With the summer months fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to plan vacation trips again. But for people with disabilities, this is not an easy task. We are often faced with many challenges, as soon as we arrive at the airport. Four in 10 travelers with disabilities have had their mobility aid lost or damaged by an airline, while six in 10 have experienced extended wait times for a mobility aid at the airport before and after a flight.
In fact, during the first quarter of 2021, airlines reported 712 mishandled wheelchairs or scooters, which is nearly eight per day. Spirit Airlines had the highest percentage of incidents, damaging 2.88% of the wheelchairs and scooters on board, followed by JetBlue (2.27%), American Airlines (1.57%) and Frontier Airlines (1.55 %). Airlines were not legally required to report damage to mobility equipment until December 2018, when Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who uses a wheelchair herself, added a provision to the FAA Reauthorization Act. Yet many travelers continue to do the repairs on their own because it allows them to regain their independence more quickly.
The results of the recent survey, Profile of Travelers with Disabilities: Mobility and Accessibility, revealed that 96% of travelers with reduced mobility encountered an accommodation problem while traveling, while 86% encountered problems while traveling. airport and 79% encountered difficulties in the market. transport problems, whether by plane, train or bus.
Yet people with disabilities must travel, whether for personal reasons, professional reasons or both. Travelers with mobility issues travel almost as much as those without issues, taking an average of 3.4 trips in the last 12 months and spending an average of $3,546 on pleasure trips during this period . Additionally, a 2020 study revealed that the disability travel market is growing. In 2018-2019, more than 27 million travelers with disabilities took 81 million trips and spent $58.7 billion on trips (up from $34.6 billion in 2015). The economic impact is probably even greater, since people with disabilities often travel with other people.
As the disability travel market continues to grow, more and more companies are offering people with disabilities the opportunity to travel like their able-bodied friends, family, and co-workers. For example, Travel for All specializing in various disabilities, Easy Access Travel accommodates most types of physical disabilities, Seable Holidays specializes in travel for visually impaired travellers, capable planet organizes personalized tours for people with different types of disabilities, Wheel the World helps adults and seniors with reduced mobility and wheelchairs, and Tapooz Travel specialize in outdoor excursions for the disabled. These companies assess the individual needs of each client. For example, Debra Kerper of Easy Access Travel expresses that she has become good at interviewing customers to find out what they might need, but also at raising the fear of travel, especially if one is newly disabled. Thus, each case is individualized.
Once you have found a travel agency of your choice, how do you proceed? Here are some helpful tips: 1. Do your research and ask lots of questions; 2. Consult your doctor before you go and organize your medications; 3. Plan your transportation months in advance; 4. Arrive early to get the best hotel room for your needs. 5. Get travel insurance and plan airport strategies. You can also join various travel forums to receive accessible travel advice and chat with other travelers with disabilities.
For women with disabilities, it is also imperative to focus on our own safety. A World Bank study has shown that a number of security tips can be found here. Additional tips: don’t bring valuables, only take what you need (lock the rest in a safe, your own portable safe or your hotel), have a backup bank card, don’t don’t leave your drink unattended, check in regularly with a designated person, prepare important paperwork and carry extra cash in case of an emergency.
By doing all of the above, you as a woman are less likely to become a victim and be free to travel as freely as anyone else, regardless of gender.
About the Author: Dawn Grabowski is a member of the Loreen Arbus Accessibility is Fundamental program, a fellowship created with Women’s eNews to train women with disabilities as professional journalists so they can write, research and report on the most critical issues impacting the community. people with disabilities. Dawn is also an actress, filmmaker, content creator, speaker, voice-over artist, producer, and stand-up comedian because she’s not qualified to stand. born with Central – Nerve Disorder Cerebral Palsy, the industry and the world label her as a person/performer with a disability (PWD), but she thinks the labels are for the pots and not for the people. IG handle: @grabowskidawn