Resources for Disabled Travelers

Linked with Susan Sygall – USA, with Access for All: USAID’s Commitment to Accessible Programs, and with Mobility International USA, MIUSA;

Published on Rick Steves.com/Europe, by Susan Sygall and staff of Mobility International USA, article not dated.

More and more people with disabilities are heading to Europe, and more of us are looking for the Back Door routes. We, like so many of our non-disabled peers, want to get off the tourist track and experience the real France, Italy, or Portugal. Yes, that includes those of us who use wheelchairs. I’ve been traveling the “Rick Steves way” since about 1973 — and here are some of my best tips: …

… Know your rights as a traveler with a disability. If, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you feel you have been discriminated against (such as not being allowed on a US tour company’s tour of Europe), call the US Department of Justice ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301. The US Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division ACPD handles complaints regarding the Air Carrier Access Act, and has a toll-free Disability Hotline (tel. 800-778-4838).

Keep in mind that accessibility can mean different things in different countries. In some countries, people rely more on human-support systems than on physical or technological solutions. People may tell you their building is accessible because they’re willing to lift you and your wheelchair over the steps at the entryway. Be open to trying new ways of doing things, but also ask questions to make sure you are comfortable with the access provided.

If you are interested in short-term work, study, research, or volunteering abroad, contact the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange at Mobility International USA for free information and referrals (see listing below). Get online and do some investigating. Search for “travel” and “disability.”

Hopefully more books will include accessibility information — which will allow everyone to see Europe through the Back Door. Let’s work toward making that door accessible so we can all be there together.

Additional Resources: … (full text).

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