Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Trouble-Free Vacations

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Trouble-Free Vacations

Article excerpt

Since the spotlight this month is on travel, we have asked our Health Insurance Troubleshooter, Richard Epstein, to take a little side trip from his usual topic. Here, he writes about how to make your vacation as trouble-free as possible by preparing in advance with some helpful resources. He also provides some insightful hints on how to affect positive change in the travel industry. -- The Editors

In the best of all possible worlds, individuals with disabilities would be able to board a plane or a cruise ship, or make reservations at a hotel or a resort without the slightest worry -- knowing that all accommodations would be fully accessible. At some point in the future, perhaps that may become a reality. In the meantime, however, families that include children or adults with disabilities need to make careful plans and preparations -- well in advance of traveling or going on vacation.

Part of the difficulty in making such plans is that there are no clearcut, universally-accepted standards for defining accessibility. In many countries, there are no official standards of any kind. Even in the United States, where the Americans With Disabilities Act, and a variety of other state and federal laws, set specific, detailed rules for accessibility. Some hotels and restaurants seem to have their own interpretations of what accessibility means. On a number of occasions, for example, I have been unable to enter a hotel or restaurant in my power wheelchair, even though I was assured in advance that the accommodations were fully accessible. I am sure that many families that include an individual with a disability can report similar experiences.

Information please

Fortunately, there are a number of valuable sources of information that can help families avoid such difficulties. First, there are travel agencies that specialize in helping to plan vacations or business trips for people with disabilities. Such travel agencies often have a great deal of experience in helping to meet the needs of wheelchair-users and people with visual or hearing impairments. In addition, they are likely to have up-to-date information on which cruise ships, hotels, restaurants, etc., are fully accessible.

That knowledge and experience can make an enormous difference in planning a successful trip. The Directory of Travel Agencies for the Disabled. …

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