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How Accessible Is The USA Really?

Okay, so the new year has started and the kids are back at school. Time to reflect on a once in a lifetime overseas family holiday.

Our trip was at the beginning of the school holidays and the destination was the good old U.S. of A. I had travelled over to America 25 years prior to being in a wheelchair, but was unsure what to expect as far as wheelchair access goes.

I know that my wife went to great pains to make sure everything was accessible when making the bookings from Australia. After an extremely long flight (16 hours) we landed at LAX.  Four very tired Australian tourists were then forced to wait an extra hour for a bus transfer, simply because the lift had broken down.  Unfortunately we encountered the same problem a second time during our travels.

I must say my overall experience of disability services in America was exceptional, however I wish I had brought gloves. The sidewalks are very dirty, and at the end of every day my hands would end up filthy.

We went to Disneyland and Universal Studios whilst in L.A. I was pleasantly surprised to find both theme parks had plenty of rides that were accessible, so I could enjoy them with the family instead of sitting on the sidelines. After L.A we flew to Las Vegas, where the grand scale of the structures was impressive to say the least. We were brought back down to reality unfortunately when confronted by the sheer number of homeless people.

After Las Vegas we hired a car and drove to the Grand Canyon.  Our minds were blown away by the sheer beauty and vastness of the mighty canyon. We were taken aback on the second day when we had to complete our site seeing in -13 Degrees Celsius temperatures!

The final part of our trip took in Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier. This is where I discovered the full extent of America’s disability access. The council actually had a section of the pier lowered, so that people in wheelchairs could fish.

After three weeks of amazing experiences we had to endure another 16 hour flight home.  It is not easy travelling with a disability, but I think it is important to try and overcome the difficulties to do so. My overall experience was well worth it. I couldn’t have done it however without my wife, who’s tireless planning made the whole trip so much easier.

PBF Presenter – Jason McGregor

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