The American with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was signed into law in 1990. One provision of the law guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities:
1. In public accommodations
3. State and local government services
IMHO, these guarantees insures some measure of independence. The ADA stood out in stark contrast to what I experienced on a recent trip overseas. Learn more about the American with Disabilities Act here.
A title I gladly wear is #HaveGrandmaWillTravel. I love to visit my grandbubs! I will admit, however, traveling to them isn’t always easy. Thankfully, grandbub #2 recently moved and now PLAYING with him, at least, doesn’t require a plane trip. However, no matter how difficult, I will always catch a flight to the UK for grandbub #1.
My most recent trip over to grandbub #1 started with a bit of a detour. Over the Summer I’d spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and walking around the neighborhood. I was preparing for Alfred Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast (C2C) which I planned to do with my sister. C2C has trekkers going through (3) National Parks: The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Moors. To say it was challenging would be an understatement.
Flights: Airlines & Stairs…
My first challenge was getting my bag in under the weight limit! The airline, and the company that transported my bag to my lodgings, had a weight limit: 20k. That converts to approximately 44lbs. I needed every bit of that as I planned to be gone for a month. After completing C2C, Scotland was on the schedule for several days before going to visit grandbub #1, with side trips to London.
As I said, I needed every bit of that 20k. What I had not anticipated was the carrying, rolling, and ultimately dragging of my suitcase up flights and flights of stairs. Have you noticed how no one in the UK lives in single story homes? Well maybe that’s not true, but there were no single story places taking (adventure) tourists; all the hostels, B&Bs, inns or hotels were multiple stories. And I can count with 2 fingers the number of times my bag was waiting for me in my room. That’s right only twice. All the other times (14 for Coast-to-Coast; 4 for Edinburgh and 2 for London) I had to lug my suitcase up a minimum of a 2 flights of stairs.
But I get ahead of myself. I noticed a challenge straightaway trying to get to the train platform. Inevitably there are stairs! And again while (somewhat) gracefully transferring my bag from the platform to the Tube train. (“Mind the gap!”) I wondered, and commented to my sister, how in the world do people with any kind of physical limitations get around here? It’s still a mystery to me. There are reserved seats on both the train and Tube or what they call priority seats for people with disabilities, elderly travelers or those less able to stand. But getting to them is another matter!
To be fair, the London Underground is undergoing an upgrade to make things more accessible. And it’s worth noting the Underground has been running since 1843 when inclusiveness wasn’t much of a priority. Read more on the history of the Underground here.
Before I left for the UK, there was a (road) construction project going on in an adjacent neighborhood. They’d torn up the sidewalks, removed curbs at intersections and put in ‘ramps’ so those using a wheelchair or walkers would have an easier time. I’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint similar designs in most of the areas I traveled via C2C. I marveled how elderly people with physical challenges or people with disabilities in general were expected to make their way!
Always up for PLAY…
If transporting my luggage was difficult in the UK, one thing they make easy! Providing ways to engage in PLAY! What do I mean? For instance, in the Victoria & Albert Museum they every museum has sections that are devoted just to children. They’ve got the Learning Centre were you can get a bag of clues, map and activity sheet to head out for a treasure hunt. If your kiddo is more into dress-up then you want to go over to Theatre Collection. Some galleries even have interactive elements. Kiddos could design their own coat of arms or try on ruff. These hands-on areas make exploring these galleries with folks more interesting (and tolerable) for younger museum visitors.
For more PLAY-based, learning activities that popped into my mind on the C2C check Play&Grow’s Facebook page. I also added several more children’s books to my library from this trip!
Disabilities in the USA & UK…
The United States has the ADA; England has the Equality Act. The Equality Act confers rights to disabled persons to protect them from discrimination. These rights cover primarily 3 areas:
- dealing with the police
Mobility has a huge impact on a person’s independence. I’ve no doubt the UK WILL modify/upgrade their facilities. It’s just when you’ve got centuries and centuries of history to contend with I guess it might take a few years. In the meantime I WILL continue to travel over to see grandbub #1…dragging my suitcase if necessary!
Yours in Play!