Travel is for everyone. Let's make it inclusive for all visitors.
For people like Angela Wilson, Founder and CEO of Exploryst, local, domestic, and international travel helped her uncover who she is. Now, she's ensuring that the more than 2 billion people around the world, within the spectrum of disability, can have positive travel experiences. Exploryst is the first travel planning website where essential details are supplied for this community, which requires more information than is provided on standard travel sites.
The majority of Aurora's restaurants, hotels, and attractions meet the federal standard for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) friendly. However, being ADA compliant does not guaranty that the rest of the property or activity is accessible in other disability aspects. It only provides one small piece of the puzzle most travelers need because the physicality of disability is the primary focus.
For example, travelers with low vision have different needs as someone who is using a cane. Exploryst is compiling the required details of hospitality and tourism industry businesses to make it easier for all travelers, by requesting those specifics or visiting the locations herself. For example, is there audio accompaniment within the museum tour? Is the trail paved? What size restrooms are available and are the grab bars appropriate? Are braille menus available?
Angela Wilson: Businesses within the hospitality and tourism industries usually define accessible only as “wheelchair accessible.” Since those individuals only represent about 3% of the disability community, the word “accessible” needs to be redefined.
When looking at physical accessibility, the strictest definition is wheelchair accessible (ADA compliance). Of course, not everyone with physical disabilities needs that strict definition, which encompasses only paved routes. Nowadays, there are so many different types of wheeled devices and depending on the skill set of the user, a paved route listed might be too restrictive for most, especially outdoors.
Mild activities are things to do that can be completed by families with young toddlers, anyone new to exercise, a history of joint pain, arthritis or chronic pain, injuries, less substantial disabilities, etc. These include bus tours, neighborhood tours with minor uneven ground, trails with minimal rocks and tree roots, some uneven terrain, etc.
The final mobility definition is moderate activities, which may be activities with several flights of stairs, bike rides, whitewater rafting, trails with some rocks and tree roots, uneven terrain, and actions requiring more endurance and stamina.
Other slices of the larger spectrum of disability include deaf/hard of hearing, blind/low vision, or low sensory, to name a few. Like anything else, accessibility and disability are fluid. Everyone has different needs for travel, so your business may be able to offer services and accommodation for much more of the disability pie than currently thought.
Angela Wilson: The requirements of individuals are vast within the disability population. Do not think that just because your business cannot adhere to the strict definition of the ADA, you cannot become more inclusive. There are other ways to be “accessible enough” for the 1.4 million Colorado residents and the 84+ million US residents within the spectrum of disability.
Some of the initial actions could be to sit in a chair in different parts of your hotel or event space and see how they are navigated. Next would be to close your eyes and take the route. Then, cover your ears and take the same route. You will be very surprised what people with just those three disability factors face in the world every day.
Aurora’s businesses, hotels, attractions, restaurants, and more are welcome to add their listing free listing to Exploryst.com
*this is not a complete list of every inclusive attraction or things to do
A walking or driving tour of Aurora's newest mural collection in the Aurora Cultural Arts District (ACAD). The experience also comes with a free audio tour for visitors to use on the walking or driving tour. A map also guides visitors along the route. There is free ADA parking at the People's Building (some curbs might be in place to access some murals).
Full-scale inclusive playground for wheelchair users and mild/moderate travelers. There are swings, spinners, instruments, playground equipment, and ADA bathrooms. In total, there are more than 8,000 sq. ft. of play area for everyone to enjoy.
An aviation factory-turned marketplace, Stanley has a wide range of activities for everyone to participate in. There are three different entrances to help visitors get to their destination quicker, elevators, lots of seating, accessible bathrooms, concrete floors, indoor/outdoor gathering space, high & low top tables. (limited vision and hearing add ons)
Colorado's largest resort and convention center has on-site activities and an accessible water park with splash pads, an outdoor lazy river, hot tubs, indoor water features, and slides. Families can also explore their things to do page on their website for seasonal events.
Explore community-focused events perfect for wheelchair users and mild/moderate travelers. Held in the central courtyard, watch live performances, snap pictures at photo booths or get a little last-minute shopping done. Check out their website for more information.