Summer is a time when many of us are thinking "VACATION!" There are millions of people with disabilities worldwide, also dreaming of great vacations. These individuals deserve the same opportunity as anyone else to enjoy a pleasant journey.
In the past five years, 12 percent of adults with disabilities in the United States have taken a cruise, compared to only 8 percent of the general population. And repeat business for cruises is particularly high, with 59 percent of disabled cruise passengers planning to take another cruise in the coming five years.
There are many special travel disabilities agents in the world who sets out procedures designed to ensure that these people have everything arranged for a pleasant trip. There are many things to consider when planning a vacation for the people with special needs: destination, transportation, hotel or other overnight arrangements, activities, adaptations, and general accessibility, to name a few.
Travel by the disabled is at an all-time high, and that's good news for resorts, cruise companies, and related businesses. A growing number of disabled entrepreneurs are opening their own tour and travel agencies, bringing special expertise and services to this expanding group on the go.
This newfound attention from travel-related businesses is opening up a world of activities and destinations never imagined by many who live with a disability. Adventure travel for the disabled is on the rise and the new disabilities agents are attempting to meet growing demand. Whether it's an African safari, kayaking in Vancouver, scuba diving in Australia, skiing in Vermont, or deep-sea fishing in Mexico, disabilities agents are making these adventure trips accessible to people with all sorts of disabilities.
Although disabled travellers are venturing further into uncharted territory, they are not throwing all caution to the wind. Looking for reassurance that these travel adventures can accommodate their particular access requirements, many people are relying on other disabled travellers to guide them in their journeys. As a result, a virtual cottage industry of disabled-owned travel agencies and disabilities agents has come into being over the past several years. Using their personal experiences, these deaf, blind, and mobility-impaired entrepreneurs now plan trips for travellers with similar disabilities.
Steve Osgood, owner of Accessible Cruise Planners, says that "being able to relate to clients about access issues and having done personal site inspections, I know just what the conditions are and can make recommendations confidently. My experience as a wheelchair user gives me an advantage over able-bodied travel agents."
Companies such as Accessible Cruise Planners, NeverLand Adventures, Beasley Travel, Flying Wheels, and Outta Sight Travel-all founded by disabled business people-have made it their mission to enhance the lives of other disabled people.
Jackie Hull of Outta Sight Travel says, "Our personal travels and research help us assist blind clients in choosing destinations that go beyond sightseeing. We call it a multisensory travel experience. Blind people can do anything that sighted people can do but see, so why not give them the opportunity to explore the world in a manner that they can enjoy?"
List of Disabled-Run Travel Companies:
Accessible Cruise Planners - specializes in accessible cruising.
Beasley Travel - specializes in travel for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Butlee's Handicap Outdoor Adventures - is a disabled-owned tour planner specializing in accessible sailing, rappelling, camping, canoeing, and other outdoor activities.
Connie George Travel Associates - specializes in resort packages and tour and cruise vacation planning for wheelchair users, slow walkers, deaf, and developmentally disabled travelers. Several of the travel agents have disabilities.
Flying Wheels Travel - is a travel agency for disabled travelers.
Freedom's Wings International - is a nonprofit organization run by and for people with physical disabilities. It provides the opportunity for those who are physically challenged to fly in specially adapted sailplanes.
NeverLand Adventures - runs accessible tours and individual itineraries throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Outta Sight Travel - arranges tours and individual itineraries for blind and visually impaired travelers.
Adventure Travel Companies:
DIVErsion - provides paraplegics, amputees, and visually impaired visitors with the chance to scuba dive Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Jig Stop Tours - features the 53-foot Right Reasons sportfishing boat. (Adapted reels, chair lift, and wide doors make this the only disabled-accessible charter boat in Cabo San Lucas Mexico.)
Mount Snow - brings downhill skiing in the Vermont mountains to people with all variety of disabilities.
Go With Wheelchairs - provides wheelchair travelers a safe, reliable, and enjoyable means of seeing and experiencing the rain forests, beaches, and cities of Costa Rica.
Wilderness Inquiry Outdoor Adventures - runs accessible canoe, kayak, raft, hiking, and dogsled adventures in North America.