It’s summertime and that means it’s time to do some traveling. If you have mobility challenges, traveling can present challenges that others don’t have to deal with.
Although ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that all businesses with public accommodations offer facilities that will be accessible by all people without regard to their physical, cognitive, or sensory limitations, the reality is that vacationing with someone who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device or has other limitations can be challenging. With proper research and advance planning; however, you should be able to have a memorable and relaxing vacation.
There are a number of vacation destinations that offer accessibility to all. There’s even a theme park in San Antonio, Texas — Morgan’s Wonderland — that was designed and built specifically to be a place where children with all levels of ability can play and interact with each other.
Closer to home, the Addy Grace playground, located at the Daleville YMCA, is an all-abilities playground for all children to be able to enjoy. Maybe playgrounds and theme parks are not what you have in mind. Maybe you were thinking of a few relaxing days away from the routines of your life.
Many vacation destinations and resorts are wheelchair accessible. Acadia, Carlsbad Caverns, Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, Great Smokey Mountains, Shenandoah, and Yellowstone are noted as the most wheelchair-accessible National Parks. Newmar makes a line of Class A RVs that are wheelchair accessible complete with built-in platform lifts. There is even a Swiss company that makes a one-wheel rough terrain wheelchair that can traverse practically any hiking trail. It is operated by two people. The one in the front provides direction while the one in the back provides balance and braking. There certainly are a lot of opportunities for recreation these days for people with various impairments that did not exist just a few years ago.
If you would like to take advantage of one of these opportunities, I hope that you have the time of your life! I would encourage you to plan ahead and do your research ahead of time. Just as I recommend planning when configuring your home to serve you throughout the course of your life, I encourage you to take the time to properly plan your accessible vacation.
Just because an attraction is listed as wheelchair accessible, I would not take their word for it. I have seen many locations listed as wheelchair accessible that are far from it. I would pick up the phone and call them to verify the details.
At a minimum, I would recommend that they have at least one, and preferably two zero-step entries at least 32” wide that are protected from the weather and have automatic lighting. There should be an accessible bedroom on the same level as the zero-step entries that has a door that provides at 32” of net clear opening.
There should be an accessible bathroom on that level as well. The bathroom also must have a 32” wide net clear opening, a curbless shower, a roll-under sink, a comfort height commode, and grab bars throughout. Every room should have a 5’ diameter clear floor space for turning and all outlets, switches, and environmental controls between 2’ and 4’ off the floor. A bonus (and essential for people who love to cook) is an accessible kitchen. Have a great trip!
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Chris Moore is the owner of Solid Rock Enterprises and writes a regular Housing Matters column for Senior News.