Learn all about how you can travel smartly with mobility this holiday season.
Traveling has always been an option for people through various modes of transportation, such as trains, planes, cars, buses, and public transit. In order to travel smartly with mobility, we must first understand what are the things that often stand in the way. Let’s talk about some of the common accessibility challenges for individuals with mobility needs when traveling.
Facilities around the world are required by law to meet local accessibility standards; however, not all the latest standards meet the actual needs of mobility users sufficiently. While some hotels and motels have wheelchair accessible rooms and bathrooms, as well as accessible parking spaces and entrances, other accommodations may be overlooked. Examples include visual cues for texture, depth, inclination, and elevation changes. Some facilities may lack updated accommodation and inclusion standards, such as wheelchair ramps, elevators, universal signage, or alternative methods of communications (Braille, voice commands, etc.). Refer to reviews, ratings, and pictures of the facilities as second opinions when selecting for the most inclusive facilities to visit.
Mobility traveler-friendly traveling methods:
The mode of transportation itself may pose barriers for individuals who use wheelchairs. Airlines may mishandle wheelchairs, leading to damage. Narrow spaces, like tunnels and tubes from the platform to the plane during boarding and vice versa, can be hard to navigate.
Most traditional escalators are not designed for wheelchair drivers to self navigate. Trips and falls on those escalators are be extremely dangerous. Always use the elevator if possible. And be extremely cautious with taking the escalators in wheelchairs. For even when it seems like the escalators are just wide enough for the device to fit, always remember that your device needs enough leeway to move around as it enters a surface in constant motion.
Restrooms on trains and airplanes may require navigating through narrow hallways and have too tight of a space inside for mobility users to move around. Wide-body airplanes tend to be a better option accessibility-wise since they provide more toilet and aisle spaces. Some airlines also have more accommodations than others. Uniform airport designs that lack in accessible signage can also make restroom identification difficult. Navigating crowded areas to reach restrooms can also be challenging.
Mobility device arrangements during travel:
Similar to baggage and luggage, mobility devices need to be stored with care for proper protection when in transit. In fact, scratches and bumps to mobility devices can easily cause more serious function-related damages that can singlehandedly hinder the rest of the trip. Avoiding unwanted surprises, make sure you are aware of the best storage option for your devices in transit as well as the related local regulations ahead of boarding time to make the necessary arrangements for assistance. Consider using tagging technology (e.g. AirTag) to help track your mobility device in the event that it is lost or misplaced in transit.
Emergency exits and evacuation routes can be hard to find in large busy places like airports and train stations. Individual mobility users can face difficulties accessing oxygen masks and inflatable slides during emergencies. Consider traveling during less crowded hours or days for less hassled environments.
Travel smartly with mobility:
- Plan in advance: Contact the transit companies for more accessibility-related information so you can make more informed choices on which airline/train/bus to book tickets from.
- Label Appropriately: Label mobility devices and associated adaptive devices for careful handling. Use bright colors for attention.
- Track your device: Tracking technology can help with locating lost or misplaced mobility devices.
- Arrive Earlier: Arriving early is always a good choice when traveling. It gives you more time to navigate the check-ins and baggage areas with ease.
- Legislation and Rights: Google local traveling legislation on accessibility and visitor’s rights. Remember to take photos/videos to document the devices’ condition before checking your devices in with third party caretakers during transit.
The above solutions for individual mobility users alone are not sufficient. We firmly believe in the transformative power of collective change. We need to raise awareness of the above challenges faced by mobility travelers nowadays so that everyone can understand the crucial role accessibility plays in making essential transit facilities truly inclusive around the world.Read More
As the snow begins to fly, and holiday music is playing on every radio station, there is no avoiding that the holidays are here! We have made a holiday gift guide with the perfect gifts for your friends & family who use a wheelchair. Keep them safe and happy this holiday season with Braze Mobility’s accessible holiday gifting guide!
We have not tested these products for their usability, and advise that you do due diligence before purchase.
- Access Masks ($21 CAD)
These face masks made by the Como foundation, make communication accessible to all through the use of a window in the face shield. This allows for easy lip reading for the hard of hearing, and can help people with speech difficulties communicate all while staying safe behind a mask. The fun colours and designs mean you can choose the perfect mask for your friend or loved one, and maybe for yourself as well to make the world a little more accessible!
- Fun seat covers ($48 USD)
This website offers lots of wheelchair cushion covers in fun designs- with over 20 fabrics to choose from you can find the perfect one for a gift! The website custom makes them to fit any wheelchair, or if you are feeling crafty you could visit your local fabric store and make your own!
- Light up wheels ($39 USD)
These castor wheels are self-powered (meaning no need for battery replacements!) and will make a disco-party wherever you and your friend go! They come in a variety of sizes on the website.
- The Braze Sentina
The Braze Sentina is a blind spot sensor system that can turn any wheelchair into a “smart” wheelchair. These add-on devices easily attach to any wheelchair and offer visual, audio, and vibrational feedback to wheelchair users regarding the location and proximity of obstacles. They provide the freedom of improved maneuverability, increased spatial awareness, and increased safety.
- Umbrella holder ($17 CAD)
Depending on where you live, it’s hard to escape the rain. Even harder is having enough hands to steer/propel a wheelchair and hold an umbrella! With the gift of this umbrella holder, every time your friend or relative stays dry in the rain, they will think of you and your awesome gifting skills!
Do you have any other accessibility gift ideas that you think would make someone’s holiday? Let us know in the comments!
From all of us at Braze Mobility, have a very safe and happy holiday season!Read More
The temperatures are falling, and Christmas music is being played on repeat. This can only mean one thing-the holiday season is upon us, and with it, the pressure to find the perfect gift is building. Everyone is in pursuit of the perfect gift for their family members and friends-something that is fun, useful and shows how much they care. Easier said than done! Below is a list of accessible gifts, perfect for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
Give the gift of cozy ears, and hands free mobile device control. Voice controlled bluetooth technology, built-in speaker and microphone all in a fashionable and warm hat. Various designs available on Amazon.com and the pictured hat is available at Robot Shop.
The Braze Sentina is a blind spot sensor system that can turn any wheelchair into a ‘smart’ wheelchair (cars have sensors, why can’t wheelchairs?!).
Benefits of Braze’s Blind Spot Sensors
These add-on devices are the first in the world that easily attach to any wheelchair and offer visual, audio, and vibrational feedback to wheelchair users regarding location and proximity of obstacles. They provide the freedom of improved maneuverability, increased spatial awareness, and increased safety.
These products have been available for purchase mainly by institutions, but anyone in Canada or the U.S. can now get the Braze Sentina. Contact us to find out more about this innovation solution for people who use wheelchairs!
Chairmelotte designs wheelchair couture, specifically designed to be comfortable and fashionable. Check out the Evening Collection and find the perfect outfit to work on New Year’s Eve! Available at Chair melotte. (Pictured: Dress Sophia, €248.00; Coat Roger, €565.00)
Having cold hands is never fun, but driving a wheelchair with cold hands is worse. This device protects hands from the cold, and allows the user to still have the control and visibility they need. It also protects the control panel from snow! A less bulky alternative could be tight fitting gloves. If you are feeling crafty, a similar design could be made with crochet or knitting skills. Available at Active Mobility Centre.
Homemade gifts are a great option, and truly show that you care. It also makes the gift customizable, and lets you show off your skills! This design for a water bottle holder is a quick, easy and practical gift. Available at Sew Can Do.
For those feeling less crafty, Etsy has some different designs for bottle holders, and sidebags, with a variety of different designs.
No holiday is complete without adding to one’s cozy sock collection, and for people with limited lower body mobility, cozy socks are essential to keeping feet warm. Canada’s Indigo sells many designs of reading socks, that keep feet and legs warm.
Sock Alternatives: Slippers or Leg Warmers
For people who may find it difficult to get long socks on, check out these slippers from Egli Farm, or a leg warmer designed for wheelchair users!
This speaker provides hands-free control of smart appliances. It can also control the lights, and heating in your house- all handsfree! Plus, the google assistant can book appointments, set alarms, Google things for you and play music! This is the perfect device for someone who has limited upper body mobility, giving them hands-free control of the house! Available at the Google Store.
Hands-free technology doesn’t have to be left behind when your friend/family member leaves their Google home system at home! The Tecla Shield connects with smart devices, providing hands-free control anywhere you go! Check it out at Adaptive Switch Laboratories (ASL).
As the days get shorter, a flashlight becomes more and more handy- no one can navigate in the dark! Pair this flashlight up with the Braze Sentina (gift #2) for the ultimate safe driving gift! This flashlight available on Amazon is designed to attach to mobility devices. Flashlight available on Amazon.
Don’t let a curb stand in the way of your plans! The world is slowly becoming more accessible, and apps like Accessnow can be used to find accessible hang outs. Unfortunately accessibility still has a long way to go. Bringing a ramp can help reduce the barriers faced during your adventures! Available at Wheelchair Friendly Solutions.
Looking for more Accessible Gift Ideas?
Thank you for reading about all of these gift ideas. Looking for more? Check out our birthday gift ideas here! Have any other suggestions? Please comment below! Have a very happy holiday!Read More