Jubilee lines, Wood Green Station on the Piccadilly line.
Bank Station on the Central/Northern lines, Belsize Park Station on the Northern line, Borough Station on the Northern line, Caledonian Road Station on the Piccadilly line, Chalk Farm Station on the Northern line, Covent Garden Station on the Piccadilly line, Earl's Court Station on the Piccadilly/District lines, Edgware Road Station on the Bakerloo line, Elephant & Castle Station on the Bakerloo/Northern lines, Gloucester Road Station on the Central/District/Piccadilly lines, Goodge Street Station on the Northern line, Hammersmith Station on the District/Piccadilly lines, Hampstead Station on the Northern line, Heathrow Terminal 1-3 Station on the Piccadilly line, Hillingdon Station on the Metropolitan/Piccadilly lines, Holland Park Station on the Central line, Holloway Road Station on the Piccadilly line, Kennington Station on the Northern line, Lambeth North Station on the Bakerloo line, Lancaster Gate Station on the Central line, Mornington Crescent Station on the Northern line, Queensway Station on the Central line, Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo line, Russell Square Station on the Piccadilly line, Shadwell on the East London line, Tufnell Park Station on the Northern line, Wapping Station on the East London line.
Barking Station on the District/Hammersmith lines, Chalfont & Latimer Station on the Metropolitan line, Chesham Station on the Metropolitan line, Chorleywood Station on the Metropolitan line, Dagenham Heathway Station on the District line, Elm Park Station on the District line, Epping Station on the Central line, Euston Station on the Northern/Victoria lines, Hammersmith Station on the District/Hammersmith/Piccadilly lines, Heathrow Terminal 1-4 Station on the Piccadilly line, Hillingdon Station on the Metropolitan/Piccadilly lines, Kensington Station on the District line, Kew Gardens Station on the District line, New Cross Station on the East London line, Richmond Station on the District line, Sudbury Town Station on the Piccadilly line, Upney Station on the District line, Uxbridge Station on the Metroplitan/Piccadilly lines, West Finchley Station on the Northern line, Woodside Park Station on the Northern line.
I am a low level Quad, who would like to travel to Ireland and Scotland. Would you have any suggestion on where I might obtain information on Disabled Travel in Europe.
Michael A Breaux
I've got several helpful sources for you. The first is a web site called Everybody's Hotel Directory, which has a huge list of accessible hotels throughout the U.K.
Another place you may look is Undiscovered Britain which is a travel agency specializing in accessible tours throughout Britain.
On a broader note: You'll find the rail system (DART & ARROW) in Ireland pretty accessible, as are Black Taxis (01)-844-5844, however buses are not set up to handle wheelchairs. Hotels with decent access exist in most Irish provinces including Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary and more. You'll also be able to get into a good deal of attractions throughout Ireland.
Scottland, too, is fairly good with wheelchair access. Transportation conditions are similar to those in Ireland and lodging in Edinburgh, Dumfries, Glasgow, Fife, Inverness and other areas is available.
Planning a trip to Castas Del Spain. I had a stroke 4 years ago. I need a wheelchair because I can't walk far. Do I have to bring my own wheelchair?
Most likely you will need to supply your own wheelchair. Many American hotels offer wheelchairs to their guests, however, Europe is often a different story. You can always call your hotel and ask if they have wheelchairs available. If not, bringing a manual chair aboard a plane is very easy. Simply check it as baggage with a "gate check tag," or if it folds up the stewards may be able to store it in the plane's coat closet. Either way, bringing your chair with you shouldn't pose a problem.
I love your web site. Keep up the good work. Do you have any ideas on traveling through Scotland. I will be taking my mother who is 83 and in need of a wheelchair for longer distances. Regards, Charlene Blanco
Try Undiscovered Britain, which specializes on tours of England, Scotland and Ireland for disabled and mature travelers. They run several group tours every year, or can arrange individual itineraries including hotels, transportation and attractions.
I have been to Europe with my wheelchair before with some success for a cruise and a bus tour of Austria, Switzerland and Germany. We are returning to Paris early next year and need to determine the best way to get around. Taxi would be my last choice but... Any help you could give would be great. Had a good experience last year in Milan using subway B for hotel and downtown access. Had similar experience in Vienna a couple of years ago. -J. English
There is a booklet you can get (Transport Guide for People with Reduced Mobility), detailing the accessibility of public transportation in Paris. Call (01) 47 23 01 25 for a copy. The low down, however, is that the Metros, RER and city buses are virtually all inaccessible to wheelchair users. AIRHOP (01) 41 29 01 29 and AMHAP (01) 42 80 40 20 are accessible motorcoaches that require 48 hour advance notice. Otherwise you're looking at taxis.
One possible option, though costly, is to rent a wheelchair accessible van from England and arrange to have it delivered to you in Paris. Wheelchair Travel 01483 233640 and Tripscope 0181 994 9294 are two transportation companies which may be able to help.
HI....I am familiar the group called "Dialysis at Sea" does any one in your group have any experience with them??
Also, is there any other way to take a cruise if you are on dialysis??? What is their experience with insurance coverage???
Nobody on staff has personal experience, however, if any of our readers do I'll forward any information to you. We do know that they operate in association with several cruise lines such as Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Holand America.
Many major cruise ships do include dialysis machines as part of their medical equipment. You'll need to make specific arrangements (including insurance coverage) with the particular cruise line beforehand, however, as accommodations and policies do vary from ship to ship.
My husband & I want to travel on a cruise soon. He is in a chair, a spinal cord injury left him a parapeligic last year. He now uses a manual wheelchair however we are purchasing a jazzy.
Question #1: Is it easier to travel with a manual chair rather than a power one?
Question #2: We live in New York. Are there any cruise lines (equipped) that leave to the islands from New York rather than flying out of Florida? If so...any info?
We are new at this and any information you can give would be helpful.
In point of fact, it is usually easier for everyone (except the chair user) to travel with a manual chair instead of a power one. The chair is lighter, more portable and has fewer parts to break. However, your husband's independence and mobility will be limited.
As for sailings from New York, Carnival has several, but those go to Canada, and Cunard has QE2 sailings from New York to England. If the Caribbean is where you want to visit, you're probably going to have to start from Florida.
My brother is a parapelegic and would very much like to try and go on a cruise. Is there one ship that you recommend over others? Also if someone is in a wheelchair can they manage in a regular cruise cabin or must they have one specifically for a wheelchair confined person? Also he has a service dog. What provisions need to be made for the service animal on the ship itself and in the port cities of call. Thank you for your assistance. Barbara Herman
Rule of thumb, newer is more accessible. That said, most cruise ships now have handicapped accommodations which include space for turning radius, flat thresholds and accessible bathrooms. Choosing one boat or one cruise line over another is somewhat a matter of taste, though Princess may have the best reputation and history for accommodating their disabled passengers.
I do not recommend a wheelchair user trying to get by in a "regular" room. This is not like a land based hotel. You will often find 2-3" thresholds at doors in both rooms and bathrooms. Also, added furniture or the layout can make already limited room space nearly impossible to navigate in a chair.
Each ship has its own policy on guide dogs (feeding arrangements, bathroom facilities, etc.), as do the various countries that govern your ports of call. Many places will not allow foreign dogs onto their soil without months long quarantines. My advice is to directly ask the cruise line of your choice about their policy and either they, or you, will need to determine the laws at your various ports of call.
Recently I took my first cruise. For the most part I enjoyed myself although there were a few difficult times. As a visually handicapped person some of the suggestions in your web site will help out next time.
You suggest bringing a cane even if you don't need it. OK, I will borrow one. Things happened like I stumbled over a raised floor in a pizza parlor, well this happens but try to get served an alcoholic beverage after. NO WAY. Just grin and bear it.
In Jamaica upon returning to the ship I walked right through customs. Oh they called to me but I didn't understand. I had no idea it was a customs station. One of the other ship travelers told me "customs." Grin and bear it. On the second trip through customs I knew what to expect and addressed the situation like a pro.
In Cosumel the cane would have help me shoo off the pushy shop owners. I stopped several times in the square only to take a breath of air and the storekeepers pounced on people. The cane; back I say, back, back!
I'm planning to go on the same trip at the end of the year. The same room, ship, the locations. The first is training and learning. The second time is when I party! Now where is that? -Cliff.
Some interesting issues you had to deal with; thanks for sharing. I wonder just how much bringing a cane will impact future incidents? Please let me know. In any case, it sounds as if your second time around should be a blast. Have a Red Stripe for me at the pizza parlor this time.
I was recently on a transatlantic cruise from England to the United States. I have cruised many times in the past, but ran into a problem on this cruise concerning the gangways from the ship to the individual ports we visited. I did extensive research before the trip, but discovered that in most of ports gangways were used that contained steps instead of ramps. When I questioned the excursion office on the ship, I just received the usually run-around. Since I can not handle steps, I had to remain on the ship at the majority of destinations.
My questions is; "What is the best way to research the gangway question prior to a cruise?" When I questioned the ship personnel, I was told that the individual piers use their own gangways, and the cruise doesn't have anything to do with it, and yet I saw that the gangways at some of the ports were actually taken off the ship and put back on the ship when we were leaving port.
I would appreciate any information you can give me, as I've scheduled a cruise to Bermuda for next year and would like to make sure I can get off the ship!
Thank you in advance, Tammie Tschappat
It sounds as if you did many of the right things in trying to research your cruise, despite the outcome. Although it may sound extreme, and certainly unfair, in addition to talking to the cruise line before the trip, you may want to call the port authorities at each of the stops along your route to ask about their equipment. As always, get names and titles, which can be used later if discrepancies arise.
My last bit of advice, if you know well in advance which boat and route you're taking, is to get on the net and ask other disabled travelers their experiences with this specific itinerary.
Do you have any ideas for a cruise vacation for a paraplegic and husband. I do not like to be carried to tenders (sp) I thank you for your services. I enjoy reading your site. -Lavonne Hite
The biggest issue of accessible cruising is turning out to be the shore excursions. The ships, themselves, are now doing a good job of providing accessible cabins, decks, and on-board amenities, but getting from the ship to shore still leaves much to be desired.
Unfortunately, every ship and every itinerary is different. The size of the ship, the depth of the water at a port, the port's equipment, and even the weather all effect the ability of disabled passengers to participate in shore excursions.
Because so many factors are involved, the best way to go about planning your cruise is to contact the cruise line and ask about the tenders and ramps at each specific stop along your proposed route. You may even want to call the port authority at each stop to confirm their equipment and procedures. Even so, there will still be places where going ashore just doesn't make sense or conditions have changed since your original inquiry. Hopefully, though, with advance planning you can select a trip where the method of getting off for excursions meets your accessibility needs.
I just read up your info about hearing impaired and traveling. I was wondering if you had any tips for deaf people going on a cruise? I am going on a cruise with a group of people..but I am the only deaf in the group. Can you tell me (or point me in the direction) to find out my rights or possible accommodations for a deaf person going on a cruise? I'll be going on American Hawaiin Cruise lines. Thanks a million! Laura Obara
ADA law requires that cruise ships be equipped with visual alert kits to make cruising accessible to those with hearing disabilities. These kits include items like flashing lights or vibrating devices to alert a passenger to everything from a fire alarm to an alarm clock to a phone call to a knock at the door. Your t.v. should have closed captioning, theaters offer infra-red listening devices, and I've even heard that some cruise lines are trying out employing ASL interpreters. There are also TTY units available for your stateroom and throughout the ship at public phones.
When you reserve your cruise, be sure to contact the coordinator of accessibility and disabled passengers to notify them of your needs and confirm their services and procedures. Not every room is alert kit ready, so don't just show up unannounced and assume they'll be able to accommodate you at a moment's notice. With just a little pre-planing you're sure to have a great time.
By the way, we'd love it if you'd write a trip review for us afterward!
My father who is in a wheelchair w/ paralysis from the waist down is going on a 10 day Panama Canal Cruise w/ Princess Cruise Lines. They will be visiting the ports of Cartegena, Limon Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Do you have any suggestions for shore excursions or anyone that I can contact for transportation with a wheelchair lift??? Any hints will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the great web site. Keep up the good work.
Sincerely, Joanne P Kortenhaus
Having just met with cruise line representatives from several lines, here is my best advice. Your father should, if he hasn't already, contact Princess' coordinator for disabled passengers. He should call first, then confirm by mail or fax, a written list of the accessibility features he requires. Included should be a request to find out which shore excursions use a gangway and which require a tender, are the tenders are accessible, and once ashore if there is accessible transportation. While the booking agent probably won't have this information, the cruise line's office of accessibility should be able to get an answer for you.
Agents / Tours
I have MS and walk slowly and not great distances. I have no one to travel with. Do you know of any such groups that travel together? Thank you very much, Suzanne
Absolutely. Turtle Tours (800-453-9195) and Accessible Journeys (800-846-4537) both organize just such tours on a regular basis.
Enjoyed your page(s!) Question: I think I am looking for a group tour, or a specialized cruise. My sister uses a wheelchair and we are looking to buy her a cruise or trip to a spa or something, toward the end of 2001, for a surprise. She travels independently for business events, but hasn't gotten much pleasure out of that. She also doesn't have a chance to be around other people with disabilities.
It would be great if she could be on a cruise where there were other independent travelers with disabilities, and a cruise that included a personal assistant with the cabin so that she could dress and shower each morning and then go have a great day. The reason I specify this is because we went to Hawaii together, and it was frustrating to see her always on the edge of events designed for able-bodied people (e.g. pools, beach visits, etc.)
Perhaps a cruise is not the best thing; but there must be agencies; tours; locations something! which specialize in pampering folks with disabilities. Do you have advice? Thanks!
As noted in the last question, there are quite a few agencies that specialize in group tours for disabled travelers. The list above is a good resource, but if you are particularly interested in a cruise with an attendant, you may just want to book an accessible stateroom and hire an aide through either Travel Aides International or Travel Care Companions.
My family and I are planning to travel from Virginia to Sanibel Island off of the Gulf Coast of Florida over the summer to celebrate my recent college graduation.
I have Muscular Distrophy and use a motorized wheelchair, therefore travel by airplane is somewhat of a nuisance. We considered driving, but thought of possibly taking the Amtrak "auto train." According to the Amtrak WebSite all trains are accessible and allow disabled passengers to remain in wheelchairs for the trip. I wonder if you have ever traveled on Amtrak and if so, how is the accessibility on the trains? Is the "auto train" accessible?
Thank you for any help you can offer, Jeff McAllister
Congratulations on your graduation!
Actually, we do have some experience with Amtrak's auto train. A couple of the train's cars do offer wheelchair access which allows reasonsable movement through the car and secure lock downs for your chair.
One thing you must realize is that this is a long, overnight trip. Many wheelchair users have issues with sitting time restrictions. While there are some wheelchair accessible cabins, as opposed to the main "seats only" section, the cabins are pretty small and the fold down beds are quite narrow and not ideal for transferring into. This does not mean that it can't be done, just that it's not easy.
If your sole purpose in choosing the train over air travel is to make the trip easier, you may find you've traded one set of difficulties for another. Still, the auto train is an interesting experience and if you want to give it a shot, you may end up loving it.
I've not seen trains discussed much as far as getting around on one in a power chair. I know Amtrak has accessible berths on some trains but I want to know what it's like to get to the dining car or observation car. Those glass domed observation cars intrigue me but they appear to be on an upper level. Is it possible to turn around or pull over in the halls? More info please! Thanks, Wendy
Depends on the train. Getting from car to car usually isn't a problem and turning can usually done at the entrance area of most cars. Turns can be somewhat tight, but again, it depends on the type of train. The new Acela offers more room and easier access. As for the domed observations cars, some do require climbing stairs to get to the upper windows. It's best to discuss the specific access of your train when making reservations. Overall, though, Amtrak has been a delightful mode of transportation from my personal experience & most reports I've gotten.
My husband (who is a wheelchair rider) and I purchased round trip tickets to Hong Kong at a charity auction. We are receiving mixed reviews on accessibility. We are not worried about a hotel as we will stay in an upscale chain, but wonder about sightseeing.
My husband is a para, L-2 complete, due to a spinal cord injury. He uses a folding manual quickie. He doesn't like to be carried up and down stairs. Any suggestions?
First off, Hong Kong is a spectacular city; one of the most fascinating anywhere in the world. You are going to love it!
As for accessibility, no, it's nowhere close to what we have in the US, but part of traveling for anyone is to experience a different way of living, and making do with the more limited accommodations can be part of the adventure. That said, Hong Kong is very "do-able" in a wheelchair, especially for a para.
Hong Kong is divided by water into Hong Kong island and Kowloon. You'll probably do better lodging in Kowloon which is flatter and more easily accessible. An accessible ferry (Star Ferry) makes regular trips between the two areas.
You'll probably find that you can walk just about everywhere, needing a taxi (standard, non-wheelchair adapted) only to see outlying attractions such as the don't-miss Stanley Market.
Curb cuts don't exist, but curbs are quite low and can be gotten over fairly easily. Street shops are often tiny and cluttered, making them inaccessible to anything but the entertaining window shopping. However, hidden in the city's massive skyscrapers are huge, modern, accessible shopping malls all interconnected by tunnels. Restaurants and other attractions will be accessible insofar as a chair can gain entry to them, but bathrooms will be a problem.
On a final note, unlike Europe, where local populations often go out of their way to help disabled visitors, the Chinese cultural view of handicapped individuals is that we are unlucky. Don't be surprised or too put off if you get some unfriendly stares or find people avoiding you, it's all part of the experience.
Thank´s for your answer about my traveling question. It´s not easy for you to know where I like to go in this big world. In this moment, I plan to go to the Seyschells, the small island in the pacific of India. Do you know some good hotel for wheelchair users on the island ? A big bathroom is important ! I´ve a regular wheelchair, 66 centimeter wide.
My next question is about a South Africa Safari. I like to go to a small "exclusive" lodge, or a camp. Close to the real wildlife. Have you heard about a famous reservate called Penal ( or something like that, it begins with a " P " ) in South Africa ?
As I told you before, I really enjoy to travel around the world. To see and learn about other cultures. The "easiest" country I´ve visit, was New Zealand. Very easy for wheelchair-users, and the people were friendly and helpful in a very good way. A beautiful, but rainy country, as I really can recommend for you, who like to go around by car, meet the Maori-people, look at the big Kaori-trees, see the active vulcano-steem - and feel the smell ! Sometimes I rented a small helicopter, because it was the best way to see as much as possible, and it wasn´t too expensive. I stayed on the two Islands one month in December/January, before I left to Hawaii for one month more.
Totally, I have visit around 35 different countries in the world, and my biggest problem is to find places to stay, with good bathrooms for disabled.
Somebody asked about England, and it´s a very interesting country to visit. But outside London, it can be hard to find a good and cheap place to stay, if you are sitting in a wheelchair. Rooms for disabled, are usually easyer to find in more expensive hotels. I have bad experiences of using the Tourist Information in England for hotel reservations, because they promised much more than they could keep... I started to use my mobilphone, to make my resrevations by myself.
I look forward to read the anserws of my travel questions, and thank´s a lot !
On wednesday I´m going to Lisbon, Portugal, and see how it looks like and meet the European spring for two weeks.
Best regards from, Bo G Ornheim, Stockholm, Sweden.
I must say, I'm somewhat jealous of your extensive travel itinerary. It sounds like you've been to some fascinating places. Perhaps you would write an article on one of your journeys to share with us?
The Seychelles are somewhat limited in their handicapped accommodations. However, I am aware of one hotel which does offer some accessible rooms. The Plantation Club Hotel & Casino, Baie Lazare, PO Box 437, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles. Tel: (248) 361361. Please call to confirm. I know nothing about accessible transportation on the island.
Regarding South African safaris, I don't know the reserve you're thinking of, however, I am aware of two safaris that are capable of accommodating wheelchair users. The first is Ndiza Tours, and the second is Wilderness Wheels Africa: 117 St Georges Street, Observatory, Johannesburg, 2198, South Africa, Tel: +27-11-6485737.
IF YOU ARE IN A WHEELCHAIR, FORGET SOUTH AMERICA. I was treated very nicely and the people were very "helpful" but the facilities, even in American named hotels were almost non-existent. The facilities in Rio were none. You could not ride down a sidewalk without fear it would run out on a moments notice. The handicapped equipped bathrooms in Rio were one in a million. Checking into a hotel was a crap shoot, even with advance reservations for handicap equipped rooms that had been confirmed and reconfirmed, sometimes at great expense of a person-to-reservationist at the Rio facility. I found travel agents KNEW nothing, even though they made promise after promise. There is not a wheelchair-ready taxi cab in Rio and only one company in Santiago, Chile that I could locate. But forget transportation because there is NOWHERE to be transported to. Seems that several centuries ago the local businesses decided that all store entrances should be accompanied by a 3" curb to cross the "threshold".
My experience in the Falklands, and the countries of South America ( Terra Del Fuego, Valparaiso, Puerto Mott, Punta Arena, Buenos Aires and Rio ) on a round-the-horn trip to SA was one of feeling like a prisoner on a floating jail. I exited the ship in Montevideo and rode though a small market, I exited in Buenos Aires and found the port was 2 miles from any activity and 10 miles from a center of the action - not fun.
There was one bright spot - the Santiago Sheraton was splendid with great, great food and drinks and pool and one room, which I was able to secure after several confirmations and speaking directly with the hotel General Manager. The hotel was almost too nice, acting as if they had never seen a guy in an electric wheelchair. I hired a taxi and "toured" Santiago by private taxi. I did not see ONE OTHER person in a wheelchair in all of Santiago even though I traversed hundreds of streets: in fact; I never saw a mother pushing her babies around in a baby stroller, the curbs were so frequent and HIGH. Bread and Coke delivery personnel in the streets never left the street and braved unconscious drivers weaving around as if the lines in the road meant to be straddled.
I have never had so much trouble in Europe, Japan, or Canada. South America cities might as well be the sands of the "outback" or the flooded plains of Africa. Remember one thing and only one thing: FORGET SOUTH AMERICA if you are wheelchair bound, It is not even good if you have ANY ACCESS ISSUES. --Charles Ross
Thanks for the detailed insight. One note- Peru is making a concerted effort to improve accessibility throughout its major cities and even Machu Pichu. They still have a long way to go, but are at least cataloging the accessibility of facilities and planning changes for the near future. We'll be following their efforts in a coming article.
I have been injured for 3.5 years. I am a c7 quad and I use a manual chair. I am very close to being totally independant. One of the biggest problems I have with vacations is that I no longer perspire. I have real trouble dealing with anything above the low 80's. Any advice on dealing with this? Thanks, FOMART
I know the problem well, though living in a warm climate, my tolerance is closer to 90. In any case, the best way to combat heat-stroke is to stay well hydrated, dump water over your head every 15 minutes or so, avoid long periods in the sun and worship air conditioning. I've been in 117 degree heat in Vegas, humid 95 degree heat in Costa Rica and live with sultry DC summers. Go ahead and travel, but always carry water and head inside every half hour to cool down. You'll do fine that way.
My wife suffered a stroke as a result of a skiing accident four years ago. Given the severity of the stroke, she has made an amazing recovery, although she still has no use of her left arm.
For the past four years we have traveled throughout the world (bush camps in Africa, remote areas in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and North America). Whenever my wife has to use the restroom, I go into the ladies room with her to assist her. We have never encountered a problem with this and have never had objections from the women in the ladies room once they understand our situation. However, we were in the Jacksonville, FL, airport in May and encountered a serious problem. As usual, I attempted to assist my wife who was in a wheelchair. A male police officer objected to my taking my wife into the ladies room to assist her. We asked him what we should do, and he essentially said it was none of his business, but that I could not assist my wife in the ladies room. When I asked for the name and telephone number of the officer's supervisor, the officer became extremely agitated, demanded my drivers license, and disappeared with it for about thirty minutes. This almost caused us to miss our flight. Needless to say, we have filed a complaint against the officer with the police authorities.
For the future, we would like advice regarding what to do when my wife needs to use a ladies room and I need to assist her. As a result of the stroke, her bladder control is not what it used to be, so she generally has to get into the ladies room very quickly. In other words, we do not have the luxury of time to find someone, explain our situation, and request that the ladies room be cleared out. Thank you, JEFFREY A. PRUSSIN
That police officer was a real jerk. You were totally in the right. Unfortunately, he had the power. Many airports are now installing special unisex handicap bathrooms, but in places where these don't exist, your method is best. In the particular situation you faced I probably would have complied with the officer (once I realized he wasn't budging) and simply found another set of (unguarded) bathrooms. Definitely pursue your complain against this guy!
As a person who lives with a disability and a person who works with him we are highly offended by your blantanty insensitivity to people in wheelchairs. Maybe if you thought more about people's feelings and the group you are catering to rather than just a catchy slogan your efforts would be beneficial. As a sidenote we think you are ass monkeys for such ignorance -- Drew Lamprich and Lucas Keller
We appreciate that you're offended. We see our name with it's humorous intent, but we're all allowed our opinions. Just so you know, everyone connected with Gimp on the Go is disabled; most are wheelchair users, and none of us takes ourselves or our disabilities so seriously that we can't laugh about it all. Furthermore, in the three-plus years we've been around, your e-mail is only our sixth that voices disapproval - the vast majority of our disabled readers love the irreverence of our name. Finally, I hope our gay readers don't take offense at your use of the term "ass monkeys." Though, come to think of it, since they are readers of our site, they probably aren't as uptight as you two and will have a sense of humor about it.
Can you tell me if the airlines will let you take your motorized wheelchair on board and if they charge you? What about cruises?
Airlines and cruise ships do, indeed, allow people to travel with their motorized wheelchairs at no extra cost.
Not every cruise ship is wheelchair accessible, but most are these days. Call the cruise line you're interested in to find out about their specific accommodations. Certainly, the newer ships are a breeze to get around in a wheelchair, and many ports of call have fairly good access as well.
Airlines, while accepting motorized chairs, do require that the chair be stored in the cargo hold during the flight, unless the chair can be folded to fit in a cabin storage area. Airlines prefer gel or dry cell batteries to acid ones, but there are procedures they can employ to handle every battery type.
The normal routine has a wheelchair user transferring out of his or her wheelchair to an "aisle chair" at the gate. This aisle chair is narrow enough to fit down the plane's aisle, bringing you to your seat where you will once again transfer. Aisle chairs have several belt restraints, and airline personnel will assist in all physical transfers from seat to seat.
Meanwhile, your motorized chair will be disconnected if you haven't already done so, and stored below with the luggage. Make sure you request a "gate tag" at check-in, so that your chair is brought to you at the gate upon landing.
See the tips area of this website (What, Me Travel? and Of Planes and Power Chairs) for further information.
My father is a polio victim and until recently was only in the wheelchair part-time. He could get to his feet and use a walker for short distances, i.e., to and from the car. He has broken his leg, is 6'8" tall, and been told he is now permanently in the chair. At 76 years old he does not want to give up traveling by car to visit his family. My mother drives but at her age now, lifting the chair into the trunk of the Lincoln is beyond her.
They are in need of another type of vehicle but the mini-vans are too high to slide into the seat from his chair. What's the next step? A van with a ramp or lift? Where can they go to see what options are out there? I know a van can be fitted, but how do they research the best model or what stats are needed in the van in the first place. Do they sell vans already outfitted?
I am just starting my search and have no idea where to begin.
Thank you for any direction you can give me.
Don't worry, your father absolutely shouldn't need to give up traveling by car. There are a couple of good options for he and your mother. The first is an automated chair carrier that can be attached to their current vehicle. This device mounts on top of a car and automatically lifts and stores a wheelchair inside a sturdy, plastic container. These devices can usually be ordered through medical supply stores or rehabilitation hospitals. One example of such a device can be found at Tip Top Mobility.
However, if getting in and out of a car seat is becoming difficult for your father, a mini-van with a ramp is a good answer. There are at least a dozen companies focusing on mini-van conversions, but four that have been around for some time are the Braun Entervan (800-843-5438), Associated Rollx Vans (800-956-6668), Vantage Mobility International (800-348-8267), and Independent Mobility Systems (800-467-8267).
These companies and others sell converted mini-vans with ramps, primarily Ford and Dodge due to their large interiors, in various seating configurations. They deliver or have outlets nationwide and will work with you to adjust the van to your specific needs.
For means of comparison, have each company send you their information. Also, if there is a rehabilitation hospital in your area give them a call to get their input. Finally, there are disability expos throughout the country at various times during the year. Like a car or computer show, this is a good way to view and become familiar with the array of products on the market.
My husband Cory suffered a spinal cord injury in 1995. He does not use a wheelchair but is only able to walk very short distances. He is willing to use a scooter when we go on vacation. We have tried a few short trips in the past and they have been disasters. As you know handicapped access for one person might not work for another. It is very difficult to make plans, most people with whom you speak with are clueless.
I hope that you will be able to help us. We are a young family with two small children who should be able to see the world with us.
Thank you, Nadine Wieder
Don't let your past travel disasters dissuade you from continuing to travel. Most likely, all you need is more thorough planning before you go. As you said, you and your family should be able to see the world together, and really, there is no reason you can't make that happen.
In general you are correct; what is accessible for one person may not be for another. As such, when scouting out travel destinations, don't simply ask if a hotel is accessible - get specifics! Ask if there are grab bars or roll-in showers in the bathrooms. Are light switches and closet rods lowered? Make sure all of the public facilities are accessible, from bathrooms to gift shops. Ask whatever questions are specifically relevant to your situation. Once you know what you'll be facing, you can plan how best to make things work for you.
On a more specific note, we would be glad to help you with advice on a particular trip once you've decided where to go. Drop us a line anytime.
A little while back you had mentioned a WebSite about wheelchairs in response to one of the letters to the editor. It was a somewhat quirky site, but with lots of useful information on different chairs, cushions, etc. I checked out the letters to the editor archives, but it was no longer listed. If you could publish it again, it would be appreciated.
Thanks, Jeff McAllister
Absolutely. The site is called Wheelchair Junkie. They offer incredible information on all sorts of wheelchairs with a wry, progressive point of view. If you're in the market for a chair, this is the place to do your research!
This website is a great discovery! It truly gives me hope as I am trying to plan a trip with my sister-in-law who has Multiple sclerosis and is totally wheelchair bound. Airline travel is difficult to the extreme, so I am trying to find a cruise probably to Bermuda that departs from Boston where we live. Travel assistance and personal care help is where I am stuck--she is 200plus lbs. to my 115--can only be moved via Hoyer lift.
Any direction or help you could pass on would be terrific. Your website and gallery are inspiring. Thank you ever so much. Bea
Glad you like the site, we're always pleased to know that people find our work helpful.
Your idea for a cruise is good; most are accessible, you unpack only once and still get to travel to various destinations. However, there are three issues you are dealing with: First, I'm unaware of any Bermuda/Caribbean cruises departing from Boston. They may exist, but I'm skeptical. Fortunately, Celebrity has several cruises leaving from New York to Bermuda or the Caribbean, and these may be an option. Second, I'm sure the Hoyer lift can be brought aboard with you if you coordinate with the cruise line before hand. What I can't answer is whether the beds are on legs or platforms. If they are on platforms you probably won't be able to get the lift underneath the bed, making it useless. You'll want to inquire about this before hand. Third, hiring a travel aide is definitely an option. There are a few companies such as Travel Aides International and Travel Care Companions where you can hire a travel attendant, or you might try putting an ad in a college newspaper (especially if they have a physical therapy program) trading the free cruise for the student's services as a travel aide.
I'm looking for a warm place to go for a winter vacation that's not too much trouble to arrange and get to but has a very dependable company who can supply me with liquid oxygen. I'm thinking of St. Thomas or another Carribean Island, or possibly some warm place in the U.S., but not Florida. Planning to be gone for up to 10 days starting end of Jan/beginning of Feb. I live in Minneapolis so I'm looking for someplace convenient from here. Has to be on an airline that provides oxygen- some don't. Do you know of any travel agents that specialize in planning trips for people with disabilities?
Thanks for any input, Simmie
Let me start with the airline question. Almost all major US airlines will supply oxgen, at a cost, with advance notice. If you're in doubt, call the airline or check their oxygen policy at their web site. As for locations, you'll be able to get oxygen delivered to just about any Caribbean island you choose. There is a company, TravelMed International 800-878-3627 which rents/delivers medical equipment including oxygen all over the world. Otherwise, you may try calling the local hospital and see if they can point you to a supplier.