I always enjoy giving presentations because I get the best comments and questions from my audiences. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I gave an accessible travel presentation at the Mercy MS Center in Sacramento. At the end of the presentation one lady told me that she had recently had her power strip confiscated while boarding a Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ship, and that “they had a whole table of them” that had been taken away from passengers. She needed the power strip to charge her scooter, and since this was a new development to me, I decided to look into it. Continue reading
Canada’s national rail provider – VIA Rail recently announced that it plans to add more wheelchair tie-downs to their rail cars in 2018. And although this is great news to disability advocates, this access upgrade didn’t come without a battle. A battle that began back in 2016, when Marie Murphy and Martin Anderson traveled from Windsor and Toronto to on VIA Rail.
Both Murphy and Anderson have cerebral palsy and use mobility scooters. Under VIA Rail’s policy at that time, since each rail car only had one tie-down, if there were two passengers with assistive devices, then one passenger had to transfer to a seat and have his assistive device stowed in the luggage car. That’s exactly what Anderson did, but because VIA employees did not disassemble it, it sustained damage. So the pair filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
They argued that the wheelchair tie-down area is the only risk-free place to transport scooters; and the lack of multiple tie-downs essentially prevents couples from traveling together. They also held that even though the Rail Code only requires one tie-down per car, this minimum standard may not always suffice, and that adding another tie-down would be a reasonable accommodation.
The CTA found in their favor, and ordered VIA Rail to provide multiple tie-downs. That was back in February 2017.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of things. VIA Rail protested the ruling, and held that the installation of additional tie-downs would pose an undue financial hardship on them.
The CTA ruled that additional tie-down areas are a reasonable and financially viable accommodation, especially since VIA Rail’s trains in Western Canada often have three-or four tie-downs.
Ultimately VIA Rail announced in December 2017 that it would comply with the CTA ruling and install multiple tie-downs in all of their rail cars. “Via Rail is committed to providing sustainable, reliable and accessible intercity travel for all Canadians,” company president Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said in a statement. “Thanks to our revised policy, more people with mobility restrictions will be able to travel together.”
This new policy went into effect on January 3, 2018.
Every now and then I run across a story that just really irks me. Such is the case with the New York Post story about the wealthy Manhattan moms that are using Dream Tours accessible guide services to cut to the front of the lines at Disney parks. And what irritates me the most, is that there’s seemingly nothing technically wrong with it. That said, it just shouldn’t be happening. Continue reading
Last week I discussed how sometimes some basic common sense can help things go a little smoother access-wise, as it pertains to privacy. As you recall, travel and tourism providers can’t ask you the details of your disability, but they can ask what accommodations you require. It’s really a fine line, one that often leads to some miscommunication because hospitality folks are afraid to ask too much, for fear they’ll break the law. So sometimes you have to volunteer a bit, just so they have a full understanding of your disability.
Then we have the other side of the coin. What do you do when they ask too much? Continue reading
As I was browsing through the Daily Mail today, one headline immediately caught my eye — “Disabled Terrified to Travel on Public Transport Because of Rising Abuse from Consumers.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading, and initially I thought that it must be some sort of proofing mistake. But as I read the full article, I discovered that sadly, that wasn’t the case. Continue reading