This mother of a disabled child would like to start traveling with her family. She asked several questions and our Disway ambassador Marie answers.
What is the mobility concern that you or your family member faces?
To introduce myself a little. My name is Marie, I am 36 years old, I was born with cerebral palsy and I am a wheelchair user from the Czech Republic. I have been traveling with my mother for over 20 years. The most important thing for us when traveling is to have enough information about the accessibility of places, attractions and especially accommodation. It is not easy to find the details of places of interest, whether from the point of view of a wheelchair user, the blind or the deaf. That's why I'm glad to be collaborating on the travel social network Disway.org/en, where disabled users from all over the world can share their positive and negative travel experiences.
How often do you travel?
Once or twice a year. Depending on how far (and how expensive!) it is. We plan the trip.
What is the hardest part about planning your things to do, when traveling abroad or locally?
When planning a trip, you must think of everything and forget nothing. If you require assistance, airport or train station staff must know about the disabled in advance. And, of course, we need to get detailed information, information and again information about accessibility.
Tell me about the last time that you encountered a problem?
The problem I would like to mention is the careless handling of a wheelchair when it has to enter storage of an aircraft. Employees often do not realize that it is someone's legs and throw a wheelchair as if it were ordinary luggage. During our trip around Australia, they brought to us a broken and completely unusable wheelchair after a domestic flight from Uluru to Sydney. For the first time in 20 years, something like this happened to us and I must say that it was my most stressful moment. According to other travelers, this happens quite often - unfortunately.
Why was this hard?
For a person with cerebral palsy, wheelchair is the most important thing. Without it, the trip is over.
What have you done, if anything, to solve this problem?
At Sydney Airport, we agreed with the management that they would repair my wheelchair as soon as possible, that they would have the broken pipe welded. Three days, a repaired wheelchair was waiting for us at the hotel. It was not visible that it was seriously damaged.
What worked with these solution(s)?
The important thing was that they lent us an airport wheelchair without objection. My mother and I were finally able to go to the hotel and go on the trips around Sydney according to our plan. Waiting at the hotel would be frustrating.
What didn’t work with these solution(s)?
A two-hour discussion about who caused the damage of my wheelchair, instead of a quick search for a solution.
How has this problem cost you (define “cost” however you wish)?
Nerves, big nerves.
How frequent is this problem?
We have only experienced this situation once, but from the experience of other wheelchair users, I know that a broken wheelchair is not unusual when transported in plane. We have only been very lucky for 20 years.
What would you suggest?