TravelAbility’s Innovative “Rethinking Accessibility” Initiative: A Beacon of Hope for Global Accessibility

Travelability Rethinking Accessibility Project

In the quaint city of Sausalito, California, a company named TravelAbility has been tirelessly working to dismantle barriers and build bridges. Recognized as a vanguard in its field, TravelAbility is known for its commitment to creating a world where the thrill of travel is accessible to all, irrespective of physical limitations or disabilities. The company has recently unveiled a pioneering initiative aptly named “Rethinking Accessibility,” a project that is as ambitious as it is necessary. This project is designed to illuminate the world of travel with the glow of inclusivity, a move that could potentially rewrite the narrative around travel for people with disabilities.

Jake Steinman, the  founder of TravelAbility, asserted, “While the ADA provides some baseline for physical infrastructure such as ramps and grab bars in bathrooms, there’s no ADA for information.” In a world where information is power, the absence of accessible information can be a formidable barrier. The “Rethinking Accessibility” initiative is TravelAbility’s bold answer to this challenge.

Rethinking the Approach to Accessibility

TravelAbility’s unique approach transcends mere compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the ADA has undeniably been instrumental in shaping accessible physical infrastructure, it does not extend its mandate to the realm of information. Therein lies a significant gap, one that often renders the world of travel impenetrable for those with disabilities.

TravelAbility’s “Rethinking Accessibility” project aims to bridge this information gap. The project, launched in partnership with members of the Destination A11Y Club, is a concerted effort to uncover and highlight accessibility information on the websites of participating destinations. The goal? To illuminate what can be done, rather than dwelling on what cannot.

Unveiling the World through the Lens of Accessibility

The “Rethinking Accessibility” initiative is not about merely listing the physical features of a destination that make it accessible. Rather, it is about narrating a story of inclusivity, a tale that weaves together the many unique features of a destination that can enhance the travel experience for people with disabilities.

In the words of Jason Holic, Sr. V.P. Operations, Experience Kissimmee, “the greatest value in the campaign has been its ability for us to start a conversation with partners with the backing of a coordinated, third-party effort. It’s a conversation that partners want to be part of, even if they didn’t know beforehand that they wanted to be part of it.”

The project has already begun to yield some fascinating insights. In Fairfax County, VA, for instance, the Mount Vernon home of George Washington has found a novel way to navigate the inaccessible stairs leading to the second floor. Visitors with mobility challenges are offered iPads that connect them virtually to the tour guide leading the tour upstairs. On the other hand, in Lancaster, PA, the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park boasts of 35 fully accessible rides.

Painting a Richer Picture of Accessibility

The “Rethinking Accessibility” project is not just about highlighting unique features. It is also about painting a richer, more nuanced picture of accessibility. Each participating destination has a landing page dedicated to accessible content, where the unique accessibility features will be showcased. The goal is to make this information readily available to prospective travelers, allowing them to plan their trips with ease.

The project is part of TravelAbility’s broader “Destinations with Accessibility” initiative, which currently aggregates accessibility content for 143 destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands. You can explore these destinations and their unique accessibility features on the TravelAbility website.

Looking Ahead: Emerging Markets Summit and Beyond

The outcomes of the “Rethinking Accessibility” project will feed into a series of enlightening case studies. These case studies will be featured at the forthcoming TravelAbility’s Emerging Markets Summit, scheduled for August 18-20, 2023, in Savannah. The summit will provide a platform for sharing insights, exchanging ideas, and exploring the potential of the emerging markets in the realm of accessible travel.

Jake Steinman sees a world of opportunity. “According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the population lives with some form of disability,” he notes. “Travel is the toy department of life, and everyone should be able to enjoy it.” Indeed, the potential of the market for accessible travel is vast, and it is a realm that remains largely untapped.

TravelAbility: Transforming the Travel Landscape

TravelAbility’s commitment to making travel more accessible extends beyond the “Rethinking Accessibility” project. The company has been working relentlessly to transform the travel landscape, making it more inclusive and enjoyable for people with disabilities.

Through its varied projects and collaborations, such as the Emerging Markets Summit, TravelAbility Insider, and the “Destinations with Accessibility” initiative, TravelAbility has been steadily nudging the travel industry towards greater inclusivity. The company’s groundbreaking work is poised to rewrite the narrative of travel, opening up new horizons for people with disabilities.

As the “Rethinking Accessibility” project unfolds, the world of travel holds its breath, awaiting a revolution. One that promises to bring the thrill of exploration, the joy of discovery, and the freedom of travel within everyone’s reach. The initiative marks the beginning of a new era, an era where travel is not a privilege, but a right that everyone can enjoy.