Accessibility and Holidays
After spending many weeks last year looking for a holiday cottage that met my daughter’s access needs, e-mailing owners and agencies, I was very pleased with the outcome and we have reaped the rewards of holiday accommodation that suited everyone. As you know, we are all different and our needs vary so not one disabled person is the same as another, so finding accessible accommodation can mean different things for everyone.
I am used to spending time researching holiday cottages and the surrounding area, as I assume many of you are, checking that there is plenty to do that suits all that are sharing the holiday. However, my gripe is with ‘attractions’ and places of interest and their definition of accessible and the amount of planning it takes to go on trips. Prior to going away I had looked at several websites to check that the things we would like to do were accessible. Some sites were hard to navigate and finding the right information was difficult, I sent information requests via websites, some companies failed to reply, so they did not get our custom. I tried to be as specific as possible, in the hope that my daughter’s access needs would be understood. Some replies quite frankly were rubbish and useless.
On arrival at our holiday I went into ‘office’ mode and called companies to check access and book tickets. My daughter wanted to go looking for The Loch Ness monster, the company I had earmarked prior to leaving were fantastic. They gave me full details on wheelchair accessibility on their boat, and explained that only one trip was suitable as the others involves stop offs that had steps. The only thing they failed to mention was that there was no accessible toilet on board, fortunately my daughter didn’t need those facilities until we were back on dry land.
So many beaches were inaccessible due to steps down to the beach, the only obstacle, as my daughter has an all terrain manual chair that is happy to be pushed on sand. There was no clear information regarding the access to the beach.
We stopped at a well known and popular view point, that said on it’s website that there were accessible trails. In our naivety we assumed that this meant that most of the headland would be wheelchair friendly, but no, the trails were short paths from the car park to a two separate viewpoints, not the headland and it’s surrounding areas. So we spent time taking it turns to sit with my daughter whilst the other one went off exploring. My daughter said she was “sorry she couldn’t join us”. It was a hard sentence to hear.
As the holiday drew to a close I found myself thinking about how much time and effort had been put into researching the accommodation, the area, access, and how restricted we were in where we could easily go, relax, enjoy the day without worrying about where the toilet was, were there steps, could we get the wheelchair into a cafe or restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t put me off next year’s holiday, or reflecting on what a lovely family holiday we had, but it makes me feel a little sad that so much planning and so many restrictions affect our holiday and our perception of an area. I now know why we went to the same area for many years. We knew where to go etc, but new challenges and experiences are good for us all.
Now I just need to take a few deep breaths and begin the final planning for my daughter’s next adventure…...Rotterdam on an overnight cruise with her PA.....Just the two of them……...