Most disabilities shouldn't stop anyone from traveling. There are more options and resources out there today than ever before.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is enforced as strictly in Puerto Rico as it is on the U.S. mainland -- in fact, a telling example of the act's enforcement can be found in Ponce, where the sightseeing trolleys are equipped with ramps and extra balustrades to accommodate travelers with disabilities. Unfortunately, hotels rarely give much publicity to the facilities they offer persons with disabilities, so it's always wise to contact the hotel directly, in advance, if you need special facilities. Tourist offices usually have little data about such matters.
You can obtain a free copy of Air Transportation of Handicapped Persons, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Write for Free Advisory Circular No. AC12032, Distribution Unit, U.S. Department of Transportation, Publications Division, 3341Q 75 Ave., Landover, MD 20785. No phone requests are accepted, but you can write for a copy of the publication or download it for free at http://isddc.dot.gov.
The U.S. National Park Service offers a Golden Access Passport that gives free lifetime entrance to U.S. national parks, including those in Puerto Rico, for persons who are blind or have permanent disabilities, regardless of age. You can pick up a Golden Access Passport at any NPS entrance-fee area by showing proof of medically determined disability and eligibility for receiving benefits under federal law. Besides free entry, the Golden Access Passport also offers a 50% discount on federal-use fees charged for such facilities as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm, or call tel. 888/467-2757.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) offers escorted tours and cruises that emphasize sports and private tours in minivans with lifts. Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers extensive access information and advice for traveling around the world with disabilities. Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com) caters specifically to slow walkers and wheelchair travelers and their families and friends.
Organizations that offer assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (800/CALL-MOSS [800/225-5667]; www.mossresourcenet.org), which provides a library of accessible-travel resources online; the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; tel. 800/232-5463 or 212/502-7600; www.afb.org), a referral resource for the blind or visually impaired that includes information on traveling with Seeing Eye dogs; and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality; tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org; annual membership fees: $45 adults, $30 seniors and students), which offers a wealth of travel resources for all types of disabilities and informed recommendations on destinations, access guides, travel agents, tour operators, vehicle rentals, and companion services. AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals, in case of an emergency, for $195 a year ($295 per family), among other benefits.
For more information specifically targeted to travelers with disabilities, the community website iCan (www.icanonline.net) has destination guides and several regular columns on accessible travel. Also check out the quarterly magazine Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com; $14.95 per year, $19.95 outside the U.S.); and Open World magazine, published by SATH (subscription: $13 per year, $21 outside the U.S.).
A tip for British travelers: The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR), Unit 12, City Forum, 250 City Rd., London, EC1V 8AF (tel. 020/7250-3222; fax 020/7250-0212; www.radar.org.uk), publishes information for travelers with disabilities.