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jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
The Challenges and Promise of Inclusive 
Tourism in Nepal 
Dr. Scott Rains writes daily on travel a...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
disabilities had the possibility to live 
such long and productive lives. In fact, 
never has the o...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
observing that real people come in 
a variety of shapes, sizes and levels 
of ability. It seeks to ...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
Interview with Ms Paula Sotnik 
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
changing experience for me. I am 
truly grateful to all in Nepal who spent 
time and educated me. A...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
Q. What are the major 
differences that you have found 
between your country and 
Nepal in terms of...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
towards promoting the rights of PWDs 
in Nepal ? 
Response: The first factor that comes 
to mind is...
jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! 
disability community. Over the past 
years, there has been an increased 
emphasis on supporting mor...
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On Disability and Tourism in Nepal: Article by Scott Rains and Interview with Paula Sotnik


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On Disability and Tourism in Nepal: Article by Scott Rains and Interview with Paula Sotnik

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On Disability and Tourism in Nepal: Article by Scott Rains and Interview with Paula Sotnik

  1. 1. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! The Challenges and Promise of Inclusive Tourism in Nepal Dr. Scott Rains writes daily on travel and issues in the tourism industry of interest to people with disabilities. His work appears online at He is the founder of the global forum on Inclusive Tourism  Tour Watch. Rains articles have appeared in numerous publications: New Mobility, Emerging Horizons, Venture, Brave New Traveler, Challenges, TravelBiz Monitor, Enabled Online, Contours, Accessible Portugal, Audacity, Travel and Transitions, eTur Brazil, Success & Ability, Turismo Polibea, and Disaboom among others. Dr. Scott came to Nepal in May 2014 to promote the accessible tourism in Nepal. During his short visit, he visited Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara to practically see the situation of accessibility and met with with many stakeholders from government agencies, private agencies and disabled people organizations' leaders to work for promoting accessible tourism in Nepal. NAPD-Nepal, in this regards, requested him to write an article comprising the real learning from Nepal. I came to Nepal to build on the work of one of the countries most experienced and respected travel professionals, Pankaj Padhanananga of Four Season Travel and Tours.My assignment was to experience and evaluate the accessibility for wheelchair users of their Nepal sampler itinerary. It includes Kathmandu for culture, Chitwan for a jungle experience and Pokhara to get close to the Himalayas. Since I use a wheelchair and travel with a personal assistant part of the project was to build the capacity of their suppliers, including personal care assistants. Something new is happening in the world. Never before have had so many people with By Dr. Scott Rains gj ;dfgtf I20
  2. 2. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! disabilities had the possibility to live such long and productive lives. In fact, never has the older population of the world outnumbered the young as it does today. The rules of that future are being born in choices we make today. I applaud my friend Pankaj Pradhananga for allowingme, through the sponsorship of Four Season Travel and Tours, to place before you the opportunity to choose an approach to doing business that ethically and sustainably draws in this underserved market. I wanted to write each person who attended the workshops because it is clear you are motivated to follow through. Already a joint Nepali and international group have formed to build the countrys first accessible public restroom in Kathmandu. Id like to see one simultaneously built in Chitwan and Pokhara so I can begin to tell the world that inclusion of travelers with disabilities is a national value in Nepali hospitality and so that Nepali businesses would see more of us active in society. In my final workshop which was at the US Embassy in Kathmandu I left behind a challenge for Nepalese as well as development programs run by my own country. I specified these steps in my final report to key stakeholders: Hold professional training for airports and airlines by Chicago's Open Doors Organization Purchase lift-equipped vans by hotels for airport pick up and side trips such as those modified by Braun Lifts of Minnesota Train a national pool of Personal Care Assistants using internationally accepted standards using experienced trainers such a those at the Philippine's PINATI. Build a photo collection showing real disabled people as models enjoying Nepal using the stock photo service See to it that there are at least one hotel room independently accessible wth ADA-like international standards (especially with a roll-in shower) at each Nepali tourist destination city. The challenges are significant. Nepal will not be a disabled-friendly destination over night  but it can be soon. In 2002 and again in 2005 a study done in the USA showed that American with disabilities was spending $13.6 billion annually on travel. Europe estimates that its disabled population spends even more. Australia claims that its travelers with disabilities add at least another $9 billion each year. When the tourism sector in Nepal understands that it is hurting itself by not serving this market not only will hotels and airlines change but that spirit of social inclusion will spill over to education, employment and public infrastructure. The key to achieving tourism for all in Nepal is a practical approach known as Universal Design. It begins by gj ;dfgtf I21
  3. 3. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! observing that real people come in a variety of shapes, sizes and levels of ability. It seeks to create for he broadest range of people under the broadest range of conditions so that a product, space or service does not need to be later modified for so called "special” people or circumstances. Universal Design imagines people with disabilities, child, and older people as participating in society. Then it builds to allow that to happen. To allow Nepalese tourism to grow to its potential here is a list of the Goals of Universal Design as developed by Professor Edward Steinfeld. A more detailed version of these goals, with examples of each, is found in his recent book, Universal Design: Creating Inclusive vironments (Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Goal 1: Body Fit ! Accommodating a wide a range of body sizes and abilities Goal 2: Comfort ! Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function Goal 3: Awareness ! Ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived Goal 4: Understanding ! Making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear and unambiguous Goal 5: Wellness ! Contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease and prevention of injury Goal 6: Social Integration ! Treating all groups with dignity and respect Goal 7: Personalization ! Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences Goal 8: Cultural Appropriateness ! Respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project I have no doubt after my experience traveling through Nepal that this human-centered social philosophy is culturally appropriate with Nepalese values. I also see signs of enthusiasm for greater inclusion in tourism around the country. I look forward to evaluating the practical that will have taken place when I return next year. gj ;dfgtf I22
  4. 4. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! Interview with Ms Paula Sotnik Email: Website: Ms. Paula Sotnik is a recognized expert consultant, trainer and author on access and accommodations; culture brokering; diversity; outreach and recruitment strategies; team and partnership development; measurable outcome oriented strategic planning; national service, volunteerism and disability legislation, policy knowledge and practice acquired through years of personal, educational and professional life experiences. She serves as a consultant reviewer and trainer for an international fellowship exchange program. As part of her action, she came to Nepal coordinating with Sagar Prasain  a youth with disability, and provided training on fund raising and project proposal writing skills to the twelve different Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) leaders at NAPD-Nepal. At the mean time, the following interview was taken with her particularly focusing on her visit to Nepal. Her responses to the questions in interview were given in details: Q. Could you please share us your visit purpose to Nepal ? Response: Our organization, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) had a great opportunity to host an IREX fellow-Sagar Prasain from Nepal last Fall. The Institute for Community Inclusion is a freestanding center at UMASS Boston that supports the rights of children and adults with disabilities to participate in all aspects of the community. Mr. Prasains goal was to learn about U.S. disability law, policies and practices. He accomplished this goal yet we achieved much more which truly benefited our staff. Mr. Prasain educated us about what its like to live with and experience disability in Nepal. As a result, our staff became much more culturally responsive in how they approach people with disabilities from other countries. Ms. Paula Sotnik Mr. Prasain and I also deve loped a project and strategies to address some of the access and issues in Nepal, through his newly formed nongovernmental organization, Sangai Hami. I was fortunate to obtain a travel grant to Nepal to continue our collective work. My main objectives were to: provide a training on access, mmodations, Universal Design, CRPD and inclusion to participants with and without disabilities learn as much as I could about what its like to live with a disability in Nepal learn about advocacy activities, disability services and supports from visiting many DPOs and talking to leaders in the disability community My trip and the opportunity to learn from others in Nepal was a life gj ;dfgtf I23
  5. 5. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! changing experience for me. I am truly grateful to all in Nepal who spent time and educated me. Also I am very grateful to the U.S. Department of State grant awarded to the IREX Community Solutions Program, which made Mr. Prasains fellowship and my trip to Nepal possible. I truly hope to return to this beautiful and embracing country one day in the future and continue to work with my new friends to achieve a fully inclusive Nepal. Q. How did you find the disability movement in Nepal ? Response: With very little resources, a group of very dedicated committed people who are passionate about equality and inclusion and possess a strong and consistent voice, are making a huge difference in Nepal. From the capacity development and leadership of National Federation of the Disabled Nepal and the National Association of the Physical Disabled Nepal to the dedication by mothers of children with Down Syndrome starting the Down Syndrome Society of Nepal in a mothers home, these individuals are accomplishing a shared goal of providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities of all ages to learn grow and succeed. I met with a young woman who, recognizing a lack of services for youth with autism and other intellectual disabilities left her government position to start a much needed school, Special School for Disabled and Rehabilitation Center. This school has successfully transitioned children to regular education classes. And I learned much from the work by staffs of the National Association of Hard of Hearing and Deafened Nepal, who are educating schools and parents of young children to recognize and address hearing disabilities. I was so inspired by the young leaders with disabilities who tirelessly, articulately and intelligently study best practices, inclusive policies and strategies for potential application to Nepal. These young leaders are our future and this effort will make for a future inclusive Nepal. I was very encouraged by young leaders without disabilities in healthcare, architecture, media and communication fields who participated in our training and developed action plans on how they will advance equal rights, access and inclusion in their respective fields and professionals. So, while accessibility issues exist and progressive programs for people with significant disabilities are still in development, the efforts and strength of committed Nepalis, with and without disabilities, will continue the momentum necessary for including all citizens in their communities, regardless of ability or disability, and valuing their individual contributions. gj ;dfgtf I24
  6. 6. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! Q. What are the major differences that you have found between your country and Nepal in terms of protecting and promoting the human rights of Persons with Disabilities ? Response: The United States has a long history of advocacy for equal rights, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act laid the foundation for equal civil and human rights for individuals with disabilities, leading to a number of laws starting with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and others. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. These laws would not have been passed without advocacy by individuals with disabilities. One action, called the Capitol Crawl is seen by many present-day disability activists in the United States as being the single action most responsible for 'forcing' the ADA in to law. Over 60 activists left their wheelchairs and mobility devices and began crawling the 83 stone steps up to the U.S. Capitol Building to demonstrate the unfairness and even cruelties of inaccessibility. The ADA was passed shortly after and this strong advocacy action symbolizes how people with disabilities unite, have a voice and make a difference. Although Nepal progressed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and enacted laws, e.g., the Social Welfare Act 1992 and the Education Act of 2000, Nepalis with disabilities indicate that these laws and related policies are not implemented and there are no consequences for noncompliance. More importantly, I learned that these laws mandate what should be provided to people with disabilities with rather than guaranteeing equal rights for individuals to actively and meaningfully participate in society. Also, language in these laws indicate the government has the power to provide access and supports but is not obligated to ensure equal and accessible resources and services. Thus, governmental authorities may be able to postpone or deny demands for equal conditions due to a lack of resources. However, it may not be fair to compare countries and we need to take Nepals political history into account. Nepalis have only been able to exercise and enjoy democratic rights since 2006, a relatively brief period in which to see major systemic changes. However, this new democratic society will continue to set a strong foundation for the future development of rights based disability policy. Q. As being a disability right expert having more than twenty years of working experience, what do you see the major gaps to be worked for gj ;dfgtf I25
  7. 7. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! towards promoting the rights of PWDs in Nepal ? Response: The first factor that comes to mind is the need to increase individuals with disabilities who have decision-making power in leadership roles in government. Secondly, equality and inclusion is everyone’s business and responsibility, not just people with disabilities and DPOs. Thus it is critical to educate government, employers, students, schools, non-disability related NGOs, health care workers and more. Education should not just focus on legal compliance but focus on stories of how citizens with disabilities are important to Nepali society. Individuals telling their stories about how they have made positive and significant contributions to their families, community and society are paramount. Educating everyone that people with disabilities, with opportunities to equal access and supports if needed, are and can become are teachers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, and leaders in Nepal. And any education efforts should focus on Universal Design to show everyone how elements of inclusive programmatic and architectural design doesn’t just benefit individuals with disabilities, but benefits everyone! Additionally, I frequently heard that the government has the laws but lacks a viable implementation plan to ensure and promote the rights of individuals with disabilities. As mentioned, strong consistent Nepali NGOs and DPOs can work together to develop a strong coordinated and united effort, with one voice, to compel and assist with the development and implementation of a plan for accessibility and inclusion that includes overall goals with concrete and measurable objectives, and most importantly an evaluation system that holds all parties accountable. Like the U.S., all structures and agencies that that are funded by or benefit from government funds lead the example in becoming fully accessible and inclusive. By doing so, these entities can set a good example for businesses and other community resources to achieve accessibility so that all individuals may benefit. Q. It is obvious that its state's first responsibility to protect and promote the fundamental rights of its every citizen. However, it seems very desperate in terms of persons with disabilities not only in particular country instead globally. Therefore, what do you think it to be so ? Response: Circumstances and views of people with disabilities are changing for the better, but doing so very slowly. In the not too distant past, people with disabilities were viewed as recipients, objects of charity,powerlessandwithout a voice. Governmental officials did not prioritize the interests and needs of the gj ;dfgtf I26
  8. 8. jif{ –!@, cÍ–!*, @)&! disability community. Over the past years, there has been an increased emphasis on supporting more individuals with disabilities to vote and have more of a voice in choosing their political leaders. We are also now seeing people with disabilities assuming more leadership positions, in valued roles in the media and actively engaged in their communities. However in many developing countries people with disabilities still lack essential services and access to education, work, health services and participation in the governmental decisions. We are still facing prejudice and being thought of as “less than” by many of our fellow citizens. I remain optimistic that the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities will universally mandate that states should uphold the rights of everyone. I see an increase in our youth and young adults, with and without disabilities, taking the Convention very seriously and strongly advocating for equal access and inclusion. This trend, by our young leaders, will create a more equalizing and accessible future in which countries and states prioritize the needs and interests of individuals with disabilities. Q. Finally, thank you so much for your precious time and opinions for the above raised queries. Would you like to say anything more besides these ? Response: As mentioned the DPOs work tirelessly with little to no resources. Many of the staff are not paid or paid very little for long hours. Some funds might be provided by government, donations and/or by other international organizations but may not be enough to support all the work that is necessary to successfully implement projects that make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. From talking with many of the DPOs it seems that a capacity building effort is needed to assist DPOs to obtain and manage larger government and foundation grants. The focus should encourage effective partnering to build a strong proposal and leverage resources, working with an intermediary seasoned organization that not only subcontracts small amounts to DPOs but, more importantly, replicates competitions through which DPOs may hone their skills to develop strong and winning proposals, and subsequently be funded. This strategy, successfully used in the Unites States, may hold promise for Nepali DPOs to increase their ability to self-sufficiently compete and be awarded significant grants, without relying on larger international organizations for small subcontracts. gj ;dfgtf I27