Photo by: jnystrom (Stock Exchange)

Photo by: jnystrom (Stock Exchange)

Beautiful Niagara Falls

Hello, everyone! My name is Simos and I’ll be contributing to the Disabled Travelers blog from now on. I’ve been writing for the web here and there for over six years and I’ve journeyed around Europe and the world. It’ll be my pleasure to help you find the latest information on disabled travel and accessibility. And remember, you can always contact me through the blog if you want to share your own disabled travel experiences!

I’m on my way to New York City for New Year’s Day, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the region lately. I’ll be back later with a disability access report on Times Square, but for now, let’s start a little bit further north. Earlier in this blog, we reported that attendants for disabled passengers would travel free on the airlines Air Canada and West Jet. This would apply to handicapped travelers needing medical or mobility assistance, and obese passengers whose mobility is impaired by their condition.

Unfortunately, it’s gotten a little more complicated since then. Sources are reporting that passengers on Canadian airlines are to be tested to qualify for the free seat. Canadian doctors are up in arms – and rightly so – about all the implications of this. Requiring extensive medical documentation is a huge inconvenience to handicapped travelers and requires time and effort from doctors who already have a full roster of patients to attend to. As someone who’s suffered from reduced mobility and obesity problems at different times (you can see how one could be related to the other!) I’m alarmed.

As of today, Air Canada’s website still discusses special seating with reference to medical authorization. WestJet still uses the term “one person, one fare” in its disabled passenger seating policy. Thankfully, the news isn’t all bad: there’s a vibrant and growing Airline Passenger Bill of Rights movement in Canada that would address this and other problems. Until there are new developments, be aware that flying into Canada with some carriers might involve a detailed screening process, and plan accordingly!

Things aren’t quite right in the sky, but the situation for disability travel and wheelchair access seems to be much better in many of Canada’s major cities. Abilities Canada, a website of the nonprofit Canadian Abilities Foundation, reports great accessibility standards in Vancouver inspired by the Paralympics there. Anyone planning a trip to Canada should check out the directory of access guides provided by the Foundation.

For other accessible travel resources in Canada, Frederick Travel of Waterloo prides itself on being the first tour operator in that country focused on providing total accessibility tours. Brewster, Inc. claims to offer wheelchair accessible tours that feature activities throughout western Canada, including the Banff Gondola, Minnewanka Lake Cruise, and the Columbia Icefield Glacier. Accessible Niagara collects great resources on accessible accommodations, attractions, and services in the Niagara Peninsula, famous for wonderful Niagara Falls. For accessibility information throughout the rest of Canada, the Canadian government has some excellent information, broken down by province, including a terrific accessibility guide for Quebec.

I’ll be back next week with more news, information and resources for handicapped travelers. Until then, keep adventuring! And if you have any disabled travel stories you’d like to share, don’t forget to write!

Si

Peace River in Alberta, Canada

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[...] everyone! I’m back and it’s time for more news from Disabled Travelers. Since the debacle I described last week about accessible travel problems with Canadian airlines, I’ve been thinking a lot about cruises. [...]

Comment by gaye bjornson

Posted on December 7th, 2009

We are looking for a two week Mexican vacation leaving directly from Kelowna BC for a disabled man in a motorized wheelchair. he cannot walk but can stand for a short period of time. wondering if you can suggest a good vacation spot for this.

Comment by traveler

Posted on December 18th, 2009

Hi, Gaye,

Mexico is traditionally one of the more difficult locales for
accessibility. However, Oaxaca, in southeastern Mexico, is a bit
better than most.

This is a good general travel guide:
http://oaxaca-travel.com/guide/index.php?lang=us

For a lot of locales in Mexico, your best bet is going to be a bed and
breakfast on a renovated / retrofitted property with wheelchair
access. This kind of arrangement can offer you the best personalized
service and expert local advice on what local attractions are
accessible.

If you choose Oaxaca, I would recommend starting with the Oaxaca Bed
and Breakfast Association and getting into contact with some of the
proprietors there, to discuss your specific needs and find out if one
might be right for you. The Association website is right here:
http://oaxacabedandbreakfast.org. Though standards for accessibility
are different in Mexico, some of the B&B owners are American expats
who will have a more rounded view of your needs. I’m sure anyone from
OBBA would be eager to help.

You can, of course, get flights directly from Kelowna to Oaxaca, which
has its own international airport.

If you’re in the market for guided tours, then check out what’s on
offer from Accessible Journeys. They offer accessible tours with a
private car and driver and other amenities, centered in Mexico City
and the surrounding areas. I’m sure they can also offer you further
info on contact. Their page for Mexico City is here:
http://www.disabilitytravel.com/independent/accessible-mexico.htm

Here’s a database listing of hotels around Mexico City that offer
wheelchair accessible accommodations:
http://www.travelmuse.com/hotels-with-wheelchair_accessible-mexico-mexico-09-mx

Hope this helps.
Si