Are We Really the Leader?


Last week a journalist friend was bouncing some ideas off me for a column he was doing on accessible travel. He tends to ask thought provoking questions, but this time he really gave me pause for thought with one of his queries. His premise was that we (the US) are “the leader” in accessibility, and he wanted to know what we as a nation have done to influence access improvements in other countries.

Quite frankly, I think I caught him off guard with my answer. “Do you really think we’re the leader? Because I don’t,” I replied.

Think about it.

Sure, we have the ADA and other access laws and regulations on the books, but most developed nations have some sort of civil rights legislation too. And yes, we certainly have a lot of innovative inventions and adaptive equipment to make life more accessible; but again, so do many other developed countries. And yes, we have universal design, but we’re certainly not alone in that respect either.

Now I’m not saying we haven’t made some access strides, but I just don’t see us at the tippy-top of the heap.


Well, take the London Black Cabs for example. How can you match their access and availability? Although we do have limited numbers of accessible taxis in many cities, it’s nothing compared to the scope of the London Black Cabs.

And look at Costa Rica — they even have a political party that focuses on inclusion. Here in the states we lobby our elected officials for access improvements, while down in Costa Rica they’re approaching it from another angle — from the inside. It’s an interesting approach.

In the end, I don’t think it really matters who the leader is, or even if there is a leader. They key is to work globally and share our innovations, successes and even our failures. That’s the only way to make this world truly accessible for future generations.

Food for thought. I don’t really think there is a right answer. Who do you think the leader is, if indeed there is one?



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