My name is Jay and I come from Nigeria, but moved to the city of London at the tender age of five. Unfortunately for me, I contracted polio before my first birthday, and have had to cope with the realities of living life with a permanent disability. I have always believed in looking on the bright side of life. Polio used to be known as the baby killer, so while my disability will be with me for life, it could have been much worse. Unlike others that become disabled through accidents or the ageing process, I have had the opportunity to grow up with polio. And it is because of this that I never felt that I was missing out on anything, because I had absolutely nothing else to compare it to, this has always been my life.
For those that live in big cities, and even smaller towns and villages, I am sure you are familiar with the issues that you can face in terms of accessibility. While changes are being made to the landscape to ensure that travel is inclusive of everyone, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. In the meantime, there are still quite a lot of things that can be enjoyed by the less mobile, like myself. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and this has never been more evident than in the world of accessible travel. The tourism industry is a business, first and foremost. The more opportunities they have to make money, the likelier it is that they will adapt to the needs of the market.
Having spent most of my life in the Big Smoke, I know firsthand how London has become more accessible and welcoming of the less able. The Visit London website has a dedicated section that provides a wealth of information about the many attractions, hotels and activities that are accessible. It is a fantastic resource for those looking to spend some time in the capital. For those looking to see more of the UK and not just the big city, The National Trust has attractions across the length and breadth of this beautiful island. They also have access information on their website that would be useful for those looking to plan their future trips. What is great about The National Trust is that visitors with disabilities are able to have their carer or companion accompany them, free of charge. The Trust also have a card called the “Access for all Admit One Card” that may be ordered via email or telephone. This saves you having to request a free pass each time. The details are provided on the previous link.
One of my hobbies is finding incredibly great deals on flights and travelling to far flung places and experiencing all that this planet has to offer. With so much of the world to see, and the world getting smaller day by day, the possibilities only keep increasing for everyone. Early last year, I had the pleasure of travelling around Brasil for a month. As this was just before the opening of the Olympic Games, it was reassuring to see how many sightseeing spots had advertised their accessibility in Rio. I saw first-hand the work that had gone into making the public transportation more accessible for all.
As I mentioned before, if there is money to be made, the industry will adapt. While it will not always be perfect, and there will be some hiccups along the way. There has truly never been a better time than right now to travel the globe, and see the sights with a disability. And it will only get better.