Accessibility Review & Info
Engineered Travel promotes select travel businesses and organizations serving People with disabilities (Pwd), particularly those run by individuals with disabilities themselves
2007 was an exciting year for ET ...
We worked & traveled almost exclusively with the President & Executive Director of Accessible Travel International (ATI), Tom Hinojos, who has multiple disabilities himself (speech, hearing, vision, cerebral palsy & stroke like symptoms), but who continues to travel for both business & pleasure. Tom is an invaluable key disability consultant and field tester for many products & services which ET reviews. ATI is a Denver based 501(c)3 Non-Profit which reaches out to adults, students, and their families, with first hand travel expertise for the physically challenged. Tom is a truly amazing individual to work with and learn from, as he mentors others and shows them how it's all possible ...through his own positive example and practical/relevant information available through ATI.
In 2008, Engineered Travel LLC (enterprise) and Tom's organization (non-profit) will continue our "tag-team" approach for disability awareness through Universal Design. We will work through other 501(c)3 Non-Profits and larger companies alike. This is a direct result of ET LLC's attendance at the 12th SATH World Congress, Jan 2008 in Florida.
* ET also participated in workshop events around the USA in 2007 to gather insight from noted guest speakers & leaders within the Pwd community with respect to airline travel with wheelchairs, service animals, emerging services for disabled veterans, and adventure travel for the disabled ...just to name a few. We visited with numerous trade show exhibitors, contacted inventors and authors in order to seek out emerging technologies, mobility products improvements, accessible travel services, and accessibility improvements to Internet travel booking sites. We then solicited feedback from within the ranks of our Pwd network after they worked with selected products. Our highlighted 2007 events:
- World Traveler (GPS) GSM cell phone, emergency response, location testing (April 2007, Washington DC)
- abilities EXPO (June 2007, Long Beach CA)
- WCD EXPO (November 2007, Washington D.C.)
In 2008 ...ET LLC also joined SATH, ... Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality in our efforts to collaborate more effectively with others for increasing Pwd awareness, improving accessible travel products and services and to work with other travel industry professionals worldwide to improve overall travel safety, comfort and enjoyment for those traveling with disabilities or physical challenges. We encourage you to visit www.sath.org to learn more about this wonderful organization and highly recommend that you become a member yourself. Individuals can also join SATH and attend their annual event. You don't need to be a business owner or travel industry professional. Meet face to face with representatives from major airlines, hotels, public transportation providers, cruise lines, and individual travel providers in a very comfortable, guest speaker with Q&A "resort" environment. ET LLC benefited tremendously from both the professional and ...personal networking presented to us during SATH's 12th World Congress (our first). We found their Directors' and organization's thirty years of experience is blended with a refreshing eye for and attitude toward progress as they recognize the need for and encourage changes in technology and travel services which will benefit the growing numbers of mature travelers and those with disabilities. ET attended a number of the optional participatory workshops. Meals provided at main events were wonderful, evening entertainment activities (optional) sponsored by Congress organizers were enjoyable and well orchestrated. Cost to attend the event was very reasonable. Our first experience with a SATH World Congress event was a welcome and relaxing alternative to traditional trade events. Consumers, competitors and government agencies alike came together for a common goal ... travel enjoyment.
Coming: Beginning Q3 2009 (we'll offer you a simplified list and/or links to resources for key disability topics - resources)
* Pwd Travel Authors Did you know Colorado & Alaska are two of the most accessible states in the USA?
* Pwd "Flagship" products useful while traveling. You probably already know there is a portable, handheld device, size of a PDA/Digital camera that does text-speech conversion for the blind (released summer 2006); did you know this same technology was pushed down to a Nokia cell handset (released Jan. 2008)? What about that mobility device that climbs stairs and raises you up to standing height? Do you know about the handheld satellite based messenger device (FIRST of its kind-released in USA 11/2007) that can send alerts to your family & friends or 911 services with your GPS location detailed on Google maps-where there's no cell phone coverage!
* Pwd travel agents Did you know you can take an African safari by wheelchair? How do you find ...then choose a knowledgeable, responsible, personable, travel agent that understands disability or mature travel, applicable to YOUR needs and travel interests? We'll give you a few suggestions ...for agents we've met that we think excel.
* TOP two Cruise Lines for Pwd travel These are the ones YOU told us about & our consultative travel agents agree.
* TSA, Airlines, & your wheelchairs What's new at airports/with airlines ... for the traveler with disabilities or the mature...we'll point you to the organizations - their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) most involved on your behalf. Which airlines have gotten together to address your concerns & mitigate damage to your wheelchair ...what's being done and who's doing it. Do you know what/who a "CRO" is ...at the airport, how these airline specific representatives can help? ET spoke with select airline representatives and Pwd travel buffs to get useful feedback for and to you.
...Check back with us later, about mid July 2009, to hear about 2008's annual recap and our advancing work for 2009!
Hint ... "thousands" of you visited with our CEO in person on the Expo floor or visited our website, shortly after the AE Anaheim event Spring 2008 and again after Dr. Rains' Internet review article of the newly released satellite device went round the world. Your personal stories, your willingness to demonstrate physical challenges you face with many of your handheld devices, and your feedback about communication devices (cell phones mostly) and travel in general were invaluable. Thank you ...ET listened! (We hope that all your emails and phone calls were addressed as we closed 2008. What an enthusiastic group.)
We will be working hard into 2009 to take your comments and insights for Universal Design (UD) improvements or new technology needed to address physical disabilities & mobile communication options ... to responsive companies which we believe can make the most positive, near future impact for your travel ease and safety. Although ET's most immediate focus in on communication products & services for your travel safety (Satellite, GPS, Cell - CDMA, GSM and newest LTE), your many personal comments made to our CEO at trade shows, tech conferences, in airports, train stations, while riding on buses, and numerous Pwd events has made it clear that you are also very concerned with legislative action affecting the Pwd community (e.g. home health care, online banking, medical technology, mobility equipment-wheelchair order-purchase-repairs, etc.). ET again listened and will "Liaise" on your behalf ...when and where appropriate, not only with other technologists (medical, software, computer hardware), inventors, universities, business enterprises, foundations & other non-profits, but using ET's eyes,ears, legs to relay your comments to legislative representatives. As ET gains recognition for our original field research with consumers and resultant satellite emergency services referrals through GEOS, we hope to mainstream Pwda concerns within many executives' organizations that we come in contact with.
Please bear with us, ET's research into communication options (e.g. consumer satellite services and why the leading smart phones just don't work for you-what you need instead) ...This is not an overnight process ...but we will do our best. Don't expect to see volume, we're about research that impacts lasting UD influence for the long haul and providing product & service referral options on ET's website that are consumer friendly in terms of cost/benefit/quality. We have received an overwhelming positive response from you these past two years concerning ET's "Mission" and our small specialty company approach (albeit with an understanding of large corporations offered via our Executive Board). We appreciate your offered comments and understanding of government legislation in the USA impacting the Pwda community ...as quite a challenge.
January 2009: ET LLC shut down its online travel booking engine and will instead direct our company travel needs to ATI, their Pwda non-profit travel site, to book our own business travel needs. ATI uses an online travel booking engine as a fund raising option for their organization, which in this current tight economy, provides ET another avenue to support ATI's non-profit efforts along with our existing sponsorship efforts.
Spring 2009: ET LLC initiated contact with select representatives in Washington DC (with guidance from ET's Nationwide Pwda Advisory Panel) to learn of efforts currently underway and transitioning from one Presidential Administration to our newly elected 2009 administration that may impact many with physical disabilities. (e.g. Communication needs, home health care, mobility equipment needs, banking, etc.) Many, many worthwhile organizations with demonstrated expertise are already working on these concerns - we have ourselves met or been networked to, a number of them. These Pwda organizations work deligently on reform to the ADA, ACA, medical device designation, etc. ET is a new, small volunteer "business voice" to this already established and highly qualified group of non-profits and foundations serving those with physical disabilities but you (many consumers) have asked ET to please get involved - we will - to the best of our ability. Please be patient as we attempt to come up to speed and explore how ET can, if possible, augment the valuable work already underway. We have much to learn from these other highly experienced, established organizations and appreciate that they are willing to share their knowledge in order to educate us too.
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