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Surfing For Accessibility

Reprinted from PN February 2018

New travel websites are making it easier to determine the accessibility of a hotel, restaurant or attraction during your next trip.

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It would seem that making accessible travel plans has never been so easy. With the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the internet, travelers should be able to log on to any number of hotel, airline, restaurant or multi-purpose websites and click away, right? Not quite.

Many hotels tout themselves as accessible, but upon arrival you can sometimes find unworkable bathroom layouts, varying grab-bar placements, ill-placed furniture and challenging bed heights. And if you’re looking to venture beyond the ADA boundaries, even the simplest of needs can turn into roadblocks. Enter a handful of growing websites designed by and for travelers with disabilities, from homegrown wheelchairjimmy.com to handiscover.com, an international Airbnb of sorts for people with varying disabilities.


“People in our community have the same rights as others to be able to search and find accommodations on websites that are modern, easy to use and cover a lot of choices,” says Handiscover Founder and CEO Sebastien Archambeaud. “As a family, we always manage to travel, but it has always required weekends and weekends of Googling around and asking specific questions, 
requesting pictures, the work that we have to do ahead so we don’t end up in an ‘accessible’ accommodation that has a bathroom on an inaccessible third floor.”

Lots Of Potential 

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. That leaves a lot of potential travelers hanging when it comes to booking accommodations.

“Handiscover enables disabled people to discover the world,” Archambeaud says. “On a lot of travel sites, you click on boxes for hairdryer, toaster, wheelchair access, but in many cases, that box puts you in places where you can enter the door but can’t use the restroom. On a worldwide basis, no one can agree what those standards should be, so we decided we’ll  put something behind our icons. We don’t care about regulations. To have these icons, you need to meet specific standards.”

 

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Surfing For Accessibility

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