Access Your Road Trip

Travel does not have to be limited by ability or finances or a fear of flying. Why not plan a road trip with friends and family? Visit the beautiful coast of California. Take a drive through the historical capitals, Washington D.C. or Toronto, ON. Spend a day at the fun-filled amusement parks of Florida. Or maybe a camping trip? For information on accessible routes and destinations, or help choosing for perfect destination, have a read!

Here are some great resources to check out: Barrier Free Travels, 22 Accessible Road Trips, TravelinWheels, Wheels Traveler, and Frommers.

We’ve also compiled a list of accessible must-see places to help you get started.

West

Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, HI loans out beach wheelchairs free of charge to visitors with physical disabilities.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO and The National Ability Center in Park City, Utah provide adapted sports and programs for all ages and abilities.

Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, CO is an abundance of natural beauty, with accessible trails, boardwalks, and campsites.

Southwest

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, TX is the only theme park in the world in which every ride is accessible. Park attractions were created based on the principles of sensory integration.

Midwest

Ludington State Park in Ludington, MI has beach wheelchairs available as well as an accessible boardwalk.

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI is an accessible venue that depicts American history through exhibits, programs, and re-enactments.

Southeast

Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL (or Disney Land in Anaheim, CA) is a popular destination for families and is famous for accommodating guests with disabilities.

Northeast

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY is wheelchair accessible and runs programs for persons with disabilities.

Canada

Victoria, BC has a variety of accessible bus tours and boats for sightseeing the beautiful British Columbia.

AB is home to some of the most beautiful and accessible national parks. Grab a map and drive to Jasper, Banff, and/or Calgary to see all that nature has to offer.

Niagara Falls, ON showcases accessible attractions such as a boat tour entitled Maid of the Mist, a Journey Behind the Falls, and the White Water Walk boardwalk.

Toronto, ON offers modified tours of the Toronto Botanical Garden, as well as access to the CN Tower and the Toronto Harbourfront.

Old Montreal in Montreal, QC, with its cobblestone streets and accessible grand stone buildings is a beautiful section of town (streets may not be easy to travel for some).

 

And don’t forget these tips and tricks:

Do your research. Make a packing list beforehand. Bring entertainment/brush up on car games if you are traveling with children. Car rides are more fun with good snacks and good music. If you have a GPS, use it! Take photos of your family/friends and your travels. Be flexible!

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Hitting the Road with the Freys

Amy Frey in her new wheelchair accessible minivan

Planning a vacation or shopping for a flat screen TV can be taxing. The process can take a day, a weekend, a week; involve hours of research, countless conversations with friends, family, and sales persons; and conclude with the difficult final decision. Now what if you were buying a wheelchair accessible minivan? For some, this can take years!

Meet Malcolm and Lyne Frey. They began the hunt for an accessible van for their daughter, Amy, over two years ago. The Frey family is young and active and was in need of a vehicle that was comfortable, safe and reliable. We recently spoke with Lyne to learn more about their search for the perfect van.

The Freys originally went to an accessible vehicle dealership for a quote, but were discouraged by the prices. At that time, they were not aware of the different types of conversions, ramps, and add-ons, making it difficult to determine what their family needed. But once Amy got bigger, it became difficult for the Frey family to travel.

The Freys are a family of five; Malcolm and Lyne have 3 daughters, ages 11, 8, and 9 months. Amy, age 8, is a beautiful and happy girl. Malcolm and Lyne learned that Amy had microcephaly, cerebelar hypoplasia, and global development delays when she was just 8 months old. She functions at a 3-12 month-old level and began using a wheelchair shortly after her 4th birthday. Amy is now starting to walk and explore but is still dependent on her wheelchair for mobility and travel.

The Frey family’s day to day life is very busy. With 3 children, they are constantly on the go and morning and nightly rituals can take hours. Lyne says that things have changed drastically with a wheelchair user in the family. Stairs and curbs are viewed in a new way. Everything takes longer and the family takes up space wherever they go. Lyne does note, however, that she gets the good parking spaces!

The Freys revived their search this spring and bought a rear entry, short floor from Savaria. Having the accessible van has made a huge difference in the Frey’s daily living. Before the van, it was quite a process to get Amy in and out of the family vehicle. Now all they need to do is wheel Amy into the van and buckle up. Lynn and Malcolm actually argue over who gets to do it! With traveling so much easier now, the family plans on taking a trip to Niagara Falls this summer in their new van.

“Buying with Savaria was easy,” Lynn says. The family lives about an hour away from our Brampton offices so their sales representative, Ryan, drove the van down to Amy’s school so that the family could take Amy for a test drive.

When asked what advice she would give to other families searching for an accessible van, Lynn replied “get educated.” Learn about the types of vans, conversions, and ramps and think about which is the best choice for your family.

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Design with an Accessible Twist

Bedroom designed by Cynthia at CMG Interiors for a child with sensory needs

Creative thinking is a must when designing for children with disabilities. It takes a good understanding of your child’s condition and what stimulates your child combined with a big dose of fun to make it a great kid’s space.

A child may have a physical need for access of the need for mental stimulations. Parents may be looking for ways to incorporate or hide medical equipment. Ginger Rodriquez, an interior designer and mom featured in the Washington Post believes that children with special needs spend more time in their rooms. Designers need to find new and interesting ways to divert a child’s attention away from his or her disability.

We spoke to Cynthia Meyers Griffin at CMG Interiors in Washington D.C. about the process of designing for a child with special needs. The first step is always getting to know the child. What are his or her needs? What will the room be used for – play, homework, rest? Does the child have a favorite color? It is also a good idea to talk to the parents to learn more about the child and what they are hoping to see in the room design. Cynthia also recommends doing some research on the child’s disability to better understand the challenges and needs and possibly design solutions that others have found effective. From there, the designer launches into the creative process to dream up the perfect room.

For children who are easily stimulated, she recommends calm colors, and just the opposite for children who need energizing. Some children may have issues with light, in which case diffusing or using artificial light is a great idea. Other solutions include spinning elements to help children who use movement to process information, rugs for diffusing sound or providing sensory stimulation, or high ceilings and open spaces for stimulating toys such as bouncy balls.

Ginger Rodriguez describes her design for her son in a WP February 2012 article (no longer available online). She installed hardwood floors so that her son could better use and move his IV pole. Lowered light switches and a control for the stereo system gave Sean control and independence in his room. She added a personal touch by painting the walls light blue with an image above the bed of a little boy flying an airplane and laughing.

For parents looking for Do-It-Yourself tips and tricks, Terri Sapienza outlines a number of ideas here, including hide-away bed rails and pocket doors to maximize space.

Designing a room for a child with disability can make a huge difference in his or her life. Not only can it be a rewarding experience for the designer, but the child is able to be self-sufficient and independent, something of utmost importance to children with disabilities. Having a room painted in your favorite color, with your favorite toys, room for your medical supplies, and easy access to light switches, the desk, the bed, etc. gives a feeling of “home.” And who doesn’t want that feeling for their child!

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Savaria at the World Expo in China

Savaria booth at WEE Expo 2012 in Guangzhou, China

Last weekend marked the 10th biannual World Elevator & Escalator Expo, which began back in 1996. Sponsored by China Elevator Association, the event took place at China Import & Export Fair Exhibition Hall in Guangzhou.

The World Elevator & Escalator Expo 2012 is officially the largest elevator exhibition in the world and boasted more than 50,000sqm in exhibition space. 600 exhibitors were in attendance, hailing from 22 countries, including Germany, Korea, Japan, India, Turkey, Italy, and Finland. Exhibitors ranged from elevator manufacturers to dealers to metal manufacturers to electric companies and parts distributors.

Savaria exhibited our line of personal mobility products, featuring our NEW gearless Eclipse elevator and our platform lifts, stairlifts and stair climber. Staff from our office in Huizhou had a wonderful time interacting with customers, dealers, and other industry professionals. Thanks to WEE Expo Ghangzhou ’12 for hosting this incredibly successful event.

Check out some pictures here of our Savaria booth.

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Disabilities in Action

When you think of iconic movie stars or television characters of our time, do any have a disability? Well that might soon change. We are starting to see a growing presence of persons with disabilities on the TV and the big screen.

The shows and movies vary from documentaries about the disability to reality shows to television dramas. Three shows feature a regular cast of people with physical disabilities. Most of you will know the first two: Little People, Big World and The Little Couple. Both shows follow the lives of real families with physical disabilities resulting in dwarfism. And although their disabilities play a big role in the shows, they are, at their core, shows about people and relationships and… life. Now you are probably wondering what the third show is. It’s a new series to premiere on June 5 entitled Push Girls. The show follows the lives of four women who live with paralysis in theHollywood area. The show documents the everyday challenges each women face, both physically and mentally. We will definitely be checking this one out!

It’s fabulous to see shows that bring awareness to what it is like to live with a disability. This is a great medium to challenge or change the public perception of persons with disabilities.

And then there are shows that don’t focus on disability. There is simply a character or a person that happens to have a disability. A prime example of this can be seen in the diverse cast of Glee. Artie is a performer in the show choir before he is a young man in a wheelchair. This idea can also be seen in Rolling Around the World with Zach Anner. This funny, charming young man travels the world with a film crew. One episode in and you completely forget the host has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair. These shows are great because they do something entirely different. They reduce the stigma surrounding physical and mental disabilities and break down stereotypes. As a viewer, you don’t focus on the person’s disability because the show doesn’t.

Recently, a range of industries have begun to embrace accessibility and the media is doing their part by increasing access to images and depictions of persons with disabilities. This is amazing to see and even more exciting to think about a day where this will go from being wonderful to being the norm. Shows and movies will regularly feature people with disabilities because they are, after all, trying to represent and depict the diversity of the real world.

 

Other examples of persons with disabilities in the media include:

 

Do you know of other people with disabilities on the big screen? Love one of the shows we mentioned? Tweet us @mobilityforlife and let us know, hashtag #PWDHollywood

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