Seedling Modern High School Jaipur Holiday Homework Passes

August 30, 2008

Express Travel World: India on Travel with a Disability

These are three articles resulting from our four-city Inclusive Tourism tour of India:

It's a Long Walk
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management01.shtml

Visability for Disability
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management02.shtml

Complete Access
* http://expresstravelworld.com/20080831/management03.shtml

Posted by rollingrains at 08:16 AM

August 22, 2008

Hopeful Signs - India and Ripple Effects

Positive development continue from the ASTA India sponsored workshop series on Inclusive Tourism.

While Tourism Secretary Banerjee brings government to bear, and the Adventure Tour Operators' Association of India teams up with international experts on Inclusive Tourism at the Adventure Travel Summit and Fair in Brazil, numerous Disabled People's Organizations, tour operators, travel agencies, and Ashoka Fellows fill in with entrepreneurial vigor to open everything from convention centers, to luxury, family, and extreme travel to the disability community. Progress will not be miraculous or overnight but, if this wave of interest institutionalizes, it can be substantial.


Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

On the technical side this protocol called Universal Design Guest Rooms developed by AccessAbility of New Delhi is promising. Download file

Posted by rollingrains at 02:57 AM

August 20, 2008

Saroma Holidays

Satish Nair is justifiably proud of the new houseboat design of his company Saroma Holidays sailing the backwaters of Kerala, India. Watch for this market to open up on a global scale with help from many regulars at the Rolling Rains Report.


Find more photos like this on Tour Watch

Posted by rollingrains at 03:36 PM

August 18, 2008

Emergency & Evacuation Preparedness by the Travel & Hospitality Industry

With a few minor injuries added to my body during transport in India ( laceration to my toe and a pressure sore ), damage to the wheelchair, and a few good frights all around I am a strong endorser of the movement to educate the industry on basic safety and evacuation protocols for customers with disabilities.

Here Bruce Bromley takes the lead in Australia with National Evacuation Chairs

Posted by rollingrains at 01:51 AM

August 17, 2008

Akhil Srivastava and Antardrishti.org

One of the enjoyable parts of returning home after an extended trip like the past three weeks in India s really getting to know all the extraordinary people I was able to interact with only briefly. Here is a link to the work of one such person, Akhil Srivastava and the group Antardrishti.

http://www.antardrishti.org/news.php

Posted by rollingrains at 09:31 PM

August 16, 2008

Meet Prasad Phanasgaonkar

Listen to Prasad Phanasgaonkar at the Mumbai Workkshop on Inclusive Tourism on August 30, 2008.

Posted by rollingrains at 07:43 PM

August 15, 2008

Driving Like India in the USA

Touchdown in the USA. A swift passage through Customs. On my own - and loving it.

With all my commentary about the driving style in India you would expect that reaching US soil I would be the model of good road behavior.

No so!

I made myself laugh as I realized that as soon as I was free to push my own wheelchair, without the attendant crowds of "helpers" who have swarmed me over the past three weeks, I sped through the crowd at JFK darting, dodging, and feinting like a New Delhi taxi driver. I must have looked like the teenagers from the 'hoods here in California who use the freeway traffic around them (all traveling at 70 + MPH) as "stationary" pylons while they play race car driver.

A couple generations ago my peers came back from India transformed by encounters with gurus and rhapsodizing on higher states of consciousness. I only seem to have turned into a second-rate livery jockey!

The terminal at the Jet Blue gates looked like an early morning at the ticket counter before a big rock concert - people spread all over the floors sleeping.

It turns out that New Dehli was not the only place experiencing unseasonably violent monsoons yesterday. New York and surrounding areas were shut down by rainstorms of up to 4 inches an hour and a tornado watch. I slowed down and picked my way through stranded passengers.

Except for the delay of less than an hour as the plane we were scheduled to use to fly from JFK to long Beach, CA was taken out of service for repairs, the trip proceeded smoothly. I was especially appreciative of the candor of the Jet Blue staff - and the discipline and courtesy of my fellow passengers some of whom were quite obviously wearing brave faces as they waited on Standby and us newcomers got flights out before they did.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:53 PM

August 14, 2008

Aventura Especial (Video in Portuguese)

Today I meet with the president of he Indian adventure tourism association who has just returned to Delhi. One of the topics on the agenda is what is being done in other countries. Dada Morerira's Aventura Especial will be one example I will discuss. India will ned to emulate Brazil as it took national action to incorporate modules on working with people with disabilities in adventure tourism professional certification curriculum.

Posted by rollingrains at 10:00 PM

August 12, 2008

Free2Wheel Delhi - A New Look!


Today I am the guest of Shivani Gupta of AccessAbility in New Delhi. Last night she, Vikas Sharma, and I stayed up to the wee hours scheduling my next few days and discussing projects. Today we do some site reviews for a court-ordered study, meet with the Tourism Ministry, and then disability rights activist Mr. Javed Abidi.

AccessAbility is lean, nimble, and producing valuable work.In just a week they have done a nice redesign of their city directory. Take a look:

http://www.free2wheel.co.in/

Posted by rollingrains at 04:09 AM

August 11, 2008

Flight Across India

Captain John Abraham Regional Manager of WHL - Kerala reminded me as we debriefed last night that the circuit that I just completed in 4 nights is generally a 12 to 15 day itinerary. No wonder I feel like I ran a marathon. I did!

Today I fly from Cochin to New Delhi via Chennai. In Delhi I hope to have a chance to process all these compressed experiences (and pass along the photos & measurements from the several sites assessments I did per day)

Posted by rollingrains at 01:15 AM

August 10, 2008

Back on Dry Land - Cochin, South India


The backwaters of Kerala are endlessly fascinating.

This region where the agricultural land is below sea level as in the Netherlands and where gondola-like canoes are the transportation method of choice. Then there are their big cousins!

I just spent the night on the water in a kettuvalum. "Kettu" means "tied" in Malayalam. The hulls are made of boards fitted, tied, and sealed into a seaworthy vessel. Typically domed with a palm-frond living compartment these lumbering boats look like cartoon caterpillars crawling slowly up and down the main channels of the canals.

But after 6 PM you won't find them on the main waterways. The next 12 hours are given over to the fishermen who work he deeper waters while kettuvalums hug the shore. You are just as likely to find yourself anchored in front of a rice paddy or a small village once night time comes. I learned this morning that the traditional question the children as visitors on he boats is "May I have one pen please?"

Kerala has 98% literacy rate. If I had known before I came that ballpoint pens were the coin of the pre-teen realm here I would have stuffed my bags with them. Who can resist a cute kid shyly begging for a pen (and then running off to show her friends her new prize!)

Rima here had her choice between a white and a blue one. She chose the blue one.


Posted by rollingrains at 04:22 PM

August 07, 2008

Lane Jumping in India: Highway Etiquette as Workout for Your Abs

I’m taking bets that my abs look more like those washboard midsections of tv gym equipment hucksters than they did when we started climbing to the hill stations of Kerala four hours ago.

There is a rhythm to driving in India. The driving rhythm has a danceable beat. At least that’s my working hypothesis since I have isolated no other pattern of rule-based behavior in what I have observed by sitting in the front passenger seat.

Apparently if you don’t “jump lanes,” as they call it here, on the downbeat you risk the moral equivalent of causing your dance partner to trip over his/her own feet. Generally, you dance partner is either the person playing the one-note symphony at your back bumper or the vehicle in your lane closing in on your front bumper rapidly from up ahead.

It is this Indian school of sedentary samba that has given my abdominal muscles their workout today.

We wove past city traffic in the flatland, around curves past tapioca plantations in the foothills, up through rubber and then pineapple plantations. Muscle tone was noticeably improved by the time we got to betel nut tree plantations, climbed higher past cocao seedling nurseries, coffee plantations, and finally on to terraced mountainside tea gardens.


Roots of one hundred year old tea bushes have shape d themselves to cling tenaciously to soil and rock – sometimes long after both have eroded away. I cling to the dashboard. Sometimes that’s because of the centrifigal force. Sometimes it’s to brace for what seems to be immanent impact.

I’m still not sure how they do it but the dance goes on and I’m developing a kinesthetic sense of its timing. Even so, I have never observed a dog, cow, pig, goat, car, truck, child or adult visibly respond to the horn being honked at them. Some part of this roadway dance definitely has something to do with projecting “coolness” under life threatening situations.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:54 PM

Moon Over Munnar


Padmanabhan, Executive Chef at Club Mahindra in Munnar, Kerala India got a workout last night. Not only did he make up some delicious Kerala dished ("medium spicy, please!"). He accompanied each serving personally as it was delivered to me. I was one of those meals that is a shame to have eaten alone: Kerala Fsh Curry with kingfish served on a specialty bread consisting of ground rice dough left to ferment over night. (His recipe uses yeast as leaven rather that the more typical toddy of fermented coconut juice for the sake of gusts who prefer no alcohol.)

It is not exactly fair to say I ate alone. Two fire dancers sent rapid-fire flares from their mouths into the sky on the terrace just beyond the restaurant. The excited response of children was visible, if not quite audible, over the pounding beat of hip hop, traditional Kerala, or techno beats depending upon their act. Unfortunately, I had come without my camera and it remained back in my room, the only fully adapted one in the Club Mahindra Lakeview Resort, and the room was up a flight of temporarily-ramped stairs connecting the second floor to the restaurant on a mezzanine level.

Nearby at East End Edassery Hotel also in Munnar I learned that there are seven tea factories operating in the area. Guests choose East End for a quieter 3-star experience and the owner of 16 years is about to renovate two rooms for guests using wheelchairs as they find increasing referrals for medical tourists supplementing the trekkers, honeymooners, and tea connoisseurs passing through. At present none are adequately accessible in this older property.

Here too the food was excellent. Homestyle fare lunch included Thoran, Sampar, Resam, and a Naranj (local) Kangari.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:08 AM

August 06, 2008

Mythic Travels


At this stage of my India tour my consistent travel companion literally comes along in my suitcase!

Ganesha, god education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth, is on his way to a good friend who asked me to transport him. I think he's doing his famous bit of "overcoming obstacles" as we travel (maybe so he can get home in one piece?)

Today was the worst experience I have ever had with an airline. In the end I am only limping along with a damaged wheelchair and was not dropped from the stairway up to the airplane as nearly happened. To add intentional insult to barely-avoided injury the spokesperson of the boarding assistance crew accused me of holding up the plane even though I arrived at the airport 30 minutes before he even checked in for work today.

Elephants walk rather silently for their bulk and seem to overcome obstacles with their momentum. Regardless of today's setbacks we are on a roll in India improving travel and leisure opportunities for all. That includes this fun group from Florida who I chatted with while we waited for our flights.


Posted by rollingrains at 08:26 PM

August 05, 2008

Thank you ASTA-India!

The four-city workshop tour on disability for the travel industry was a success. Endless detail and partnerships went into the design and logistics of this four-city whirlwind tour to raise awareness. All indications are that the message was enthusiastically received.

One example is that, as i write from my excellent room provided by our host the Park Hotel in Chennai (Madras) I will soon visit the Taj Coromandel down the road to do an access audit. The remainder of the day will be as guests of the Tour Guides association. Lodging for my last night here in Chennai tonight has been arranged by a generous workshop attendee, Geetha Menon of Parveen Holidays.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:17 PM

August 04, 2008

Sailability in India


Today's goal: Help spread Sailability while I'm here in India.

Sailing Venue:
Various
84 Rd3 Banjara Hiills Hyderabad


Contact details:
Name: Dipak Pradipak
Position: President Elect
Email: pradipak@hotmail.com
Phone: 914023355522
Fax: 914023355533
Mobile: 9490163957
84, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills
Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 500034
India

Website: http://www.sailability.org/admin/index.cfm

Sailability World Inc. operates in numerous countries throughout the world, through activities at 350 local Sailability clubs. Sailability is a "not for profit", volunteer-based organisation which, through the activity of sailing, enriches the lives of people with any type of disability, the elderly, the financially and socially disadvantaged.

Under various names, Sailability operates in Australia, France, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Timor Leste and USA with new national Sailability organisations currently being established in all parts of the world.

Sailability originated in Great Britain. In the 1980's the Royal Yachting Association formed the Seamanship Foundation, while at the same time a number of individual Sailability groups had formed the embryo of a national organisation for disabled sailors. As a result RYA Sailability was formed. Today the organisation is the leading national charity for disabled sailing in the UK with over 15,000 sailors benefiting from its activities. RYA Sailability is considered to be the most active sailing organisation for people with disabilities in the world, there being 200 clubs in the UK.

In 1991 Sailability was introduced to Australia, where there are currently over fifty groups covering every State and Territory, catering to a population of 20 million. Since then, an eager group of Sailability volunteers have successfully taken Sailability around the world.

Sailability activities cover a broad spectrum, ranging from recreation, therapeutic and competitive activities, from grass-root, entry level through to elite World Championships and Paralympic training.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:24 AM

August 02, 2008

Listening: The First Skill in Hospitality

CGH Earth Hotels have been one of the generous sponsors of our workshop your through India. On checking into their hotel in Cochin we discovered that there was no grab bar next to the toilet. By the time I returned from dinner an hour or so later on had been installed. Then I noticed that my grip has deteriorated so much that I can no longer use spherical door openers. Returning from a meeting I discovered they had solved that issue as well.

Sometimes the eagerness to please that I encounter in India has the unitended effect of leaving me feel mobbed. Other times it leaves me with the frightened observation that those manhandling my wheelchair (with me in it) have no training whatsoever in working with wheelchairs or protecting themselves from injury when lifting.

The common element is that these "helpers" do not listen.

The staff at CGH Earth's Casino hotel listen. That makes all the difference in the world.

Posted by rollingrains at 07:25 PM

August 01, 2008

India and Disability

As we travel across India doing workshops on Inclusive Tourism for the travel and hospitality we are privieged to eet up with Indian pioneers like Anjlee Agarwal, Javed Abidi, and Shivani Gupta all quoted is the current issue of India Today magazine:

"India's attitude has been: No Census, no statistics, no problem," says Javed Abidi, a wheelchair-user and a major voice for people with disability.

A study stint in the US showed him how much more fulfilling life can be for people like him. He came back and started raising uncomfortable questions: "How many of us are there? Why are we kept out of the Census?"

After a long battle, the Government finally yielded and Census 2001 put the figure at 2.13 per cent of India's population. But Abidi, who heads the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People, finds the figures debatable.

A World Bank report, People with Disabilities in India, claimed last year that for every 100 there are about eight disabled people in India. "If you don't see them that's because the system doesn't allow them to be visible," he says.


... Shivani Gupta became a wheelchair-user after a car accident at the age of 22, on the eve of leaving for higher studies in the UK. Over the years, struggling with the everyday challenges of taking her life forward, she has grasped the harsh reality:
The nation might be on a construction boom but easy access to buildings continues to be overlooked. "Builders install ramps, but in absence of guidelines, those are often all wrong," she says.

"We don't have any official guidelines on proper gradient, flooring, lighting, design, symbols and signage that make a place accessible." It was this exasperation that led her to set up AccessAbility, a firm that specialises in barrier-free design and employment solutions for the disabled.


Full article:

http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&&issueid=64&id=11903§ionid=3&Itemid=1&page=in&latn=2

Posted by rollingrains at 03:35 AM

July 31, 2008

The Taj Mahal Palace & towers in Mumbai

I susbscribe to the analysis that "stairs are a design error - a failure of imagination."

In spite of my ideological bias I must admit that th Grand Staircase of Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace is extraordinarily compelling. See for yourself:



Mumbai - Royal Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Posted by rollingrains at 03:22 PM

July 30, 2008

Multi-Sensory Mumbai

Mumbai is not a "free range" city where sacred cattle are left to "pasture" wherever they choose (often sitting in the roadway next to the center divide). Still, my first impression of Mumbai after debarkation from the Jet Air flight from New Delhi was olfactory. Somehow the fragrance reminded me of a T shirt a man was wearing at JFK a few days ago:

"Wisconsin: Smell the Dairy Air"

The sensory paradox of traveling through a city of 20 million while subtle undertones of feedlot waft through the air is confusing to the American palate.

Oddly, days and days of monsoon rain eliminated any trace of industrial or automobile pollution.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:22 PM

Imagine, India


The travel industry sells experiences.

India's Incredible India campaign has been remarkably successful at increasing tourism. It has "captured the imagination" with an unspoken command. "Imagine India. Imagine yourself in India."

I enjoy the verbal and mental jujitsu of inverting the familiar to extract new meanings so it was natural that I would wake up this morning realizing that my core message to attendees of our Inclusive Tourism workshop series in New Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, and Chennai is not far from the Incredible India message. It is this:

Imagine me, India. Imagine us in India.

Handicapping barriers are at their root a failure of imagination. Universal Design is meant to tickle the imagination into full awareness; into enlightenment.

India is imagining itself anew in the world marketplace.

A market is an interaction between buyers and sellers. In it goods and services are exchanged. During the steps leading up to a sale information is exchanged in a mutual process of education and trust-building. Sales follows education.

The Incredible India campaign will only continue on it exponential success trajectory if it understands that it is engaged in only the earliest stages of information and trust exchange.

"Brand India" must differentiate itself as "incredible" at communication. It must communicate a message that assures potential guests that they have been "imagined in India."

India has a movingly genuine national culture of extraordinary hospitality - "The guest is god."

Set alongside a unique landscape and built environment it is an experience. India can move a visitor through nature and humanity at a depth of thousands of years - or at Bollywood and digital speeds.

Heritage temples, the Taj Mahal, wild mountain hill stations need to be made accessible. So do the transportation systems to get there and the lodging nearby. Everything from quiet strolls to adrenaline-pumping extreme sports are where you will find travelers with disabilities spending their time and money these days.

Imagine, India, the humanity of travelers with disabilities. Infuse every aspect of your current growth spurt in infrastructure, business, and policy with Universal Design:

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.

Universal Design is also called Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and Lifespan Design. It is not a design style but an orientation to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the user. It has a parallel in the green design movement that also offers a framework for design problem solving based on the core value of environmental responsibility. Universal Design and green design are comfortably two sides of the same coin but at different evolutionary stages. Green design focuses on environmental sustainability, Universal Design on social sustainability.

Source:
http://www.adaptenv.org/index.php?option=Content&Itemid=3

What might that look like in India?

The answer will evolve in dialogue between government, industry, the disability community of India, and international visitors. That is the process these workshops is meant to assist.

Whatever it looks like, judging from the reception I have experienced in my short stay here I am sure the result will be incredible.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:48 AM

July 29, 2008

Inclusive Tourism Workshop Series - India


New Delhi is famously congested –even with every square inch of road, meridian, and shoulder put to full use as a travel lane. Starting about an hour late due to rush hout traffic the first workshop in the Inclusive Travel series filled the auditorium at the Surya Crowne Plaza. It was about as full at the end of the day (sometime after 6 pm) as at the start – a good indicator of a match between message, audience, and delivery.

The workshop covers definitions of disability and Universal Design in a context of customer service in he travel and hospitality industry. Attendees represented both the front and back of the house in the hospitality industry, hotel sales and manageement staff, tour operators, travel agents, and industrial design students. Leadership from several disabled people’s organizations contributed as panelists on the history and future of the promotion of inclusion in travel in India. From my perspective as a presenter it is always most interesting to learn from presentations from such groups s AccessAbility, Samarthayam, and Svayam. Over time excerpts to their presentation and links to their presentations will be posted at Rolling Rains.

From ASTA India:

Over 100 travel industry professionals from the hospitality, tourism and avialtion turned up this morning at the "Cronwe Plaza" New Delhi to attend the full day seminar organised by ASTA India Chapter. Mr. S Banerjee- secretary tourism who attended the seminar before lunch was very impressed by the presentations made by the speakers- Dr. Scott Rains - Publisher Rolling Rains report- US , Jani Nayar from SATH- US and Craig Grimes from AccessibleBarcelona- UK. He stressed on upgrading the infrastructure in every tourism site not only for the disabled but also for people who are approaching old age. He asked the ASTA India Chapter to present recommendations to the Ministry of Tourism after the seminar series. He promised full support and help to the initiative.

A number of DPO's - Disabled Peoples Organisations like- Accessibility, Swayam and Samarthyam were also present at the seminar. Some of their presentations were eye opener. These DPO's are already doing a lot of good work to make the tourism sites disabled-friendly or accessible to everyone!

The ASTA India Chapter team was upbeat about the entire project and they announced to develop a core group to take this further. According to them it is not a one off programme, they plan to develop this project in to a new tourism segment.

For more information on the seminar sessions and presentations, please get in touch with the ASTA India Chapter Admin office:

The next seminar is being held on 30th July at the Mayfair Banquets-

Worli in Mumbai as per the below programme.

9:00 Registration
9:30 Disability Awareness
10:15 What to Say and How to Say It
11:00 Basic Disability Etiquette Skills
12:30 Exercise in Disability Awareness: Disability Lunch
13:45 Debriefing of experiences at lunch
14:00 Inclusive Tourism in India – The current situation
14:30 Inclusive Tourism 101
16:00 Inclusive Marketing 101
17:30 The Future of Inclusive Tourism in India
18:00 End of Seminar- Feedback and Questions from the day

We invite the travel industry colleagues to attend the seminar and take

advantage of this great learning opportunity.

For registration and participation details, please contact:

Ms. Deepika Chowdhry- Event Coordinator
Phone: +91-11-41652406/ +91-11-41652410
E-mail at: admin@astaindia.com


ASTA Office bearers and members working on the seminar series:

Mr. Rajeev Kohli- President, ASTA India Chapter- rajeevkohli@travel2india.com
Mr. Gajendra Singh Panwar- Vice-President, ASTA India Chapter- directorgs@indoasiatours.com
Mr. Vishwas Makhija- Secretary, ASTA India Chapter- vishwas@luxuryindiaholidays.com
Mr. P N Narayanaswamy (Mohan)- Treasurer, ASTA India Chapter- mohan@travelscopeindia.com
Mr. N S Rathor- Member, ASTA India Chapter- garhatwo@vsnl.net
Mr. Ranju Joseph- Member, ASTA India Chapter- ranju@pner.com
Mr. Sriram Keshavan- Member, ASTA India Chapter- sriram@bharattravels.com

Register today!

Seminar hosts

Delhi- Surya Crowne Plaza , Mumbai- Mayfair Banquets and Outdoors,

Cochin- The Casino Hotel, Chennai- The Park

Posted by rollingrains at 11:23 PM

July 26, 2008

To Our Students in India: "Extra Credit Homework"

One of the joys of opening up the real world of people with disabilities to others is sharing the moment when a light goes on and the seemingly vast distance between disabled and non-disabled disappears.

Sometimes we do that with a role-playing exercise, a discussion, an article or just in casual conversation.

For those who will attend the New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, or Chennai workshops sponsored by ASTA - India I offer the following online videos to trigger that moment. Welcome to the art and images of disability culture from around the world.

From USA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc1YdL_w1Hg

From Portugal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFUacatn0IM

From Germany:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDnNrBPh1KU

From England:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZfOVNwjFU0

In ASL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBWaXGNUubA

From Brazil:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAknXbxPJg4

From USA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYPQ5UbrK1I


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFUacatn0IM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTxWoiefu3I&feature=related

Posted by rollingrains at 05:43 AM

July 25, 2008

Samarthya: A World-Class Example of Inclusive Tourism Promotion

One organization in India has distinguished itself on the national and international stage for innovation and expertise in Inclusive Tourism - Samarthya. It follows the path of "Promotion of a Barrier Free, Rights-Based Inclusive Society."

At the center of this remarkable organization are Ms. Anjlee Agarwal and Mr. Sanjeev Sachdeva. They have been trained in the Promotion of Accessible Tourism at Bali (Indonesia), 2000; Non-Handicapping Environment for Disabled People by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 2002 & Asia Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Bangkok (Thailand) 2004. They have in turn taken this training and put it to continuous use for the benefit of their nation and the region.

* Sanjeev and Anjlee have represented India at various International forums such as: International Conference on Transport & Mobility for Elderly and the Disabled (TRANSED), Hamamatsu (Japan), 2004;
* Panelist at the 2nd International Conference for Universal Design, Kyoto;
* Guest Lecturer at Osaka Municipal Lifelong Learning Centre, Osaka, (Japan) October 2006
* Resource Persons at International Workshop on Implementing Accessibility Regulations in Sri Lanka, Colombo (Sri Lanka) December 2006

So far Samarthya has conducted Access Audits (facilities checks) of more than 80 public utility buildings in various States, most of them with implementation results.

In addition, Samarthya has organized more than 60 Awareness & Capacity Building Excursion Tours for persons with severe disabilities to Indian places of historical, cultural, religious and tourist interests’ promoting the concept of Barrier-Free Tourism. Some of the places visited include Agra, Mathura, Bharatpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mt. Abu, Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Dalhousie, Chamba, Amritsar, Shimla, Kurushetra, Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Nainital, Lucknow, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mysore, Chennai, Tirupati, Goa, Port Blair, Bangalore, Gauhauti and Shillong.

Publications include:

* Access for All- Technical Brochure on Internal & External Design Considerations prepared in consonance with internationally accepted standards and building bylaws fourth edition in English, Hindi and Braille for Professionals, Administrators and Planners.

* Authored first Training Manual to promote Barrier Free Environment- Guidelines for Training of Trainers, 2005 published by Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). The contents as far as practicable, developed in Indian perspective with simple line illustrations, easy to understand format and result oriented case studies with photographs. Second Edition of the Manual is underway.

* Authored chapter in Handbook of Inclusive Education for Educators, Administrators and Planners, 2005 published by SAGE Publications; New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London

* Authored chapters in Work Book for In-service Teachers, 2006 on Barrier Free Environment in Inclusive School published by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

* Currently reviewing of first edition of Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Environment for Disabled and Elderly Persons, 1998 by Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, Government of India, is underway.

Other reports on Samarthya at RollingRains.com dating back to 2004 are available here.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:34 AM

July 15, 2008

Promoting Inclusive Tourism in India

On July 28 I will begin a four city workshop tour for travel professionals in India with Jani Nayar of SATH and Craig Grimes of Accessible Everything.

The first workshop will be in New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, Kochi, and finally Chennai. As Internet connectivity permits I will post travelogue entries along this tour sponsored by ASTA India.



Posted by rollingrains at 03:50 AM

June 10, 2008

Summary: Alaskan Travelogue

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." ~ Kenneth Grahame

Except maybe reflecting on it afterwards!

Below are links to each Rolling Rains post on exploring Glacier Bay, Alaska. Starting with:

Cruising in Alaska
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002267.html

It Would be Easier if…
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002269.html

Meet Annie Mae
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002270.html

Reporting from a Different Perspective
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002271.html


Journaling and Natural Beauty

http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002272.html

Food – the Key to Nautical Tranquility!
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002273.html

Photos from Glacier Bay
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002274.html

My First Kayak Trip ( or Ode to the McKinnon Hugger and Crew of the Sea Wolf!)
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002283.html

Return from Kayaking Glacier Bay, Glacier Bay, Alaska
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002282.html

Sound Sketch – Multisensory Travel to a Glacier
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002287.html

Transfers – Aboard and Abroad
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002289.html

Resources on Glacier Bay, Alaska
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002288.html

Why Go?
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002231.html

After Tourism Alaska – Ripples of Inclusive Destination Development
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002276.html

“This I Believe” by Colin Bates ( A Man Who has Discovered the Core value of Disability Culture – Interdependency )
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002276.html

Co-Dependent Arising: Retrospective on Wheelchair-Accessible Cruising
http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002290.html

Posted by rollingrains at 11:12 PM

Co-Dependent Arising: Retrospective on Wheelchair-Accessible Adventure Cruising

"The glory of God is humankind fully alive." ~ St. Irenaeus

As I hurriedly prepared for this trip an expected theme formed in my mind around the word "transfers." I anticipated movement from wheelchair to plane, plane to ship, ship to kayak and through it all movement further from daily patterns. What remains with me are still life vignettes and moments outlined against the movement of time. The transfers I recall in retrospect are more substantial than the simply physical.

Awe is the healthy human response to the expansive beauty of wilderness such as Glacier Bay, Alaska. It was evident in my shipmates aboard Sea Wolf. Curiosity, joy, gratitude, resolve, and camaraderie further marked the voyage as a time outside the ordinary.

This trip was the co-creation of all who set up the conditions for it to unfold. The foresight of Sea Wolf owner Kimber Owen who adapted the ship for wheelchair access set up the equalizing environment. The selection of wildlife-viewing sites was expert. The skill of the crew and the humanity of all who shared the trip made it easier to feel fully alive.

Even with huge grizzlies and powerful mountain goats, fluking whales and racing Dahl's Porpoises I leave holding onto the image a pair of hands that look like mine -- thin, curled, weak -- helping me put on a borrowed pair of gloves. What in another place appears only to be weak is what revealed the invincible resiliency of interdependence. Weakness exposed to weakness.

Awe is a healthy human response to a human fully alive. Disability is a medium of revelation. Glory in paradox.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:04 AM

June 04, 2008

After Touring Alaska - Ripples of Inclusive Destination Development


If my travelogue did not make it clear already let me compliment the arrangements made by Sherri Backstrom of Waypoint Yacht Charter Services in Bellingham Washington and the foresight and commitment shown by Kimber Owen, owner of the wheelchair-friendly Sea Wolf. Articles will appear in various publications. One went off to Sandra Vassallo at ebility.com in Australia this morning and two more are in process.

Pioneers like Kimber and Sherri shift cultures.

To get to the Sea Wolf ported in Gustavus, Alaska we flew in a six-seater prop bush flight from Juneau on Air Excursions. Not quite adept at accommodating passengers with mobility limitations the pilot's brute-force solution to not having the proper equipment landed me on the floor as I noted on May 24. They won't make many more mistakes like that -- and accessibility will improve for those who will increasingly come for early-season cruises on the Sea Wolf (i.e. after June 1 Alaska Airlines flies jets into Gustavus with a more polished passenger loading protocol.)

The night before the cruise we stayed at Annie Mae Lodge. The meal was sumptuous and the welcome was like family. The owners have built a stylish Alaskan lodge and given great detail to accessibility. My room had a roll-in shower. I can recommend Anni Mae. As our community provides them with business we will see the trend to inclusion spread to other venues including the towns single - but inaccessible - grocery store.

Alaska is on the "Must Visit List" of many travelers. To take the trip yourself contact:

Sherri Backstrom
Waypoint Yacht Charter Services
contact@waypointcharter.com

www.waypointcharter.com/accessible_travel.htm
t 888-491-2949 or 360-656-5934

Posted by rollingrains at 05:01 PM

June 02, 2008

Resources on Glacier Bay, Alaska

One of the disadvantages of traveling on short notice is the inability to research deeply into the history and offerings of a place before visiting it for the first time. For those are considering an accessible cruise in Glacier Bay here is a list of links on the natural history of the region:

Glacier Bay National Park
http://www.nps.gov/glba/


Explore-a-Park: Glacier Bay

http://www.glacierbay.org/

Alaska Magazine: Ancient Ice
http://www.alaskamagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=57&Itemid=36

Posted by rollingrains at 09:28 AM

June 01, 2008

Transfers -- Aboard and Abroad

All the activities, food, and conversation delayed me from exploring the two upper decks of Sea Wolf. The lift from the first to second deck is short -- just enough for me to fit.

The lift was definitely higher tech than the Alaskan Elevator in Elfin Cove!

And then sometimes the whole point was to not go anywhere at all!

Posted by rollingrains at 09:07 PM

May 31, 2008

Sound Sketch -- Multisensory Travel to a Glacier

The diesel motor rumbles vibrating the ship until we anchor. Even so, this expansive wildness is never silent.

At night we drop anchor. No silence here either. We are at the confluence of the three chutes of the 65 mile long "Y" that is Glacier Bay. The long narrow spaces surrounding us pulse with the sound of living glacier.

The sound signature of glacial motion comes with startling clarity and frequency to where we roll on the sea swells. Sound travels to us down three geologic auditory canals. Sounds are guided down every unobstructed valley and inlet to this place. They roll along the water's surface and sheer rock mountain corridors.

Night falls. We listen to the conversations of mountains from this centerpoint of a world disappearing.

Appropriate, perhaps, that glaciers retreating at a lightning pace -- the fastest glacial retreat in the world -- would produce the sound of thunder. "Sumdum" in Tlingit.

June 25, 2006

Mt Baker

Momma bear had a close eye on the twins as they peered at the human being rolling past today on Mt Baker at the northern end of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:31 PM | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

Mt Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier Inn has an accessible entrance. Narada Falls is best seen from the road due to inaccessibility. Further up the road Paradise offers a vista of the alpine surroundings and an accessible restaurant.

As at Crater Lake there is lots of reconstruction going on this summer. The lodge at Paradise is undergoing major renovation.

In spite of all the congestion a fox paraded through the parking lot and disappeared through a patch of Avalanche Lily (Erythronium).

Posted by rollingrains at 03:58 AM

June 19, 2006

Out to Lunch

One of the towns at the base of Mt. Rainier is Elbe, Washington.

A fun place to stop for a meal is the Mt. Rainier Railroad Restaurant. Right next door a whole caravan of cabooses make up the Hobo Inn. The restaurant is accessible by ramp. The cabooses did not appear to be.

The owner is the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad

Hobo Inn
54106 Mountain Highway East | P.O. Box 921, Elbe, Washington 98330

Posted by rollingrains at 11:19 PM

On the Oregon Trail

Westward Expansion was the phenomenon of settling the western United States -- and a major emphasis in the grade school curriculum of the educated in these western states. The Oregon Trail played a central role int heat era. Here is a park just outside Portland, Oregon dedicated to that piece of history.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:07 PM

June 18, 2006

Grant's Pass, Oregon

"Rascals" is the name of a booming computer support group by and for seniors in this charming town along the Rogue River. As a river runs through it the town has at least the start of Venice's alternate transportation system - but you might find a gondola's performance not to your liking in the white water. Kayaking is the sport here.

In town on business I flagged down a fellow in a three wheeled scooter navigating the surprisingly congested downtown maze. After checking in with various social service and voluteer groups like RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), and those savvy Rascals, I followed a lead on a residential development incorporating Universal Design.

For the past several decades Grant's Pass has had a reputation as a desirable place to retire. As the sign welcoming you into town reads, "It's the climate." I would have to add, from my multple experiences of stopping folks on the street to get directions, because my Prius' on-board GIS protested ignorance of the area, that its the people too. But design for people seems to be a hallmark of the town as well.

Spring Meadows is popping next to Spring Villages retirement center. The units have all the earmarks of Visitability and Universal Design - human-scale construction including flush front, rear, and garage entrances, an open floorplan, and other design considerations. If this project represents a broader consensus on UD in town then one might find rant's Pass a good choic for something longer than a summer weekend stay.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:58 PM

June 17, 2006

Crater Lake, Oregon

This is not the classic shot of the lake and its distinctive cinder cone island. Today the caldera walls and sweeping snowfields seemed especially photogenic.

Visitors note: Caldera Village is under construction this summer and is inaccessible to all.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:25 AM

June 16, 2006

Yes, but I Need a Roll-Out Shower, Too!

The Oakridge Inn Best Western Hotel has excellent wireless internet for guests and that's just the start of the service I received there.


Tamie, the manager, popped out of the office (slippers and all) so that I wouldn't have to unload the wheelchair and come in to check room availability. I was in luck. This ample non-smoking room was open.

With some more help from Tamie rearranging furniture to access the electircal outlet blocked by the media center cabinetry the night's rest was refreshing. What was not was to discover a three inch drop into the "roll-in" shower. Sorry folks, whoever designed that wheelchair trap needs to be taken out behind the shed for some learnin'.

When we say, "roll-in shower" we assume that the ability to roll back out is implied!

If you are in Oakridge, Oregon outside Eugene, traveling alone, and need a wheelchair accessible room I'd recommend rolling past this one until the shower is fixed. That recommendation comes with regrets because the service was so notable (and coming just to play with the "welcome cat" lolling around in the front office has itsown appeal.)

Posted by rollingrains at 04:29 PM

Meet Robert Menzies,TAB

Robert Menzies is an ethnobotanist. His specialty is psychopharmodynamics.

Iif you needed confirmation that he has a sense of humor look no farther than the fact that he has chosen to live in Weed, California. Yes, there really is a town named Weed. It sits at the base of Mount Shasta looking up at the mountain's snow covered top to the east -- wi th its occassional lenticular cloud looking like a jauntily place tam cap.

Robert's passion for native plants led to the creation of Menzie's Natives Nursery and thus my sidetrip to ask his expert help on growing California's native lilies. He is a fount of knowledge about more than flora. He has recently been reflecting on what it means to be a TAB (temporarily able bodied.)

When we spoke he had just returned from a month in China. There, along the border with Tibet, he was able to leave his cane and walk unaided. Working with traditional Chinese medical practitioners he was able to return once more to the ranks of the temporarily able bodied. His previous experience of several months in a wheelchair is going to change the layout of his nursery -- and further inform the work he does with California's state parks.

There is never a time when the pain, stigma, and discouragement of disability is something I wish for someone else. However, meeting someone like like Robert who has lived his disability well and distilled wisdom from it reminds me again why I find hope in disability.

Some people's lives prove what Susan Wendell wrote in The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability:

Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, 'normal,' and sane....If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.

Thank you, Robert for joining in the dialogue and adding to that knowledge for us all.

Posted by rollingrains at 06:52 AM

The Man with the Halo in Eureka, California

Jack wears the unmistakabe four-pointed bindi of those who have suffered excruciating pain.

I lost concenration as soon as I saw the four scars in his forehead. He was checking me into his Comfort Inn in Eureka, California but I wanted to know his story. If you have been around the disability community long enough you learn to recognize the marks from the screws set into the skull for holding a "halo" traction device.

I never had the chance to ask Jack just what part of India he came from but I did congratulate him. Too few who wear that particular badge of courage are fully ambulatory and without a permanent disability.

If ever you are in Eureka needing a place to stay look up Jack's Confort Inn. At every turn during my one night's stay I was double teamed whenever I had a need -- staff showing up at my car to help me get out, to carry my luggage, holding the room door open for me.

Oddly enough, when I mentioned the scars to the staff they had no idea what they were from. Apparently Jack models excellent service to his employees even without telling them his own personal brush with disability.

That's good leadership.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:46 AM

June 15, 2006

The Yurok Tribe


The Yurok people have a distinction not many can claim. Frequently someone will find huge Roosevelt elk in front of their homes!

My travels have been taking me all around Indian Country this year. Today was along the Klamath River in California and the home of the home of the Yurok. If anyone had asked, I suppose I could have told them, "Rekw-woy kee nue hey-gok" ( I'm going to Requa.) The hisoric Requa hotel is visible right off Highway 101 and offers a spectacular hillside view of the mouth of the Klamath River. On closer inspection I found no invitation built into into this inviting-looking place -- there were stairs in front and no apparent ramp or appropriate parking. Exclusion by design is a life limiting reality. Disabetes, and thus wheelchair use or amputation, has as a high incidence in Indian Country. Even to capture local tourism and dining customers, or to provide employment opportunities the travel & hospitality industry needs inclusion.

The flow of tourists stopping off to watch nature was constant. Clicking away to my right as I shot the placid elk herd above were three German college students. This little corner of the world, tucked away in northern California north of Orick, is only as inaccessible as bad design makes it.

Foregoing the commercial attractions I focused on the surroundings. The foxglove (digitalis) up the road at Big Lagoon was in bloom as were the Lilium columbianum further south in Del Norte county. Spring is late in this part of the world this year but still quite beautiful.

Posted by rollingrains at 08:42 AM

March 30, 2006

Fishing From the Cliffs of the Amalfi Coast

High above the surf - and I mean high, like several hundred feet - a small knot of anglers were wetting their lines over the edge of the (barely) two-lane Amalfi Highway. We had just crossed over a deep cleft in the rock where the bridge spanning it was the original Roman construction. We continued through a tunnel in the promontory that was blasted open as part of Mussolini's nationalization program when we came upon the group.

I have always enjoyed fishing - especially fly fishing using flies I have tied mayelf - one of the more active styles of fishing. I just might buy this gadget below for a day when I'm in the more sedentary mood necessary for baitcasting. But what I saw there along Italy's Amalfi coastline looked a little precarious than anything I've tried in a while.


I am not sure what they catch there - although I would wager that the long haul up from the water might make anything look like the dried fish in the market.

Anyway, I don't think I'd use the Wheelchair Fishing Pole Handler in that spot unless I knew my rope was tied off well and I had somebody sitting in belay position in case I caught anything heavier than an anchovy!

Posted by rollingrains at 04:33 PM

On Mercenary Blogging @ Zirma.com

Along with an endorsement of the Rolling Rains Report Zirma.com has a timely reflection on journalistic standards and the use and misuse of blogging.

Sponsored blogs and a conflict of interest

We could hypothesize that one of the reasons why many people read blogs is becase they find them more reliable. That is, they’re produced by common people, not professional journalists. In the travel area, newspapers supplements and magazine articles are not always quite believable. All of the destinations are beautiful and, apparently, the traveller never has greater problems. Facing this, bloggers stories, who generally travel as mere tourists to the destinations they visit and pay the ticket with their own money, are usually pretty different. No one treats them better, simply; they’re not journalists and no one knows they will write a note about that destination that will probably be read by thousands of people in the Internet.

But this is changing. For some months now, some tourism agencies in the United States have started to pay bloggers to make references to certain locations. The trend is strong enough to make journalist focus on it. For example, the newspaper USA Today dedicated a note to “sponsored bloggers” analyzing the cases of blogs that tell stories of travellers in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, but that are actually sponsored by the tourism offices of the place. The main problem is, at least in the case of Milwaukee, readers are not aware of the district’s “financial help”.

Source:
http://www.zirma.com/blog/tag/tourism-blogs/

Posted by rollingrains at 12:03 AM

March 29, 2006

An Exchange Student's Experience in Italy

Robin Smith reflects on an exchange program in Italy in "Observing Inclusive Education in Italy"

Her observations on travel as a person with a disability are worth quoting:


For people with disabilities, I would like to communicate about the interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of exchange programs. A handicap I experienced was the difficulty of establishing natural friendships and having peer interactions that were not influenced by my having been introduced to my fellow sojourners as a person in need of assistance. Although I had a wonderful time and made excellent connections with some of my companions, near the end of the trip people were tired and functioning on "one cylinder," which resulted in some awkward moments of isolation. I would recommend asking if it makes better sense, when traveling as the only person with a disability on such an excursion, to have at least one peer with whom you have a prior relationship and who is not the main person designated to assist you. This should not be read as a negative but only as a question to pursue as part of the quest to overcome some barriers built into the American culture. While I’d choose to have this experience again, I can't help but wonder if those moments would have been different if "the children had belonged together" when we were in elementary school.

Posted by rollingrains at 11:54 PM

March 28, 2006

Charming International Hotel - Napoli Airport

Yep, that is the name of it, the "Charming International Hotel," a three star hotel backed up against the Napoli Airport. Part of the Italy Hotel Club the place has a slighly ramped entrance and a well designed accesible room on the first floor. Right across from the room is a terrace with a view of the busy street.

The door to the accessible room is extra wide. Light switches are toggle and at mid chest for someone sitting in an adult wheelchair. The shower is roll-in although rather small. It has a grab bar but no fold-don shower bench. (It quickly rusts wheel bearings to shower in a wheelchair. I alwas carry two extra sets for situations like these.) The sink height is adjustable. The toilet functions as a combined bidet. It has a notch cut out of the front of the bowl wide enough for the hand-held shower on the wall which is within easy reach.

Internet access is free and the hotel staff is attentive. The concierge explained that his cousin who uses a wheelchair and travels has educated him. Bravo!

The Charming International Hotel serves our purposes well as a place to wash up and rest before the intercontinental endurance test begins at 6 AM tomorrow. It may serve well for the budget minded as a place to wash up and sleep off jet lag for a first night in the Naples area - but it is not convenient to the city for easy sightseeing.

The neighborhood is not inviting for an evening "passegiatta" but La Luciana pizza restaurant three doors to the left is a gem. It is a family run neigbrhood institution - kids & neighbors stopping in, pizza flying out the door for delivery via moped.

Thirty-one varieties of pizza show up one the wall menu - but I am sure you can order a custom creation. We had the house specialty - a "rolled pizza" with the local (water) buffalo milk mozzarela, arrugula, and local ham. The chewy crust comes out of the wood fired oven looking like a dalmation with black spots on white.

Three steps to get in but, like I said, plenty of neighbors around to flex some muscles and heft you in or out.

Mangia!

Posted by rollingrains at 11:37 AM

March 27, 2006

Positano, Amalfi, & Ravello

The trio that defines "doing the Amalfi Coast" Positano, Amalfi, and Positano are a challenge by wheelchair!


In Positano we made it as far down the steep streets to the "Residencia Gioia." It was never clear to me if this was the home of the Gioia who invented the compass and launched Amalfi into worldwide naval history because, sitting at the top of the stairs to the church plaza below, I attracted an energetic team of waiters. They were on the way down the hill past me to their afternoon shift at "Le Tre Sorrelli" Restaurant right on the beach. Needless to say, after a bit of trilingual negotiation (Italian, English, and an improvised hybrid with lavish hand gestures), so was I!

The day was warm and wonderful. It is pre-season for tourists so only one other table was occupied at the restaurant. Of course, one of the two people at that table was from San Jose, California - a graduate of Presentation High School.

Returning was another adventure. Threading the byways of Postitano are small flatbed electric trucks. The waiters flagged one down and we hitched a ride back up to the upper level along with some svelte manequins as yet to be outfitted with this year s latest style -- or maybe clothing optional is this year s latest tstyle here, too early inn the season to tell.

Amalfi allowed our driver, Alfredo, to drive us all the way down to the beach with a drop off in front of a great seafood resaurant in the cove. That left only a short time for a photo of the Gioia statute on the beach and a peek at the stunning enclosed plaza at the foot of the church.

In Ravello disability again had its benefits.

The medeival archway to the town plaza was barricaded to motorized traffic and guarded by the carabineiri. Alfredo got us through and we spent a few afternoon minutes enjoying the picturesque square.

By the way, my bout of Scrooge consciousness passed soon after Alfredo picked us up. He got an acceptable tip for his services. I expect he will use it to visit his finacee. She lives across the town street from us -- Los gatos, Caliofornia.

Piccolo mondo!

Posted by rollingrains at 03:39 PM

March 26, 2006

Design for Here in the Mezzogiorno - Capture the Sun!

I am on vacation. I don't need a brief case for a couple weeks. But if I did, I'd want one from Voltaic. With its three photovoltaic panels for recharging the Rolling Rains Report camera I could sure use a wheelchair bag version.

Maybe I'll talk to the Gucci artisans up the road and see what they can whip up for me.

On second thought, maybe I'll just go sip a Limoncello. Seems like as good an excuse as any to head across the bay to Capri...

Posted by rollingrains at 08:06 PM

March 25, 2006

Capri Across the Strait

Capri lies to the West, Naples to the North, and the skyline's dominant feature, Mount Vesuvius, to the Northeast across the Bay of Naples from here in the Grand Hotel Royal in Sorrento. Set right cliffside above its own private beach (elevator closed until May) the hotel commands an unforgettable view day or night. Built about 100 years ago and annually updated it has a venerable feel of comfortable grandeur the marble tiled lobby is full of laquered dark wood furniture embellished with the region's famous inlay work.

The first room we were assigned on the second floor while designated wheelchair accessible and with grab bars in the bathroom had a doorway far too narrow for my narrow adult manual chair. To their credit the porter quickly arranged for an upgrade to the third floor. This room, with a few adjustments like removing the bathroom door, can be made to work but lacks either a rolling shower or usable bathtub. If this is the best available at Grand Hotel Royal I cannot recommend it based on accessbility to many with disabilities - especially if travelling alone. However, the level of customer service may make it right for the resilient and physically strong.

The owners of the Grand Royal and its siblings, the Maniello Hotels, we8re apparently told by Thompson travel agencyin the UK that they must adopt universal diesign or lose the steay stream of tourists booked through Thompson. To all appearances the owners have opted for obsolesence.

Today we are off to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello by private tour. Note again, the agent tacked an extra ten Euro over the published price when they saw the wheelchair. Nowhere near as much as I would have tipped them on my own for an eight hour tour but certainly all they will likely receive after that slight of hand.

Posted by rollingrains at 01:49 PM

March 23, 2006

Mushroom Weather on Capri

Vladimir, my taxi driver to the airport on the start of the trip taught me two things.

First, that the idiom "raining cats & dogs" translates as nonsense into Russian (but he was able to tell me the history of the English origins of the phrase.)

Second, that when it "rains cats & dogs" on an otherwise warm & sunny day it is called "mushroom weather" in Russian. Mushrooms do well is warm dampness.

So today we experienced the "mushroom!s dream tour" of Capri.

Leaving Naples from the old Carmine Fort via hydrofoil for Capri we had partial sun amidst sprinkles. Waiting for the return boat we huddled in the front of a small resaurant admiring the lightning.

The first thing to do arriving in capril is to get up onto the northern plateau at Anacapri. With a wheelchair it will cost you whatever the whim of the taxi driver (no accessible busses) cares to charge you. That is 20 - 25 Euros today.

Fortunately, the narrow sidewalk/streets in this charming hilltop village are wheelchair navegable. Although not all shops are accessible none are very large and you can count on attentive shopkeepers to cater to your needs on the street if show the internationally recognizable signs of being a paying customer.

Worth the walk is a trip out to the cliffhanging walkway outside the Villa San Michele estate (now museum) of Axel Munthe.

Posted by rollingrains at 02:11 PM

March 22, 2006

Just the Other Side of the Alps

In an acute case of "the grass is greener on the other side" I find myself looking beyond Italy to the travel possibilities of Germany. The German barrier free tourism site has become quite a good resouce for English speakers with further links in German to National Tourism Coordination Agency for All PeopleFederal Association for the Disabled

Posted by rollingrains at 11:27 PM

March 19, 2006

Offtrack in Naples

My Amtrak trek through Calofornia has me looking ahead to Italy - even as I spend the day in the sky today & tomorrow.

Life would be easier all Italian trains were accessible. (OK, being on time would help too.) I am told that Italy's high speed trains are exemplary for accessibility - and narrow gauge rolling stock is beyond hope.

Once you get inside, comfort and safety become important.

One of the companies most involved in efforts to improve safety for wheelchair passengers is Q'Straint, United States. It is working with Swedish operator SJ on a project that will provide wheelchair-seated passengers with the same degree of safety as other seated passengers.


from: Wheelchair safety gains: while seats on trains are firmly held in place, there is often little protection for wheelchair passengers. Drawing on bus industry experience, one company is now offering a solution that could transform the experience of wheelchair users.(Accesibility) by Roden, Andrew

source: International Railway Journal, January 1, 2006.

via: HighBeam™ Research

COPYRIGHT 2006 Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Posted by rollingrains at 11:43 PM

March 18, 2006

Planning For a Naples Tour

Slow Travel isn't a site about those of us with mobility impairments but it does feature the insights of a few travelers who have discovered what we all know -- that a vacation is not meant to be a sprint. Severeal hundred travelers have recounted their stories at the site. You can read them at your leisure here: http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/default.asp

I have been perusing the site for insights into Italy - specifically the Bay of Naples and south along the Amalfi Coast for the next Rolling Rains travelogue. Sorrento will be our basecamp for "concentric circles" of travel at a leisurely pace. And no, I do not intend to rappel through the hillside retreats of Positano and Ravello.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:03 PM

March 17, 2006

Goldilocks Loves Universal Design; Reads Danielle Steel

The last time I wrote about hotel beds I received hearty encouragement from Eleanor Smith, founder of the Visitability initiative. My search for the "just right" bed will never have the worldwide impact of Visitability. In fact, it may put a few people to sleep. But that's not a bad thing.

Many who travel using wheelchairs or with parents having mobility difficulties have lamented the trend toward "skyscraper beds." These extra high beds may make for enticing promotional photos with their long legs and impressive display of mattress-top quilting and padding. Short of installing step ladders for entry or taking a flying leap to mount them they remain out of reach for many.

The Marriott Suites Hotel in Anaheim, California has hit the "Goldilocks Zone" with more than its sensible height bed in Room 1401.

I chose this accessible room for the tub rather than the roll-in shower which inevitably rusts out my wheelchair bearings after about three days of use. The sitting room is ample and entry is smooth with a low friction carpet. The simple love seat is appropriately high and has firm enough cushions to work well for a transfer. An efficient tableserves as a desk with easy to reach lamp switch, wall outlets, and DSL cable. Someone was thinking "practicality & comfort" in this room.

Goldilocks would approve of the bedroom. The hotel's designers have not succumbed to the Viagra-era compulsion to add a few inches to everything in the bedroom. Envision the bed, for example.

Adding firmness where it counts the reinforced mattress edge guard doesn't disappoint with a limp sag as you move into position for a transfer. Rather than the "look but do not touch" stance of the currently trendy stage-high beds Marriott offers a voluptuous profile. The ample breadth practically heaves under the weight of not one but three pairs of pillows. Sneaking a first peek in through the doorway the whole room seems to ask, "What were you doing out there that was so important anyway?"

Cold showers available in the adjoining bathroom.

Posted by rollingrains at 09:11 PM

March 16, 2006

Turn Your Back on Pismo Beach

No, that's not the title of the internal memo written by the lobbyists who succeeded in allowing offshore drilling out the front windows of these multimillion dollar bungalows.

Literally look inland to the East as from Pismo Beach and take in the mountains.

Coming South on 101 I roused myself from a nap just before Pismo Beach to see the rugged hillsides. If you read rocks the sight is nothing short of terrifying. The tremendous tectonic forces that shattered the earth's crust here make witnessing Mt. St. Helens blow itself to oblivion seem inconsequential. These hills are the remnants of horizontal layers of rock pushed fractured like peanut brittle and thrust vertically into the blue sky.

When the shudder of recognition settled I was left humbled and in awe.

Posted by rollingrains at 04:33 PM

Oh, The Woes of Amtrak Travel...

Actually, it wasn't a bad as I feared (which says something already, doesn't it?)

The Coast Starliner mini-suite that I reserved for the San Jose to Anaheim, California trip never materialized. More to the point, the train itself never materialized. It was six hours behind schedule when I arrived a comfortable one hour before boarding time.

Yes, it appears that I am fated to begin my vacation experience early. I seem to have landed in Italian time even while still here in California trying to make it to the 2006 NCOA/ASA Conference. I have adopted "Romanitas" - the state of being that allows one to maintain equanimity in the face of simple tasks as they drag on to take millenia.

Robert, the quick thinking but Amtrak-speed acting ticketing agent at the station, got me safely onto the Amtrak bus. The driver took up my offer to me carried up the front stairs giving me a gorgeous view of California's early spring green along Highway 101. The driver offered to buy whatever I needed at the several stops along the 6+ hour excursion ending in Santa Barabara.

At Santa Barbara I caught the commuter Amtrak (no mini-suites) to Anaheim arriving two hours earlier than if I had taken the train I was originally scheduled for. (I never try to figure out the logic of train schedules. I satisfy my temptations to do so by convincing myself that trains operate in a parallel universe with different rules of time & physics.)

The Santa Barbara station is small, charming and retrofitted with short ramps in two of the front doors if you can find them.The lobby even has an old fireplace that appears to have long ago fallen out of use. For those needing to recharge a wheelchair there is a publicly accessible outlet -- sort of. Ask at the ticket counter for access to the outlet in the side room next to the men's bathroom. With enough layover time a trip to the Boardwalk is a must.

Unfortunately, the "wheelchair spaces" on this train were without windows. It hardly mattered. All the windows were dirty anyway.

Я сейчас ее убью. Сзади щелкнул взведенный курок «беретты». - Отпусти ее, - раздался ровный, холодный голос Стратмора. - Коммандер! - из последних сил позвала Сьюзан. Хейл развернул Сьюзан в ту сторону, откуда слышался голос Стратмора.

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