According to the United Nations, it is estimated that there are over 1 billion people with disabilities around the world. When you include family members and caregivers, more than 2 billion people are part of the disability community. This community is vastly underserved by the travel and tourism industries due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services and discriminatory policies and practices. Accessible tourism helps people with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers participate in and enjoy travel and tourism experiences. Accessible travel and tourism are an ongoing process to ensure that travel destinations, products, and services are accessible to everyone, regardless of a person’s physical limitations, disability, or age. Yet, the impact of accessible travel and tourism goes beyond the benefits to travelers with disabilities: it reaches the wider community by engraining accessibility into the social and economic values of society.
As the COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease within the US, many people with and without disabilities have begun to travel. For example, NARIC staff have begun traveling for vacation within the US, using precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and researching the resources, information, tips, and tricks they may need for accessible travel. They looked at resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere in the community, including:
- The ADA National Network provides factsheets on accessible lodging, food service, ticketing, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessible ground transportation, accessible parking, effective communication, and more. Contact your Regional ADA Center to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the ADA and how the ADA applies to accessible travel within the US.
- Are you a person with a psychiatric disability, family member, or service provider looking for resources on travel and leisure? The Temple University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental Illness (TU Collaborative) has created resources that include guides, toolkits and calendars that help people with psychiatric disabilities plan their leisure time independently and with their families. The resources include a guide for family leisure planning and COVID-19. Are you a community looking to create welcoming parks and recreation environments for community members and visitors alike? The TU Collaborative has created several resources, including a training guide and calendar, to help communities, people/travelers with severe mental illness, and those who support them create and find welcoming environments that include parks and recreation.
- Did you know that NARIC’s collection includes multimedia items such as videos, podcasts, and presentations? This multimedia collection includes items on accessible travel:
- The video, Travel after spinal cord injury: Finding your comfort zone, features three people with spinal cord injuries who talk about their experiences traveling after their injuries and share tips for making travel successful.
- Planning on visiting Seattle, Washington? The video, Community Mobility: Getting Where You Want to Go, provides information about different accessible transportation options available for people with disabilities in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, including buses, light rail access, and more.
Resources from Elsewhere in the Community
- Are you a person with a disability considering traveling now that restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are easing? The article, Return to Accessible Travel, from New Mobility Magazine speaks with several travelers with disabilities about their concerns with travel during COVID and provides things to consider before planning a trip. Their blogpost, Wheelchair Travel During COVID-19, discusses how traveling during the pandemic changed for one wheelchair user.
- Several government agencies have published information for travelers with disabilities, their families, and caregivers:
- The US Department of Transportation has a webpage on traveling with a disability that includes information on the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and how it protects travelers with disabilities from discrimination from the airlines, training materials on disability topics, and links to other helpful travel information.
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has information on what to people with disabilities can expect at security checkpoints in airports. You can check different related topics by scrolling the menu on their page, including information on medications, service animals, different disabilities, medical equipment, and mobility aids.
- Are you concerned about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic? Although not specific to people with disabilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created a travel toolkit to help you determine if you should travel. The toolkit includes information on domestic and international travel, recommendations by destination that include an interactive map, when not to travel, and more. The toolkit also includes a travel planner for travel within the US.
Contact NARIC’s information specialists to learn more about other available resources for accessible travel and tourism.