How Accessible are City Vacations?
By Jackie Writing
2.2 million people in the US depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Given these numbers, it’s unsurprising that traveling with a wheelchair has become more common. You can easily travel abroad with a disability and, if you’re well prepared, any trip can be an adventure rather than an ordeal. If you can visit the pyramids in Egypt without any problems, what about attractions that are closer to home? The Empire State Building or the White House? How are our own cities geared up to cope with people living with a disability? Let’s have a look at how easy it is for wheelchair users to take a break in two of our most popular city destinations for tourists, New York and Washington DC.
A trip to New York will begin at one of its three airports: JFK, LaGuardia or Newark. All of them are fully accessible to disabled passengers, and wheelchairs can be taken to the gate and aircraft door. If you haven’t arranged transport from the airport into the city in advance, you can request a wheelchair accessible taxi, or use the NYC Airporter shuttle buses which can all accommodate wheelchairs.
Wheelchair users can really enjoy NYC. The major attractions such as the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and the One World Observatory are all fully wheelchair accessible, as are the main museums. Most of the auditoriums in Broadway Theaters now have spaces for wheelchair users and their companions, and the iconic Radio City Music Hall is also wheelchair accessible. To help you get around the city, the Metropolitan Transport Authority has published a guide to accessible transport, so you should be able to visit and explore all the areas you want to see.
In terms of getting to DC, the airport nearest the
city is the Ronald Reagan National Airport. To get into the city from the airport, you can use the Metro Blue and Yellow Lines. Unlike in New York, the DC Metro is fully accessible, although, sometimes there can be issues with the elevators. As in New York, wheelchair taxis can be ordered, although the waiting times can be fairly long.
Once you reach the city, you’ll find that Washington DC is, probably, one of the world’s most wheelchair accessible. The city’s official marketing organization, Destination DC has some useful information on its website about getting to and around the city and accessible attractions. These include the White House, Capitol Building and the Supreme Court which are all fully accessible, as are national monuments, such as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King memorials.
Getting Around the City
The sidewalks in the city are mainly smooth and even, making them easy for wheelchair users to navigate. There are some hilly parts of the city but it’s easy enough to catch a bus to avoid the hills since there are regular services and all are fully accessible.
There are many accessible accommodation options in Washington since the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that hotels offer accessible rooms with features such as bathtubs with grab bars and roll in showers. Many online travel sites, such as Expedia.com allow you to search for accessible hotel rooms so you can book a particular room in advance.
With many accessible options for accommodation, transport and sightseeing in both New York City and Washington DC, wheelchair users can experience these historic and vibrant cities to the full. If you’d like to take a well-earned break in one of these cities, there should be nothing to stop you!