Tropical Accessibility

There are many things I thought I would never see happen for wheelchair users that I turned out to be wrong about…

  • I never thought skiing would be wheelchair accessible, but it is.
  • I never thought African safaris would be wheelchair accessible, but they are.
  • But what I REALLY never thought would happen: wheelchair accessible eco-tourism. I am once again blissfully wrong!

Brazil has put effort into Accessible Tourism programs. These don’t just let you look at the amazing landscapes from afar, but actually engage in nature!

Different communities are making changes to vastly improve accessibility to nature. Now there are a wide variety of locations and activities disabled travelers can participate in. There are accessible hikes, beaches, and even water sports like rafting! Even the coral pools off Pajuçara Beach have become accessible using specially equipped boats.

Wheelchair accessible dirt ramp on ecotourIt is really neat to see how these groups take initiative and ingeniously make nature accessible while still respecting and conserving nature. For example, this ramp… I’m sure it would not stand up to ADA regulations but it preserves the environment, culture, and integrity of the entire experience. It’s these types of efforts that are so amazing to see (for me! at least!!)

This is such a good example of using resources you have available to make creative solutions. It in no way detracts from the natural beauty, but rather incorporates the beauty of a raw incarnation of human ingenuity. It stays true to the spirit of eco-tourism and offers disabled tourists an authentic experience.

What other opportunities have surprised you for being accessible?

BYOR: Bring your own ramp

In Brazil, a paraplegic man was left to his own devices when city officials repeatedly ignored his request to make the town hall wheelchair accessible.

Samuel Nobile de Oliveira (Paraplegic) builds wheelchair ramp in Brazil

Here you can see Samuel Nobile de Oliveira making his OWN ramp on his day off.

While this image is moving in that a man with a disability is literally left on his butt by his city. He is alone and Mr. (or Ms.) Green Shorts is just standing by not helping.

The town mayor said “I apologize to all disabled by the situations and constraints… We will take appropriate action in the city so this does not happen anymore.” Oddly, this does not reassure me.

I do have to give great credit to Samuel for taking initiative while simultaneously putting every able-bodied city official to shame. He did not accept the status quo and challenged those who tried to prove otherwise — what an inspiration!

Accessibility is a right–in public buildings above all–and he did his city a great service by enforcing that right. I’m glad the media caught on to his rather heroic stand and that his actions will help others defend their rights.

Read more here.