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Mobility Impairment Travel Advice

by Nellie Fox

According to government statistics, over 4 million Australians are thought to have some form disability or other. That is almost one-fifth of the population of the country, but thankfully the travel industry is better prepared than ever before to meet this group's needs. Of course, it should be said that only a proportion of this relatively high number have a disability that means they are mobility impaired. However, long-term complaints and disorders among Australia's ageing population mean that the travel and leisure sectors must be adaptable in order to satisfy the needs of an ever-growing number of mobility impaired customers. If you, or someone in your travel party, has additional needs when travelling and staying away from home what do you need to know?

Air Travel

Because we live in a big country, it is likely that any trip to another city in Australia is likely to involve air travel at some point. When booking an air ticket, inform the airline of your expected additional needs. Both airlines and airport operators are legally obliged under the Disability Discrimination Act to offer services for people with a mobility impairment. Trained personnel should be made available to help with things like baggage handling, getting around the terminal building and accessing toilets. However, all of this can take more time, so it is important to get to your departure point as early as possible, thereby allowing the staff to perform their legal duties in a reasonable timescale.

Hotels

When booking a hotel for your stay, use a specialist website that allows you to filter out accommodation which is not accessible. Many of the leading sites offer this function. However, bear in mind that rural hotels tend to be less geared up to the needs of mobility impaired individuals compared with city accommodation. Before booking, check what a hotel means by being 'accessible' because this can vary from state to state. If you need a hoist to get in the bath, for example, then it is always worth confirming this in advance since some hotels will consider themselves to be accessible because they have merely installed a few wheelchair-friendly ramps.

Car Hire

When hiring a car which can accept a wheelchair or that has been adapted to offer special hand controls, booking in advance is essential. Only the big-name car hire operators tend to offer vehicles with these sorts of adaptations and the trouble is that they often get reserved early, even at times that are not that busy. The only way to avoid being disappointed is to make sure you have made a reservation several months ahead of your planned trip.

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