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Cruise Line Reaches Settlement With Justice Department Ensuring Accessibility: Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise company, reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over complaints that many of its ships do not offer access to passengers with disabilities.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Big Apple Greeter: Tourists with disabilities visiting New York City are welcome to request a volunteer guide from Big Apple Greeter, as are all other tourists. A volunteer will be made available to you for three or four hours to escort you to any points of interest you choose. 

 

MSNBC Article: Paving the way for travelers with disabilities: Planning and preparation can mean the difference between success and hassle. The travel industry is waking up to disabled travelers' special needs by providing more services and greater accommodation. Meanwhile, the sheer abundance of information on accessible travel is astounding — much of it generated by disabled travelers themselves.

Travel and People with Disabilities:

Introduction:

Currently, there are approximately 54 Million People in the United States that have some type of disability. For those of you who operate businesses in the travel industry, that represents about one-fifth of your current and potential customer base! Some people assume that if someone has a disability, they aren’t likely to travel or get out into their communities. That couldn’t be farther from the truth!! According to a poll conducted by the Open Doors Organization and Harris Interactive (July 2005) between the years 2003 and 2005:

  • 52% of adults with disabilities stayed in hotels while traveling!
  • Over 50% visit fast food restaurants at least once per week!
  • 2 out of 5 people with disabilities eat at casual dining places once a week!
  • Nearly 25% of people with disabilities dine out formally at least once a week!
  • 52% of adults with disabilities stayed in hotels while traveling!
  • Over 50% visit fast food restaurants at least once per week!
  • 2 out of 5 people with disabilities eat at casual dining places once a week!
  • Nearly 25% of people with disabilities dine out formally at least once a week!


This same poll indicated that three out of five hotel users have faced significant obstacles while staying at hotels, including:

  • Doors that are hard to open
  • Inaccessible bathroom facilities
  • Hotel staff who are not aware of services for people with disabilities
  • Difficulty communicating with staff at the hotel
  • Lack of alternative communication devices to facilitate communication.


Many people with disabilities faced similar issues when eating out at restaurants.

 

People with Disabilities as Consumers

We recognize that it is imperative for business to pay attention to the bottom line.

  • Who are our customers?
  • Do they have money?
  • How do we get them into our establishment when there are so many options?

Let's take a look at these questions as they relate to people with disabilities. We know from the numbers cited above that a large majority of people with disabilities are using hospitality facilities on a regular basis. We know that the number of leisure trips and hotel stays by people with disabilities has increased by 50% since 2002 and we know that 71% of people with disabilities eat in restaurants at least once per week spending $35 Billion annually. We also know that people with disabilities have $220 Billion in discretionary spending power, that's four times that of your average tween! So, how do you get people with disabilities to become your loyal customers? You must provide high quality, accessible services. If you don't, your competitors will!

The good news is being welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities is likely not as costly or difficult as you may think. This website will provide some insight.

What the law says

Hotels and restaurants are covered under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations. This means that places of public accommodation may not discriminate against, nor deny full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, and facilities to an individual with a disability. You must be willing to reasonably modify the policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination unless the modification would fundamentally alter the nature of what you do. Plainly stated, people with disabilities must have the same opportunity to access your facilities as the rest of your customer base. You can't use admittance criteria that screens out people with disabilities. You can't unnecessarily inquire into the existence of a disability and you can't charge people with disabilities extra for providing access to your services or for modifying your services so that access can be achieved.

What does accessibility mean?

Accessibility for Travelers with Vision Impairments

What it is-

Significant physical and topographical features with adjacent very light and very dark surfaces; visual signage information presented in Braille and large size in sans serif font in high visual contrast (e.g., very light characters on very dark background) located at approachable heights and locations; information presented in audible and tactile versions

Where it is-

At each gate in airports; in motel and hotel lobbies and guest rooms; elevator cabins; corridors; public restrooms; at bus stops; in train depots; at street corners

How it is-

Examples include- a visually high contrast thin but tactually detectible floor mat leading from the entry through a lobby to a check-in desk; elevator cabin's second control panel (one is mounted low for use by persons with limited reach) mounted high enough for close looking and comfortable Braille use; an approachable large print and Brailled sign identifying numbers of routes serving a bus stop; guest room thermostat giving tactile and audible information about its settings; high visual contrast adjacent to sinks and urinals in a public restroom; guest room number adjacent to opening side of door in large raised letters and accompanied by Braille; train platform edge with visually prominent truncated dome strip; Track numbers at approachable location at arrival point onto each platform in rail terminal; high visual contrast on stairway step noses; detectible warning strips wherever there is no full height curb between pedestrian areas and motor vehicle lanes; pedestrian WALK signals offering audio and tactile information (by devices known as "Accessible Pedestrian Signals" or simply "APS"); support column within a concourse, or at least its base, appearing in visual contrast to the walking surface beneath it; selection buttons on a snack vending machine with distinctively individual tactile markings; restaurant menus available in Braille and large print; major stops announced on board a public transit vehicle

RECCOMENDATIONS-

"If you will be flying and will need assistance navigating through airports due to a vision impairment, be sure to notify your air carrier in advance. This can be done when making a reservation. Specify your need, such as, "a sighted escort". You are not obligated to be pushed in a wheelchair unless you prefer that level of help. It is appropriate to state, "I do not need a wheelchair".

"Access Anything: I Can Do That, Adventuring with Disabilities" by Kennedy and Kennedy- A guide to sports and travel for people with disabilities [this book is available in accessible format from the Library for the Blind]

  • Mobility
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Etc

MORE INFORMATION: