Let The Fun Continue
By Gretchen Brost
For 48 years of my life I enjoyed so many of the same fun physical activities that an able-bodied girl can. As a child, I explored the hills and forests in Missouri and New York with my family and friends. In my teens, I camped, went spelunking, and water skiing. Then in my 20s I married. The fun continued. With my husband and children, I traveled extensively and made our home wherever in the world the Army or the next mining job took us. While living in the Marshall and Solomon Islands, we enjoyed scuba diving and boating. Hiking was exhilarating in the mountains of Africa and our American West. It's no wonder I love writing and painting, to archive a few of those precious memories.
I had to slow down in my 40s, when I was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS. Even though my physical activities became more difficult, we purchased an electric wheelchair and continued to travel, adapting to our environment. Now, my devoted husband and I are discovering ways to better enjoy travel and fun activities with the help of websites such as this. We are sticking closer to home and planning accessible trips within Arizona. These are only doable because of a loving God and family, good advice and planning, better equipment, and very importantly, the ADA requirements that are now in place.
Dictionary of Construction.com defines "a barrier free environment" as - - - A building or area that is fully accessible and usable by disabled people. I like this definition and especially the words "fully accessible." We are constantly on the lookout for these areas. When we find a nice one that meets our particular needs, we record it's location for future use. Shockingly, many businesses and public venues (even those that are new or newly remodeled) are barely compliant with the ADA laws.
Each person with a disability has specific needs, but all people with disabilities will benefit from fully accessible facilities wherever they go. Some of my big concerns are:
Restrooms: For me, a fully accessible restroom would be one that is also considered a "family" restroom because my spouse needs to assist me for all my transfers. It is unreasonable to expect him to accompany and help me within a women's restroom. The lockable, freestanding, family style restroom would also need to meet ADA standards that include room for transferring to and from a wheelchair. Also, it would have an assistive bar on the wall by the toilet, with the transferring space uninterrupted by a toilet paper dispenser. A toilet paper dispenser mounted in front of the toilet can hinder a transfer.
Hotel Rooms: Often, proprietors think they are complying with ADA standards by providing just enough room to turn a wheelchair
between a bed and the wall, when the room is actually large enough to provide a lot more space to do this. Sometimes rooms with one wide bed have more transfer room than those with two beds. Also, beds that are too high are difficult for handicapped people to negotiate. All overnight facilities should provide roll in showers in their fully accessible rooms.
Restaurants: When a wheelchair user eats out, there is nothing more frustrating than a table that is inaccessible. We look for pedestal tables that are high enough to roll under.
Parking: Accessible parking is abundantly available, but not always adjacent to entrances. A safer alternative is to make all handicap accessible parking on the same level as the entrance sidewalk, so handicapped people can avoid navigating through parking lots.
Ramps: Finding ramps adjacent to stairs is a welcoming sight for wheelchair users. In one small Arizona town, I had to access a restaurant through the kitchen door in an alleyway because the front steps to the building are a wheelchair barrier.
Pathway surfaces: Most wheelchairs can negotiate pavement and hardpacked dirt. Off-road trails with too many high rocks can be a problem, especially if your wheelchair has a metal easy-lock bolt installed in the bottom of it.
Accessible transportation: Off-road travel has been limited since we use a wheelchair accessible minivan that is very low to the ground because it has a built-in, automatic ramp. Inside it, my wheelchair is secured to the floor by its easy-lock system. In out-of-the-way spots I welcome the opportunity to ride in vans, trains, or jeeps that are wheelchair accessible.
We know that there are so many exciting places to explore and sights to see right here in our own backyard. We're anxious to try them out and "let the fun continue!"
Mission Of 2 Cool Lizards
EXPERIENCE LIFE. We want to encourage everyone to travel and truly experience the world around them. If we can increase public awareness about the barriers facing those with physical limitations and special dietary needs, perhaps we can help remove those barriers, allowing more people to travel and explore their surroundings. Besides the obvious humanitarian reasons for opening up travel to people with disabilities, it makes financial sense. If cities, parks and commercial establishments do not address this properly, they are leaving out a huge segment of the market. We realize it is difficult for every establishment to have a fully accessible restroom. Perhaps a better idea would be for each small town to have at least one fully accessible, family friendly restroom - perhaps in a downtown park or other central location.
Not all restaurants can provide diets to meet all needs. Due to the ever increasing population of people with gluten intolerance, we are now adding a section to address their needs.
If you own or know of a place that meets ADA requirements, is wheelchair accessible, is "family friendly" (provides private, lock-up restrooms), or addresses special dietary needs, please notify us using the contact button located on all of our menus. We will add you to our
list of resources.
Look for the following symbols on all of our destination pages. These sections provide information on accessiblilty of the place, plus information on whether the site is pet or child appropriate.
Click here for our Accessible Travel Resources