Most disabilities shouldn’t stop anyone from traveling. There are more options and resources out there than ever before.
Most of San Francisco’s major museums and tourist attractions have wheelchair ramps. Many hotels offer special accommodations and services for wheelchair users and other visitors with disabilities. As well as the ramps, they include extra-large bathrooms and telecommunication devices for hearing-impaired travelers. The Visitor Information Center should have the most up-to-date information.
Travelers in wheelchairs can request special ramped taxis by calling Yellow Cab (tel. 415/626-2345), which charges regular rates for the service. Travelers with disabilities can also get a free copy of the “Muni Access Guide,” published by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Accessible Services Program, One South Van Ness, 3rd floor (tel. 415/701-4485), which is staffed weekdays from 8am to 5pm. Many of the major car-rental companies offer hand-controlled cars for drivers with disabilities. Alamo (tel. 800/651-1223), Avis (tel. 800/331-1212, ext. 7305), and Budget (tel. 800/314-3932) have special hotlines that help provide such a vehicle at any of their U.S. locations with 48 hours’ advance notice; Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131) requires between 24 and 72 hours’ advance notice at most locations.
Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (tel. 800/CALL-MOSS [2255-6677]; www.mossrehab.com), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org), and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality;tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.
Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a comprehensive database on travel agents from around the world with experience in accessible travel, destination-specific access information, and links to such resources as service animals, equipment rentals, and access guides.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) and Accessible Journeys (610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).
Flying with Disability (www.flying-with-disability.org) is a comprehensive information source on airplane travel. Avis Rent A Car (tel. 800/962-1434) has an “Avis Access” program that offers services for customers with special travel needs. These include specially outfitted vehicles with swivel seats, spinner knobs, and hand controls; mobility scooter rentals; and accessible bus service. Be sure to reserve well in advance.
Also check out the quarterly magazine “Emerging Horizons” (www.emerginghorizons.com), available by subscription ($17 a year U.S.; $22 outside U.S.).
The “Accessible Travel” link at Mobility-Advisor.com (www.mobility-advisor.com) offers a variety of travel resources to persons with disabilities.