A Guide to Ableism: Travel Edition – Part II

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Welcome to the continuation of last week’s blog post, A Guide to Ableism: Travel Edition – Part I (ableism that is woven into the perception of and transportation for people with disabilities), found here.

LODGING

Not only can ableism make getting to one’s destination a challenge, but once the traveler arrives to the place they have planned to stay, ableism does not tend to go away, but sticks around like a pesky roommate.

Staff

For any traveler, it only takes one hotel worker to make or break a great stay; a staffer’s rudeness can put one’s stay in a funk. But on top of that, for a traveler with a disability, an ignorant staff member can compound that funk by making it difficult to acquire the adequate accessibility needs necessary to make this traveler’s stay comfortable.

It is frustrating to have to continuously educate people on every stay away from home. It would be wonderful if every lodging facility provided hospitality training that included how to adequately provide for travelers with disabilities.

Rooms

The type of room desired is generally a major decision factor in booking a reservation; how many people a room will accommodate to the features within a room (ie. kitchenette, jacuzzi tub, living room etc.), are considered when booking a place to stay. Even though all of these features are taken into consideration by travelers with disabilities, these features are secondary and often cast aside in order to acquire access which is the one necessary feature needed to a successful stay.

Amenities

A continental breakfast, pool, business center, or free wifi can all be persuasive factors in booking a place to stay. Nevertheless, these amenities are often inaccessible to travelers with disabilities.

Continental breakfast items can often be out of reach. To many tables make it difficult to easily maneuver throughout the breakfast area; tables that are too low or too high are also a cause of inaccessibility.

Even though hotels are now required to provide a pool and or hot tub lift to provide access to these amenities, this does not mean that every hotel with a pool or hot tub actually provides a lift. There is no room for assuming that one will be able to access to pool or the hot tub during their stay.

Business centers are usually crammed in a corner or a tiny closet-sized space. This eliminates access for many travelers with disabilities.

Free wifi can be an accessibility issue for all; it either is a breeze to use or can be a slow and agonizing pain. Granted not having adequate access to wifi is not a life or death issue. A traveler can almost always access wifi elsewhere, but if one slips and falls due to inadequate access in their room or elsewhere, a traveler’s vacation could be cut short by a hospital visit.

ATTRACTIONS

Attractions are typically the reason people go on vacation; most people travel to a specific place with the intent to do and see certain things.

Buildings

The topic of “buildings” encompasses a large variety of structures including but not limited to museums and aquariums, theaters, restaurants, and historical structures. For every type of building, there is a specific reason why people desire to experience the relevance of the attraction. At the same time, no matter what the building has to offer, barriers often limit the value of the potential experience.

Historical can often translate into not accessible. The majority of historical buildings were built prior to anyone taking people’s accessibility needs into account. Stairs have always been the common mode to elevate to the next floor level as they do not need electricity and take up less space than a ramp; stairs are cost effective. Tight quarters are also commonly found in older buildings as they are cost effective when it comes to heating. For the majority of the existence of architecture, wheelchairs and other mobility aids were not considered as they did not exist.

Beaches

Beaches are beloved by many; they are not just a beautiful and relaxing site, but provide a plethora of activities for a wide range of people. However, for people with physical disabilities, sand can be quite the nemesis to mobility aids and can easily trip people up. Beaches are not the most accessible destination. Nevertheless, there are more and more beaches that are providing access through innovative walkways and beach wheelchairs.

Conclusion

Whether ableism is obvious or subtle, purposeful or unintentional, it is woven tightly into the adventurous web of traveling; but ableism can be erased through the elimination of ignorance. Not only should people educate themselves on the pleasures and desires of the mainstream populace, but the needs of all travelers — including people with disabilities — as well. Not everyone can fully comprehend what a person with a disability endures when traveling, but anyone can educate themselves and advocate for accessible travel for all.