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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!

read more

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.

read more

A Stroll in the Park Made Easy

Millennium Park in Chicago, IL. Photo courtesy of Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture.

Countdown to spring: 9 days. Warm weather, budding trees and flowers, squirrels roaming about, birds chirping… you know the rest. With the season fast approaching, local parks are making the move to become accessible, bringing beautiful landscapes and nature to everyone.

In Windsor, Ontario, Lakeside Park has been constantly patching up the stairs that run down the middle of the park. Now the town is hoping to remove them entirely to make the park accessible. The hope is to replace the stairs with a footpath; discussions are still ongoing. Read more about this story here.

Named after the Canadian novel “Beautiful Joe,” Beautiful Joe Park in Meaford, Ontario currently has an extremely steep incline and non-accessible washrooms. The Beautiful Joe Heritage Society is looking to construct accessible public washrooms and install a footbridge that would span the park. Read more about this story here.

If you’d like to learn more about established accessible parks, check out Bowen Park, which has been recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners as a candidate for the best public space in Canada. You can also take a look at Millennium Park in Chicago, IL.

One example that stood out is the parks of Massachusetts. The Buttonbush Trail at the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Johnny Kelley Trail in Dennis include guide ropes and Braille text. Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick offers a 1/4-mile handicapped-accessible trail and boardwalk for bird watching. The Department of Conservation and Recreation also hosts accessible hiking programs with mountain wheelchairs, push joggers and lots of rest stops at many state parks.

With the nice weather fast approaching (fingers crossed), Savaria is always excited to hear about parks and outdoor attractions turning to accessible solutions!


read more

The Passion of Parasports

Sledge Hockey at the ParaSport Ontario Winter Games

Did you know that the Olympic Games include 35 sports, differing from the Paralympics only by 2 game offerings? Buzz about the 2012 Olympics to be held this summer in London, England has begun. And that means… the Paralympics are fast approaching as well!

Parasports are adapted or new sports specifically designed for athletes with a physical disability or limitation. Athletes may use a wheelchair, have a prosthetic limb, or suffer from blindness. The official parasport games are virtually endless, with 33 sports internationally recognized by parasport organizations. The most popular are athletics (similar to track and field), cycling, soccer, goalball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair curling and sledge hockey.

The most widely known parasport organization is the Paralympic Games. The Paralympics run parallel to the Olympics, in the same host city, and include either the summer or winter games.

There are also many local parasport organizations, one of which is ParaSportOntario. The organization just held their annual Winter Games in Huntsville, Ontario. Savaria staff member Ryan Bedard was invited to attend as a VIP and was thrilled at the opportunity to see these incredible athletes compete. This weekend, he witnessed extreme talent and dedication.

“With this being my first ParaSport Ontario Games, I was unsure what to expect. I was amazed, inspired and humbled all at the same time. ParaSport’s athletes exemplify sportsmanship in the truest form. Their passion and competitiveness is unmatched,” says Ryan. “I look forward to attending my next games.”

Paralympic competitors often train for 15-20 hours a week on average, while balancing a full-time career. Many high school/college athletic programs have events where their able-bodied athletes take part in a parasport – such as basketball players playing wheelchair basketball. Those participants are then truly able to understand the strength that Para athletes must have in order to compete.

Paralympic gold medalist Adam Hall says “I was born with a disability, but that’s what life is about. It’s about changing things that are difficult and making them into things you can do. If I was to go on a running race with you, I’d be the one with the disability. But come and have a ski with me and you’d be the one with the disability.”

So congratulations to ParaSport Ontario on their 2012 Winter Games. We, at Savaria, cannot wait for the summer games. And to all of our friends, check out the links below and get involved! Parasports are such a great way to have fun and stay active.



read more