Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability — stories that can inspire your future travels, inform you of the latest in accessible innovation, and shine a light on the work still needed to create a truly accessible world.
ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL NEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Wheelchair user takes off in a hot air balloon at the “Labor Day Liftoff” in Colorado Springs — The annual hot air balloon festival in Colorado Springs welcomed a new balloon and flyer this year, when Ginger Gustafson became the first wheelchair user to take flight in an adapted basket at the event. Rides on the balloon are pricey, but it seems like a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
- Australian dive company welcomes disabled people to the Great Barrier Reef — Earlier in 2023, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors launched a program recognizing diver centers that adapt to the needs of disabled customers. Quicksilver Dive, located near the Great Barrier Reef in Port Douglas, Australia, is the first PADI Adaptive Service Facility in Queensland and one of only four such facilities in Australia. Through their adaptive programs, wheelchair users and others with disabilities can join accessible dive adventures to the world’s largest reef system. Who’s ready to dive into the deep blue sea?
- Accessibility improvements included as part of $500M Superdome Renovation — Last year, I attended a college football game in the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. It was a terrible experience. Accessibility was at best an afterthought, the bathrooms were disgusting and largely inaccessible, and the concourses were packed wall-to-wall with people. I vowed never to return to the Superdome again, but this substantial investment has me rethinking that position.
- White Sox join Cubs in hot water over alleged ADA violations — This website has previously covered the ADA lawsuit concerning limited ADA seating at Wrigley Field, but now the Chicago White Sox also find themselves in hot water as disabled fans have sued over the stadium’s alleged lack of equitable access. I can’t speak to the veracity of the claims, as the stadium is still on my list of MLB ballparks to visit.
- Beyonce covers travel costs for disabled fan who missed show due to airline snafu — Two weeks after he had flown Alaska Airlines to Seattle for another concert, wheelchair user Jon Hetherington was told that his wheelchair couldn’t fly — on the same flight, with the same airline, on the same aircraft type — to the Beyonce concert. The airline’s decision not to load his wheelchair on its side meant Jon would miss Beyonce’s performance, but the “BeyHive” sprung into action and the artist covered the expenses of getting him to a different show. Although wheelchair users should use my guide to airplane cargo door heights to pick flights that can best accommodate their power wheelchairs, it’s still frustrating that a major carrier like Alaska is unable to accommodate travelers like Jon Hetherington.
- High school baseball coach asks for ADA compliant bathrooms in Virginia Beach — A longtime high school baseball coach has sent a letter to school board and city government leaders, asking for ADA compliant bathrooms at the ballfields. The coach, a wheelchair user for many years, told local media that, with games at 4 p.m., “I actually stop eating or drinking at 10 a.m. just so I don’t have to worry about the rest of the day.”
- Penn State only has two wheelchair spaces in the student section — The Daily Collegian, and independent student newspaper, reports on the accessibility challenges wheelchair users and other students with disabilities face at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, home of the Nittany Lions football team.