A New Leap in Accessible Tourism

Each time I see a new article or anything that relates to accessible tourism, I stop to realize that it needs to improve in places that are not limited to hotels and restaurants. After reading about the Wheel the World company mentioned in the article about making Machu Picchu and accessible location, I googled the website for the company to see what else they had made accessible.

The website has a lot of very useful information about the trips and they are honest about the level of accessibility. I thought this was important to add because the hotel rooms they would stay in all have a tub shower… I found that to be a little bit strange based on the fact that the company is mainly focused on people who have mobility disabilities. After seeing there were videos about their trips I wanted to watch and see if they would show any of the rooms, but once I had seen about 8 minutes of this video I realized maybe I should stop and think. The fact that people with disabilities now have the opportunity to experience these amazing places is phenomenal. They deserve the same sense of inclusion when traveling and making sure that ANYONE can feel that at your establishment/location should be necessary.

Video from the “Flagship” adventure that launched the company.


Is it time we shift our focuses from Disability Awareness to Disability Acceptance?

As I was scanning through articles online and thinking about what I should write this post on, I stumbled across an article called “20 ways to Teach Non-disabled Kids about their Disabled Peers”. The title caught my eye because I immediately thought it could have be said in a different way but I decided to have a look anyway.

The article was written by a parent who does not have a child with disability, yet noticed the importance of teaching children about people with disabilities. Immediately I tried to remember things that my teachers and parents said to me when I was young and curious. The one thing that came to my mind is that they always told me “He/She is special and different”; but the conversation always had to end at that point when the person telling me seemed uncomfortable. It seemed like I was being taught to see the person with disabilities and understand that they need extra help that abled-body people may not. Knowing everything that we have learned through this semester I wish I could go back and tell my parents that this it SO important to acknowledge your child’s curiosity and let them explore it.

Let’s move past awareness…is there anyone who is not aware that autism exists, or that there are children and adults living with either disease or disability? We don’t just want you aware….we want to be accepted and included. And inclusion means contributing! Not just passively watching, participating.

The quote above is from the article and it resonated with me because I honestly think the majority of people believe they do what needs to be done for this group of people. After hearing first hand stories from Brett and seeing this quote, I realized that there is so much more to be done in order to accept these people. We can start the education process for acceptance when kids are young so that they have a positive view/source of information from the start. Teaching kids early on would create a huge ripple effect in my opinion. They are young and are more likely to call out something that they hear and think is not right. Helping them learn the correct language could inspire elders in their own family to take a step back and see if they are as inclusive to people with disabilities as they think they are.

The mother who wrote the article shared that she reached out to her son’s preschool to see if they could teach the kids simple, respectful ways to be inclusive of everyone. They agreed to teach an entire unit on it and push the importance of inclusivity in every way. This is what it means to contribute to the movement of something that is very long overdue. We need to start transitioning from “Is this accessible?” to “Is this universally accessible to people with different disabilities?”

Inclusion; Future for the Beauty Industry

The Beauty Industry is a massively growing influence in the advertisements that we see every day. Society has shifted to see a huge “self-love” era emerge that focuses on us taking care of our own bodies. In my opinion, this shift in motive is to not stand out above anyone else, but to make sure everyone feels included and equally represented. After watching the 2018 Report on Advertising and Disability, I sat back and thought how I have shifted my brand loyalty over to these brands because of the drive they take to include everyone in the market.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Clothing Campaign

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive was one of the campaign’s that I recalled seeing when it was first revealed. Until then I had never realized that something so easy to some, will turn out challenging for someone else who is different. The clothing line includes many adaptive pieces that are not specific to one disability. The advertisement marketed very clearly that needing the adaptive clothing is not a set back, and that this is going to become a normal for the market.

Cat and Jack, a Target kid’s clothing line, also created an adaptive line of clothing. It is only for children and babies, but they have specially designed clothing for certain disabilities. In the video below, you can see my favorite item they created which is the shirt design for places to give abdominal access.

At the beginning of the blog I mentioned that I have also noticed my brand preference has shifted because of new marketing campaigns for certain companies. The biggest brand switch I decided to make was to end my time shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Growing up I always seemed to prefer buying things there probably because I thought it was “cool”. When I saw the Aerie Real campaign, I made a decision to begin spending money at Aerie. They launched the Aerie Real campaign to celebrate body positivity. I notice brands now have expanded to be more inclusive, but Aerie also wanted to show off people who have disabilities. It really made me realize that I needed to support the kind of businesses that empower us instead of the opposite. To lead the campaign they enlisted the women in the picture below who represented so many great types of people.

“I think people who before felt ostracized are now being made to feel comfortable,” she said. “Actually, I love that. It helps people see things from a different perspective.” -Zarielle Washington



Diversity in Real Life

When I was growing up, I never understood the true meaning of diversity. The lessons I learned in school were always very vague and short because the town has a majority white population. Since moving to Knoxville I have been trying to educate myself better on the true meaning of diversity. The focus of the topic had always been to accept people of all ethnicities; but what about all the others who are diverse in a way other than that? No one seemed willing to open and talk about other ways because they were all deemed as a bad thing.

Diversity has changed tremendously over the past years; but what also needs to change is inclusion. How can we not only show people that we want to have them in the group and make sure they do not feel uncomfortable? I never had to think about things like this in my workplaces; but now I see how small tasks would have unnecessary challenges. Thinking back to a job I had in Pigeon Forge, it was very common for me to sell tickets to the show from the booth nearest the handicap ramp. There was usually 2-5 guests each show that would require to use the ramp and most would have a difficult time because it was too steep. I always felt as if we should be doing something to try to help/improve the situation because it was unfair. Although I had brought up the issue to a manager, they told me that it was just something people had to work with and there was nothing that they could do. This was a response I could’ve expected at that time, but now since gaining a deeper understanding I can say I would have wanted to look into the problem more.

The steps we can take to help could be start by educating the workforce better in the sense of all types of diversity and inclusion. Setting the culture there first would then help improve the customer experience too. Everyday you can create an opportunity for employees to be empowered in their workplace and want to spend time figuring out how the business could best include everyone.