Disabled cruise enthusiasts tired of missing out on inaccessible shore excursions have a slew of new reasons to be excited thanks to MSC Cruises. The Switzerland-based cruise giant announced a series of custom, accessible excursions designed specifically for people with mobility-related disabilities.
“This program is unique because for the first time we offer accessible tours available in both popular cruise regions of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean,” says Jean-Pierre Joubert, MSC Cruises’ head of shore excursions. “By joining these tours, all guests will have the carefree opportunity of enjoying the best of every excursion.”
The new excursions will include 11 ports in the Caribbean and nine in the Mediterranean. John Sage, the CEO and founder of Accessible Travel Solutions, says the offerings will make booking easier and more affordable for travelers with disabilities. “This is going to be great for disabled travelers since they can now book their accessible shore excursions through this cruise line and split the cost of the accessible van with other guests,” he says.
Resource: Facing Disability’s Voices of Experience Series
Anyone looking for answers or new to SCI/D will benefit from FacingDisability.com’s new Voices of Experience series. In each of the 10-15 minute-long videos, long-time wheelers share their answers to a common post-SCI question. A focus group of SCI team members at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab reviewed and refined the final list of questions. The series was created for distribution on the in-hospital TV networks of the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems hospitals and online. Watch these 10 new videos at facingdisability.com/voices-of-experience-videos.
December’s United on Wheels podcast is full of faces familiar to NM readers, as frequent contributor Brook McCall hosts a discussion about The Power of Art with “Reframed” creator Reveca Torres and artist Wes Holloway. “people will enjoy learning about how their art has been affected by their injuries and how they’ve evolved as artists — not only how they create, but what subjects they explore,” says McCall. Listen at unitedonwheels.blubrry.net.
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector
On January 10, NBC rolls out the latest take on Jeffery Deaver’s 1997 novel The Bone Collector, featuring ace detective Lincoln Rhyme trying to catch the eponymous villain while coping with his new life as a quadriplegic. Russell Hornsby (from the TV series Grimm) tries to fill the wheels (and bed) Denzel Washington inhabited in the 1999 film.
ICYMI: TravelAbility Summit
Over 100 representatives from across the travel industry and the world of disability met at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco November 11-13 for the TravelAbility Summit, a first-of-its-kind conference dedicated to improving travel experiences for people with disabilities. The three-day event kicked off with a Monday session highlighting accessibility-related travel products and services, and finished with two full days of presentations, panels and breakout sessions covering everything from specific destinations to accessibility training.
“While I felt that connecting assistive technology and tourism professions with thought leaders in the disability travel community would create a unique synergy, I was surprised that so many of them were inspired to spring into action so soon after the event and spread the word among their peers in other destinations that they had discovered a growing niche that added a new and meaningful purpose to their jobs,” says founder Jake Steinman. Next year’s Summit will take place
in Orlando. For details visit, travelabilitysummit.com.
Reclaiming Disability Imagery
Disabled and Here is a collection of photos and interviews made by and featuring disabled people from underrepresented communities aimed at changing the narrative around disability and creating representation from within. The photos are free for public use and accompanied by insightful interviews with many of the people featured. Check out the photos and find out more at affecttheverb.com/disabledandhere.
Affordable All-Terrain Access
Ben Huntzinger has been driven by a simple goal since he was paralyzed in 2009. “Everybody should be able to go and buy a good all-terrain wheelchair just like you can go buy a mountain bike,” says the 33-year-old college student.
An outdoor enthusiast, Huntzinger, a T4 paraplegic, wanted to be able to take his dog to the river and not have to sit idly on the banks. He wanted the ability to barrel over gravel and rocks and get out in the water in his chair. This May, his dream became a reality when he started selling the Spartan Wheel Chariot — a rugged all-terrain chair he designed, manufactures and sells for the remarkably low price of $500.
Huntzinger taught himself to weld and bend conduit on the tailgate of his truck and eventually went back to school to learn the skills he needed to transform his dream into a business and a reality. Over the course of eight years, his design evolved from an old wheelchair with a downhill skateboard axle mounted under the footplate to an award-winning conduit frame with four-link rear suspension, 10-by-3-inch front tires and Spinergy rear wheels with knobby Kenda Nevegal tires.
He used the prize money from an innovation contest sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to buy the parts in bulk and keep the cost down. Affordability was always at the fore. “Think about the difference we can make in the spinal cord community when everybody has a chair that they can use just for the outdoors,” he says. Order or find out more at spartanwheelchariots.com.