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Travelling While Disabled: A Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users – Tools You Can Use

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Fall is one day away, which means that this is the perfect time of year for disabled people to travel and see the beautiful fall scenery that will unfold over the next three months.  What many disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, may not realize is that there are many places across the nation that are accessible for them to visit and explore.  I wanted to highlight a travel guide compilation for wheelchair users, created by Wheel:Life, for the “Tools You Can Use” series.  

Travelling Across the U.S. as a Wheelchair User:  Why This Travel Guide is Needed

I have written about travelling and accessibility on the blog before, and why it is a priority for disabled people who do not wish to be held back from seeing the world they live in.  In turning 30 years old, one of the top three things I aim to do more of in this new decade of life is travel, and this guide was one that I immediately saved when I received the Wheel:Life newsletter about it earlier this year.  

Worries about accessibility is a real concern for many of us with physical disabilities, especially those who use assistive devices like wheelchairs, scooters, canes, walkers, etc.  Though the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has been enacted for 25 years, there are still many public locations not compliant with the mandate, resulting in disabled people being excluded from gaining access to these venues.  The feelings of anger, frustration, and embarrassment when we realize a location is not adapted for us is all too real for physically disabled people who utilize assistive devices.  A guide like this one helps to alleviate the stress of traveling while disabled, which will allow us to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the places we visit.  

What is Inside the Travel Guide

The travel guide provides information for all 50 states, spotlighting locations, resources, and adaptive sport activities that may pique the interest of wheelchair users like myself.  Each listing provides a brief description, and contact information (website link, phone number, email address, social media page(s), etc.).  

Though Wheel:Life sells the guide for $1.99, it offers an PDF version of the guide for free to those with disabilities who complete a request form.  The request form is easy to fill out, and you gain prompt access to download the guide onto your computer.  

The first thing I did when I downloaded the guide was read the resources listed for South Carolina.  These two were the ones that got my immediate attention:  

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is an accessible beach destination.  They offer free beach wheelchairs, free parking, and dozens of accessible beach entries.

Website:  http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/handicapped.html
Phone:  843-918-1382
Email:  info@cityofmyrtlebeach.com

National Park Service
“Congaree National Park offers all visitors the opportunity to recreate and enjoy the solitude of wilderness.  No roads travel through the park, and all activities require a certain amount of walking.  While the majority of the park is unimproved, the area around the Harry Hampton Visitor Center is accessible to all visitors so that they are able to experience one of the last great old-growth forests in the country.”

Website:  http://www.nps.gov/cong/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm
Phone:  803-776-4396
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice

(Excerpted from Discovering:  Accessible US Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users.)

The Myrtle Beach listing, especially, appealed to me since I will be going on a mini getaway this weekend to continue celebrating my 30th birthday.  Knowing that the beach is indeed accessible, and has beach wheelchairs and accessible piers and entries for me to use and move about comfortably, are disabled travelling pluses.  Realizing that I will not be hindered from soaking in all that Myrtle Beach has to offer because I use a wheelchair makes me feel included before I even arrive there.  There are many more outdoor and sports adventures listed in this guide for each state, which means that these places can be added on my, and many others’, disabled travelling bucket lists.  

Final Thoughts

This season, take some time to enjoy nature and sporting activities that you have been wanting to do.  This guide is one of many that sheds light on what is available for us to partake in and not feel as if we do not fit into our society because accommodations are not as widespread as they should be.  It can be challenging to research such accessible places on one’s own; it is helpful to have a guidebook that has done all the work for you.  Now all we have to do is pick a place, pack a bag, choose a mode of transportation, and explore.  I plan to use this guide for many years to come, and I hope that this proves to be a valuable tool to many of you, as well.  

If you know of any other compiled lists and guides like this one, contact me at my email address, Vilissa@rampyourvoice.com, with details so that I may share these resources in future “Tools You Can Use” series posts.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of StockSnap.io.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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