Families around the world are looking for ways to organize a wheelchair-accessible vacation and create memories with their children. Despite things like the Americans with disabilities act, lots of places for kids are still not entirely accessible which makes wheelchair travel difficult for these families.
At Gowhee App we thrive to help ALL parents find places for kids globally. This is why you can find a Wheelchair Accessible filter for all locations.
Mapping out what families with a wheelchair user can and cannot do makes a huge difference in their planning. An app like GoWhee that has parents around the world contributing information is essential for accessible travel.
Where this gets tricky is when a family without a wheelchair isn’t sure what “wheelchair accessible” means. It’s easy to see a ramp and think, “Oh! I can mark this place as accessible!” or to see a flight of stairs to enter and assume the building is inaccessible. But this is not always an accurate representation of the wheelchair user’s experience.
We asked an expert in accessible family travel, Jennifer from Wonders Within Reach, to share these easy ways to determine what Every Wheelchair Friendly Vacation Spots Should Have:
In a lot of travel destinations, stairs are considered a part of the architecture or are culturally required as separation from street dirt.
It’s easy to write places like this off when you see them, but don’t be too quick to assume!
The world is slowly becoming more and more accessible. A lot of these places have added:
(If they don’t, feel free to recommend one. It would help families like mine to be able to visit. Plus, they’re pretty cheap on Amazon.)
Unfortunately, there’s rarely appropriate signage to indicate the entrance. Here is what you can do:
Don’t overthink this one. No one carries a tape measure to make sure the entrance is 32”!
If it doesn’t look like a historically unique narrow entry, it’s probably fine. If it’s a revolving door, ask someone if there’s an alternate entrance!
Checking doors might not be just about the front entry. Take a quick look at where your kids gravitate to, so you can give the proper feedback.
For instance: If most of the museum exhibits require steps or entering a narrow hallway, you could not it in the review.
A full flight of steps to part of the main attraction is an accessibility killer. There’s no way around this one unless they have some sort of a lift. Again, if you don’t see it – ask.
Check for elevators! They often added on later and maybe stashed away in a maintenance closet (that’s not an exaggeration).
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Pretty simple to find out. If a location is otherwise accessible but doesn’t have an accessible restroom, I would put a note in your review.
Getting in is only the first part of the battle. Once you’re in, is it possible to get around and do what you came to do?
Check for these simple things:
Remember: Just because the visitor’s center at a national park is accessible, it doesn’t mean they have accessible trails or amenities.
Although many hotels and resorts (big chains) and places like campsites have done the work to be accessible. Many smaller establishments and private vacation rentals will not have the official mention. That said some of these places could be an amazing option for families with wheelchair users.
Here are things you can look for while onsite:
Thinking of playgrounds being accessible just because they are outside or in a fairly flat park, is a common misconception.
Do not put yes in the “wheelchair accessible” filter if you see any of these things on a playground:
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Hotels, restaurants, playgrounds, trails, theme parks, children’s museums, and more…
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Of course, most of us have seen the blue street sign indicating a designated parking spot for people with disabilities.
But some attractions have no dedicated parking spaces and no place to park in front of the building. This should be noted with the “Parking” filter. If a family with a wheelchair user has to park 10 min down a cobbled street to get to the attraction they will need to know.
Also, remember to look for any other public transportation involved. Some places for kids put buses, trains, and boats in place to transport visitors from the check-in area to the attraction. Make sure that transportation also has the feature mentioned above before granting the “wheelchair accessible” checkmark.
Another misconception is thinking that just because you can roll your stroller, the place is accessible.
A wheelchair is not an all-terrain stroller!
And accessibility is about more than wheels. For children operating a wheelchair, mulch and other uneven surfaces can be tough.
If you’re on a trail, farm, playground, or something of that sort, consider this memo technique:
“Could I do it with a grocery cart?”
Would you be able to navigate the terrain?
To find wheelchair-accessible places for kids or share one on the app, select the filter:” wheelchair accessible”.
If you’re looking for more on what a wheelchair-accessible family adventure looks like, check out Wonders Within Reach!
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