For people with physical or intellectual disabilities, travel can pose challenges.
Something as simple as booking transportation could require room for a wheelchair. Hotel washrooms might not have enough room or the toilet seat could be too low. Airport terminals may be located too far away.
A Kamloops family experienced such barriers during a trip to Hawaii.
Krystian Shaw, 29, has developmental disabilities and an anxiety disorder. When stepping foot on that island sand and crossing over ocean water, he got scared.
“If we had known that before, and especially knew about this travel agency [Travel For All], we would have prepared him about what there was,” mom Linda Shaw said. “We might not have decided to go to Hawaii or would have asked for different solutions of how we could overcome this. As a result, he does not want to go back to Hawaii.”
Mother and son will be at the Big Little Science Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discuss accessible travel. The lecture will focus on different programs offered by the government and private companies, as well as Travel For All, an accessible travel agency for which the Shaws recently became ambassadors.
“We are inviting special-education students to come after school with their families, with their caregivers, as well as some of those other people,” Krystian Shaw said. “Seniors can come, anyone can come.”
Financial obstacles can compound physical and mental limitations of travel. In addition to paying their own way, people who require help must also pick up the travel bill for care-aides.
A variety of programs can help make the movies, museums, zoos and travel more affordable. Easter Seals Canada, for example, offers a card to people with permanent disabilities to get them into the B.C. Wildlife Park and Cineplex Odeon theatres. Other programs offer reduced fares to hop onboard BC Ferries or free tickets by application for attendants on WestJet flights.
“The government provides us with a lot of supports that a lot of people out there do not know about,” Linda Shaw said.
It’s not the first time Krystian Shaw has spoken for people with diverse abilities. Five years ago, he started a newsletter called The Kamloops Self-Advocate and spends countless hours on it each week, with the goal of erasing stigma around diverse abilities and mental-health issues.
He has spoken at Thompson Rivers University and at CNIB events. He has also been a volunteer at the Big Little Science Centre.
“I always wanted to help people and give back to the community because it was the right thing to do after I got support by society,” Krystian Shaw said. “I want to give them back support, too.”
He said he is branching out to do a lecture on travel after becoming an ambassador for Travel For All. It will also be discussed among travel options.
The Shaw family invites people to attend the lecture with questions to make the presentation more interactive.
The event is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Kamloops and will run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Big Little Science Centre, at 655 Holt St. in Brocklehurst. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Entry is free and refreshments will be provided. The event will be wheelchair accessible.
Read the latest issue of The Kamloops Self-Advocate, including a story by Krystian Shaw on accessible travel, online at selfadvocatenet.com/kamloops-self-advocate-newsletter.
Sampling of accessible travel programs:
• Easter Seals Canada offers a card to people with permanent disabilities to get caregivers into various venues, including the B.C. Wildlife Park and Cineplex Odeon theatres;
• BC Ferries offers a disabled status identification card, offering discounted fares to B.C. residents with permanent disabilities and escorts;
• WestJet offers free tickets by application for escorts.
This story from Kristian Shaw is in Kamloops News This Week Newspaper Click Here