Scott Rains Disability Pride and World Travel


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The December 2007 "My Spin" editorial for New Mobility magazine

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Scott Rains Disability Pride and World Travel

  1. 1. MYSPIN.DEC07.qxd 11/12/07 10:15 AM Page 10 MY SPIN Disability Pride and World Travel W hen we travel we repre- some little-known facts gathered marginalized “community of dif- sent more than our- by Rosangela Berman-Bieler of ference.” Often those meanings selves because we are the Inter-American Institute on attached to us abroad are the very part of a community. As Disability and Inclusive Develop- stereotypes we have worked so a person with a disabil- ment using research done by the hard to abolish, or at least insulate ity you carry two items of unusual Open Doors Organization: ourselves from, back home. value — especially in combina- American adults with disabili- Travel can mean separation tion. Both tend to surprise those ties or reduced mobility currently from the replenishing sources of you meet as you travel. The two spend an average of 13.6 billion disability identity and pride in our items are money and pride. By U.S. dollars a year on tourism. In lives. Loss of a community of dis- money I don’t just mean the 2002, these individuals made 32 ability pride isolates us from per- change in your pocket. By pride I million trips and spent 4.2 billion sonal relationships, political dis- mean the self-determination of dollars on hotels, 3.3 billion on cussions, and the artistic vitality of knowing who you are beyond airline tickets, 2.7 billion on food our culture. Yet that very “pres- economic measures of worth. and beverages, and 3.4 billion on ence of absence” is one of the By Scott Rains The very fact that you have a trade, transportation, and other privileged moments of travel. disability and travel suggests activities. The most popular inter- Personally, it can give us perspec- something about your economic national destinations for this tive on our lives. Publicly, it adver- Travel advertises condition. It indicates that you have credit, savings, education, tourist segment are: 1. Canada; 2. Mexico; 3. Europe; and 4. the tises us as being a portal for oth- ers into an as-yet-to-be-experi- us as being a por- maybe a profession that requires travel, but most importantly the Caribbean, in that order. The economic means to deter- enced way of life as a person with a disability. tal for others into ability to make decisions about the course of your life for your- mine our own futures gives us powerful leverage as consumers Travel the world today and you will find there is a hunger for an as-yet-to-be- self. That combination of means and dignity are a potent method on the attitudes, infrastructure, and products of the travel indus- community and solidarity among people with disabilities. As an experienced way of social transformation. Leisure travel means moving try. Our travel behavior is studied by the industry. exchange student, backpacker, business or vacation traveler, of life as a person beyond survival mode. A small but growing percentage of people with disabilities have made the Community is the multiplier effect that makes our economic behavior only a small part of the your identity as a person with a disability gives you access to faces of the host culture that are with a disability. transition to economic stability, but we are not equally distributed global impact that we exert. When we travel, we represent a commu- both positive and negative. Wherever you go, you will find around the world. Travel spreads nity of people with disabilities, unique opportunities to learn us around, which is to say that it and woven through that commu- from and contribute to local man- spreads around living examples nity is a unifying thread of pride. ifestations of disability culture. of an alternate lifestyle. We may be fortunate enough When we travel, we are With a generation of perma- to have begun our travel from a ambassadors of a community nently disabled people having situation where family, friends, beyond borders with a set of core experienced increasing degrees legislation, luck, and hard work values that the world has a chance of employment, education, and have given us a strong sense of to discover through the choices leisure, those of us with the self-confidence and a life lived we make. Take your pride on the means to travel belong to a con- among people like ourselves. A road and level the path for the sumer group that is only starting change of location might place us ones who come after you. to be noticed. How we choose to where our identity as a member Scott Rains publishes the spend those resources — even of the disability community is only Rolling Rains Report, a source of through our leisure activities — vaguely perceived as member- travel info for people with disabili- has profound impact. Here are ship in some inconsequential and ties: 10 NEW MOBILITY