Everyone deserves memorable holidays, and for those living with disabilities, that starts with finding places to stay that are sensitive to their needs. The good news is that across Australia, and most of the rest of the world, hotels, motels, and other forms of accommodation do want to make their facilities accessible to as many people as possible. As a result, it has never been easier to get around, regardless of what your disability is.
Holiday planning 101: Finding accommodation
The first step in planning the holiday is, of course, finding the perfect accommodation. Thankfully, there are a number of resources available that are specifically focused on providing great experiences to those with disabilities. Here are just three useful examples:
AccessibleAccommodation.com.au: An Australian-owned website that understands that when it comes to disabilities one “size” does not fit all, Accessible Accommodation aims to make it clear just how right an accommodation option is for you. Each listing on Accessible Accommodation features dozens of different categories that are important from an accessibility point of view. These range from whether the listing offers accessible toilet, shower, and bathing facilities, through to disabled parking, whether it’s open to service dogs, and what kind of Internet and communication services it offers. There’ll be no unpleasant surprises around access when you book through this site!
Can Go Everywhere: Another Australian-specialist website, what makes Can Go Anywhere so appealing is that it has a very broad definition of accessibility requirements, catering to the accessibility needs of baby boomers and seniors right through to any kind of disability. Easy-to-read, clear descriptions and simple icons on each listing make it easy to see at a glance who would be able to make full use of the facilities.
DisabledHolidays.com: This UK-based website is excellent if you’re booking a holiday anywhere in the UK, and has a wide range of destinations abroad to look at as well. The company makes a real effort to audit each accommodation that it lists personally, to check that it meets the standards that people living with a disability need, and provides other services too, such as adapted transfers, mobility equipment hire and flights and airport assistance. It does all of this while also being highly competitive on price.
5 accommodation ideas for people living with a disability
1. Holiday house
Wheelchair friendly holiday houses offer accessibility and luxurious living combined. Just like a home away from home, a holiday house is a full-size home that can be rented out for a weekend escape, week-long getaway, or long-term vacation. Accessible holiday houses contain everything you need for a comfortable stay. Spacious rooms, all amenities including wifi and AC, easy reach lights, wide doorways and bathrooms with handrails, as well as easy on-site access. There are one storey holiday houses such as cottages or cabins, and multi-level holiday with elevator access so you can enjoy the freedom of going up and down levels and enjoy the spectacular views. Wheelchair and disability-approved holiday homes should all come with ramp access and easy access to local attractions.
2. Apartment with wheelchair access
If you are going on holiday, look for apartments with wheelchair access. Apartments are usually found in populated areas like capital cities or popular holiday destinations like Queensland’s Gold Coast. Wheelchair-friendly apartments will have elevator access to the floor and level access into the apartment and its living quarters. An apartment with wheelchair access will feature disability access rooms and showers, on-site parking and easy to navigate grounds and surrounding landscaping for ease and comfort. Step-free and barrier-free, disability-friendly apartments are able to accommodate wheelchair users in all areas of the home.
3. Hotel with Wheelchair Access
If you meet the eligibility criteria for the NDIS, individuals can become a participant by completing an Access Request Form. You can call or visit your local NDIS office for support with this.
If you are eligible for the NDIS and received an access decision letter, the next step is to create a plan. The plan is a simple written agreement worked out by you that talks through the support you may need, some goals you may have and how the NDIS can help you achieve these goals. During the planning stage, you may have to answer questions about your lifestyle and disability. Completing the plan leads to the individual having access to supportive measures.
Once the plan is in action, individuals can manage their own plan or have someone manage it for them. Whatever the case, the NDIS holds yearly plan reviews that can be held face to face or over the phone. The plan review checks that the supports that the NDIS are providing are working and helping to move the person towards achieving these set goals.
If you have plans for a luxurious holiday, then a resort may be an accommodation style to keep in mind. Resorts are a full-service lodging facility that is often found on central locations such as on beaches or rainforests. They also often contain on-site activities and restaurants as well as day spa facilities. Accessible resorts are fully wheelchair accessible with rooms and bathrooms fitted with full disability aids. Resorts are a great option for people living with a disability, as they provide all the convenience and entertainment within one place. From 24/7 room service, in-room massage services, indoor pools and therapeutic spas. They also often come with wheelchair-accessible shuttle services to transport guests to nearby attractions.
There are many cruise ship operators that cater to those with disabilities or requiring wheelchair access. If you love the idea of a holiday out to sea, then a cruise would be a great holiday accommodation option. These cruise ships will provide wheelchair access including wheel-in showers and toilets, hearing facilities, visual aids, wheelchair ramps and grab rails. Some cruise lines will even offer hoists or electric beds to rent. Specially adapted staterooms with wide access doors, low sinks, shower stools, raised toilets, and handrails provide comfort and convenience for anyone requiring ease of mobility.
Where to go for your accessible holiday
As you’ll see from the accommodation websites above, there are plenty of hotels and holiday facilities that cater to those with disabilities. To help get the creative juices flowing when you’re planning your own holiday, here are some of our picks for destinations:
The fairy penguins of Australia’s Phillip Island are an international treasure, and one of the best things about a trip to the island is that there is an exclusive viewing area for those with disabilities to watch the penguins wander around and burrow in the beach. You’ll get much closer to them than in any zoo, and the disabled access truly goes the extra mile to make sure no one misses out.
Climbing Uluru was finally banned this year, but that was never the best way to view the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The way to (respectfully) admire this deeply spiritual place was to follow the tracks, and these are all designed to be friendly to wheelchair users. Furthermore, the accommodation, coaches, shops and other key buildings that make Uluru a true holiday destination all offer wheelchair access and assisted rooms. You might think the desert heat might be a bit much for those with disabilities, but Uluru has you covered there, too – there is plenty of shade and canopies to rest, dine, and relax under.
Thailand is the holiday jewel of south-east Asia, so it’s great to see one area decide to cater specifically to tourists with disabilities. One resort in this area went as far as to put ramps out over the water, and organising activities such as disabled diving, shows held in arenas with wheelchair access, and specialty transportation options. Now everyone can make the most of a tropical getaway!
Historical cities are often difficult for people with disabilities to get around, as the cities weren’t designed around accessibility, and the necessary changes to enable accessibility could damage the heritage buildings or environment. Dublin has made it work, however. Almost the entire city has been subtly worked to allow for accessible access, without compromising the facades and rich history of the thousand year old city.
The world’s biggest cities can sometimes feel alienating and unhelpful to anyone that can’t keep up with the hustle and bustle, but Hong Kong has a well-deserved reputation for looking after all residents and visitors, with temples with wheelchair access, maps and guidebooks specifically designed for those with disabilities, and dedicated transport for those with disabilities.
As you can see, there is no limit to the range of experiences available to those living with disabilities. Once you know how to filter through and find the right accommodations and locations, the world is your oyster!
If you need any assistance with living with a disability – including finding permanent accommodation to live, contact the friendly team at Ability Options. We are here to help!