Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including a look inside a wheelchair accessible house designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the first driverless Paratransit vehicle in America, the grand opening of the new U.S. Paralympic Museum, a new Inclusive Garden at the Toledo Botanical Garden and more.

Accessible Travel News from Around the Web

  • Frank Lloyd Wright Designed Accessible Home 40 Years Before ADA — The celebrated architect known for incredible designs like Fallingwater, Unity Temple, Robin House and Taliesin designed a wheelchair accessible home nearly 40 years before the ADA became law. The “Laurent House” was designed for Ken Laurent, a paralyzed World War II veteran who used a wheelchair. Accessibility was considered at every step of the design process, and this Smithsonian Magazine article explores that process and the home’s history in great detail.
Wheelchair user preparing to exit autonomous vehicle via a ramp.
  • New Autonomous Paratransit Shuttle is Wheelchair Accessible — America’s first wheelchair accessible paratransit shuttle has begun operations in Detroit. The shuttle, developed by Navya, features a wheelchair ramp produced by BraunAbility. Trevor Pawl, the State of Michigan’s Chief Mobility Officer said, “Through our state’s highly collaborative environment between our public and private sectors, we’re able to utilize next-generation technologies to create a future that prioritizes safer, more inclusive mobility services for residents.”
  • Exterior of Olympic and Paralympic Museum.
  • Exhibit gallery at museum.
  • Wheelchair accessible console for interactive display at museum.
  • Exhibit gallery at museum.
  • New U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum Opens — The brand-new 60,000-square-foot U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (USOPM) has opened in Colorado Springs. The museum joins the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and its Training Center in the city dubbed as “Olympic City.” The museum boasts 11 permanent galleries and 1 special exhibit gallery. The magazine Architectural Digest has said that the USOPM may be “the most accessible museum in the world,” and its commitment to universal design is evident. Once it is safe to travel, I look forward to checking it out!
  • Sunflower Scheme Adopted by All British Railways — As reported by Global Railway review, all train operators in England, Scotland and Wales now recognize sunflower lanyards, which are worn by people with invisible disabilities to let staff and others know that they may require more time or assistance when riding the train. Eurostar, which provides transportation between the U.K, Belgium, France and Holland, has also signed on to the scheme.
Wheelchair accessible garden with pathways and planters.
  • Botanical Garden Opens New “Inclusive Garden” — The Toledo Botanical Garden opened The Doneghy Inclusive Garden to the public last month. The garden is billed as “a place created for people of all abilities to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of gardening.” It features accessible pathways, raised planting basins and tools which disabled people can use to do a bit of gardening.
  • Op-Ed: ADA Standards Should Include Access for Autistic People — Wendy Ross, the Director of Jefferson Health’s Center of Autism and Neurodiversity, makes the case that autistic people have been excluded from the regulatory process and the ADA standards. While the ADA requires ramps for wheelchair users, she says, it has implemented no specific standards to support people with autism beyond the reasonable accommodation requirement. She writes, “We must ensure that education, public facilities, offices, and other spaces are designed with ‘ramps’ of understanding and sensitivity for this community.” Indeed, a significant overhaul of the ADA Standards is long overdue and every group should be represented.

Featured image courtesy Laurent House Foundation.

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