Oregon State Parks Seek to Improve Access

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10678499_10204717928898825_8786844006418640572_nIn an effort to make Oregon state parks more accessible, the Oregon State Parks Foundation (OSPF) recently invited 10 people with a spinal cord injry on a camping trip. But it wasn’t your ordinary camping trip — it was more of a research project. The goal was to identify the barriers that people with disabilities face in the state parks, and to ultimately remove those barriers.

What a great idea!

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Despite the Fire, Glacier National Park is Still Open for Business!!

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No crowds in Apgar Village!

No crowds in Apgar Village!

As you may have heard, there’s a large fire burning along the north shore of Lake Mc Donald that has led to the closure of some areas of Glacier National Park. That said the park is still open for business. The smoke is variable, and to be honest it depends on the wind direction. That said even though facilities are pretty limited on the west side, it’s still possible to stay there and explore the open areas of the park.  Continue reading

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The Last Straw

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1200px-Eight_drinking_straws_(4273846588)With so many regulations popping up across the country limiting or outright banning the use of plastic straws, I’m getting a lot of questions from folks about why this is even an issue to some disabled people. And to be honest, some of the questions are well meaning, but many folks just don’t get the point – or points – that banning the use of plastic straws in restaurants puts yet another undue burden on our disabled citizens. Maybe some people just never thought about it before, or maybe they don’t understand the technicalities behind it all. Whatever the reason, here are some of the questions I’ve fielded in the past month, along with the answers I’ve given. Feel free to pass them along. Continue reading

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Size Does Matter

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airplane_landing_199029In this day and age of improved airline access regulations, flying has become rather commonplace for many wheelchair-users. And that’s a very good thing. Sure there are still hiccups, but flying is a far cry from what it was in the pre-ACAA days — when airlines could refuse wheelchair-users passage for any capricious reason, and those lucky souls that were permitted to board were required to sit on blankets for fear they would soil the seats. Continue reading

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UK Considering New Accessible Air Travel Regs

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airplane_landing_199029On the heels of Frank Gardner’s nearly two-hour wait to be reunited with his wheelchair at Heathrow International Airport, the British government is considering strengthening their almost non-existent accessible air travel regulations. In the US, disabled passengers are entitled to “prompt” deplaning, which according to the Department of Transportation means  “as soon as the rest of the passenger are deplaned”. Unfortunately that’s not the way things work in the UK. Continue reading

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VIA Rail to Upgrade Access in 2018

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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 to Toronto on VIA Rail. Continue reading

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Air India Boots Power Wheelchair-User

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airplane_landing_199029Although travelers in the US are used to the protections that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) affords them in this country (and on flights to and from the US), that’s not how it works on foreign soil. In fact, I routinely get reports of wheelchair-users who were unceremoniously denied boarding at airports throughout Asia. Such is the case of Kaushik Majumdar, who recently tried to board an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata.

Notice, I said “tried”.

According to reports of the incident Majumdar was told at check-in that he would have to remove the dry-cell battery from his power wheelchair and transfer to a manual wheelchair at the gate. After he did this, he was also informed that he would have to disconnect all of the wires that ran to the battery case. Being leery about his ability to properly reconnect the wires, and concerned about possible damage to his wheelchair, he refused. And then Air India refused to accept him as a passenger.

Should this have happened? Well no it shouldn’t have, but it did. And although in the US, the ACAA prohibits the removal of non-spillable batteries that are appropriately marked and installed, that’s not the way it works with Air India.

So this is just a little heads up if you happen to have India on your bucket list. Tread lightly with Air India, as they don’t appear to be “power-wheelchair friendly”. And no matter where you travel, check with the airline to see what their policies are regarding the stowage of assistive devices before you buy your ticket. A little advance research could possible save you a whole lot of heartache – not to mention a ruined trip. In this case, forewarned is definitely forearmed!

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All Airline Access is NOT Equal

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cockpit_plane_airplane_213770I get a lot of feedback on airlines – some of it good, and some of it not so good. For the most part my advice to folks is to learn the law – in this case the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) – and then complain to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) if things don’t go according to the regs. And that works fine if you are flying on a US carrier, or to or from the US on a foreign carrier. That’s as far as the jurisdiction of the ACAA extends. Period. Continue reading

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