Hello, all! Today on Disabled Travelers we’re taking a little break from our whirlwind tour of accessible Asia to share a little good news closer to the “home front.” Every once in a while I like to take a day off from my wanderings, put it in “park” and check up on items of general interest for handicapped travelers everywhere – and WOW, do I have some interesting news today, so check it out!
According to a recent article in The New York Times, there’s a whole New Hotel Search for Disabled Travelers. Now live on the massively popular travel websites Hotels.com and Expedia, the Accessibility Features search tool offers one-click search for accommodations for a wide range of needs. These include mobility impaired access items like “accessible path of travel” and features for the hard-of-hearing and visually handicapped. Though it’s a little bit clunky as currently implemented, and could stand to be more specific in the categories of amenities it offers, it’s a great start.
And that’s no surprise: NYT reports this newest innovation is the direct result of a lawsuit by handicapped travelers who settled with Hotels.com in 2009 after bringing the site to court for failing to guarantee wheelchair accessible reservations. It’s too bad it had to come to that, of course, but this is definite progress and will benefit everybody. It might be a game-changer and a good challenge for sites around the web that traditionally offer “some” accessibility information … Hotels.com could really make up for their mistakes by helping to set a higher standard for accessibility in the travel biz.
(A caveat: even with this tool, I would still recommend calling ahead before making a reservation if you’re not completely sure that a given hotel will meet your needs. Then you have their statements to you on record, and their recognition of your expectations from moment one! Maybe, as the search functionality improves, this’ll be less necessary.)
Before I go, let me also point out two sites that are really starting to have their presence felt here on the blog and deserve some special attention. The first is Emerging Horizons, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned a few times but never in the “spotlight.” It’s a great site for up-to-date, worldwide accessible travel news and advice. The site’s editor-in-chief, Candy Harrington, also maintains the blog Barrier Free Travels and has authored a number of books on finding accessible vacations. Don’t miss out!
The other resource for today is Travel Oxygen, a worldwide provider of products and information for oxygen-dependent travelers. Now, there are a lot of oxygen providers in the world and heaven knows you should use the one that you trust. But TO is one of the few I’ve seen that claims to service so many destinations worldwide (over 300 countries and territories). There’s also some good information on the site, such as using oxygen on a cruise, though the color scheme does make it a little hard to get through. If you can’t find an oxygen provider to meet your travel goals, check with them.
That’s it for today, but I’ll be back on the road in the next Disabled Travelers. Adventure on!