These #3 Companies Are Enabling Travel for All
Each travel destination has its own rules and regulation of accessibility for persons with disabilities. Many disabled people hide their impairment to avoid awkwardness and negative attitudes from the public. The only reason being the fear and stigma of different treatment.With the increasing number of people with disabilities, it's important to make accessible tourism possible. Fortunately, there are some great organizations that give a freedom to see the world without any barrier.
Here are 3 travel companies that provide accessible travel without worries:
A Helping Hand:
Girls On The Go Travel Club has been organising trips for women since 2008. Over the years, due to the increasing popularity of single women travelling, the company has started receiving queries from women with disabilities who want to travel on their own. Most of them are financially self-sufficient as they earn their own income and take their own lifestyle decisions or come from supportive families.
Sharing the club's journey from the start, Piya Bose, Founder, Girls On The Go said " We started by organizing an event 'Rampwalk in Mumbai' in association with International Social Media Week. We took people on wheelchairs to various heritage monuments in Mumbai to see how accessible they are. We also organised an art appreciation session where we split people into pairs of two and blindfolded one person in each pair and asked the other person to describe the paintings and we received very interesting response after the blindfolds were removed. Some said their imagination of the painting was even more beautiful than the actual painting. It was an interesting experience in how to appreciate art even if one can't see ."
"We have also given travel advice to women traveling in India and abroad, suggesting hotels and activities they can do. We have also organized under water diving in pools in Mumbai as a prelude to experiment with deep sea diving in open waters in the future," she added.
" I would really like to now take women with disabilities to these places and make adventure truly more accessible to all women irrespective of disabilities," Bose said referring to other aspects of future projects.
Accessibility Begins With Great Information
Yeshwant Holkar started an online portal Umoja.in when he saw a dear friend with disability in difficulty to find accessible places to visit. That was the time when he felt there had to be a better way. He then teamed up with the co-founder, Ben Musgrave, who has over a decade of experience in accessibility to come up with a solution.
" We are working with both foreign and domestic travelers to arrange amazing accessible holidays in India, from Rajasthan to Kerela to Goa and more. Currently, we focus on wheelchair accessible travel but we will soon be able to provide travel solutions for persons with visual or auditory impairments as well. Our experts have visited over 100 destinations and attractions in India to find accessible hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and activities and we create travel packages and custom itineraries that are great for any budget! ," Holkar said.
Holkar feels the portal's response so far has been really encouraging.
" As accessible travel services are relatively new in India and UMOJA is one of the first, to hear how happy people are to have someone pay attention to and understand their needs really gives us confidence that we're on the right track," he added.
There are many challenges and hurdles in starting a new venture. The biggest hurdles Holkar faced when he started Umoja was that hotels in India really hadn't heard of or thought about the potential of accessible travel. Most people thought related the company to some NGO or a CSR initiative.
"With time and persistence, we've been able to open the industry's eyes to the business opportunity of accessible travel, and it's great to see that other players are moving into the accessible travel space as well," he said.
Making People With Disabilities Travel The Planet.
Need customized travel solutions to cater the need of differently- abled? Then Planet Abled will solve this problem. Run by Delhi-based Neha Arora, Planet Abled, is a social enterprise providing customized travel solutions for people with disabilities. Her personal not so good travel experiences as a daughter of parents with disabilities led to the inception of Planet Abled.
Talking about the mixed queries sent to Planet Abled, Neha said," Queries come as a mix. For Example, some families having a person with disability want to travel together, a group of friends in which one or two people are with a disability want to travel to a new destination. Some want to engage into trekking or adventure activities. We have also been receiving queries from people from other countries who want to travel with us."
With Planet Abled, Neha further plans to do many more unique tours and adventures in 2017 as well.
" I want to do every damn type of travel tour which the society thinks is not possible for a person with disability. And add more and more travel destinations to our bouquet. Because travel is not a privilege rather a basic human right and we want to reclaim that for a people with disabilities. We want to bring about a paradigm shift in the way people with disabilities are perceived in Indian society," she added.