Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including an incredible tale of a community coming together to help a power wheelchair user evacuate after her home was flooded by a hurricane storm surge. There’s some positive news too, including improved access at a UNESCO World Heritage Site and improved airport security screening measures for people with communication difficulty.
Accessible Travel News from Around the Web
- Wheelchair User Escapes Flooded Home by Floating on a Surfboard — 10 years ago, Mary Ellen Olsen and her husband were impacted by the terrible effects of Hurricane Sandy — after an electrical fire engulfed the couple’s home in flames, Mary found herself in a precarious situation: her power wheelchair couldn’t navigate the streets, which were covered by more than 6 feet of water from the storm surge. With the help of neighbors, she made it out alive — read the amazing story in this story from the New York Post.
- Wheelchair User’s Van Blocked by Illegally Parked Car at Atlanta Airport — After arriving on a flight to Atlanta, Yvette Pegues went to collect her car from the airport parking lot, only to find it blocked by an illegally parked car. She couldn’t access her van’s ramp, so she called for help. The police and airport parking authority did nothing, and Yvette was forced to have a family member pick her up in a non-accessible van, which meant she had to leave her mobility device behind.
- Accessible Fishing Business Hits Alaska’s “Shark Tank” — Capt. Jack Finnegan has offered fishing trips in Ketchikan, Alaska for many years, but realized that his boats weren’t accessible to many disabled people. Inspired by his previous work in the disability community, Finnegan founded “Fishability Alaska” to provide greater access to wheelchair users and others with disabilities. He recently presented the idea at the Alaska Travel Industry Association’s version of “Shark Tank.”
- Meet the Woman Who Has Manufactured & Donated Thousands of Wheelchairs to Disabled People in Pakistan — Disabled people in developing countries don’t have access to the same level of support as those of us in the west — with a wheelchair being a “luxury” rarely provided by governments. Zahadi Qureshi, who contracted polio is a child in Pakistan, spent her childhood crawling from place to place because she did not have a wheelchair. Today, she’s become a heroine, founding a non-profit that manufactures and distributes wheelchairs to disabled people throughout Pakistan.
- ADA Settlement: Philadelphia to Fix 10,000+ Curb Ramps — Sidewalks are about to become much more accessible in the City of Philadelphia. Following a class action lawsuit brought by a number of disabled people, the city has agreed to build, install and/or remediate 10,000 curb ramps over the next 15 years. Tony Brooks, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that “Activists and advocates fighting for disability rights in Philadelphia, like myself, now have a victory here in our city that we’ve wanted for a long time.”
- Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre to See New Accessibility Improvements — Denver’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre will gain an increase in wheelchair accessible seating locations before the start of the next concert season, according to a report in the Colorado Sun. Additional accessibility improvements are also planned, including repaved ramps and a shelter at the shuttle bus stop.
- Qatar Airways told para-athlete he couldn’t fly alone — I’ve flown Qatar Airways as a disabled wheelchair user who cannot walk many times and my right to fly unaccompanied has never been challenged. That wasn’t the case for Malaysian para-athlete Daniel Lee, who said he felt “humiliated” when the airline’s staff initially told him that he couldn’t fly alone on his flight from Cairo, Egypt.
And finally, a video report about the DOJ’s recent agreement with NJ Transit to improve accessibility at 5 train stations in New Jersey: