• Written by Tess Sanders Lazarus

Does disability friendly holiday accommodation really exist or is it something hotel operators add to their website to make themselves look inclusive and considerate.  According to Tanya Barton, while many hotel operators claim to offer wheelchair friendly accommodation, in reality they don’t and many people with a disability and mobility restrictions arrive only to find they are not able to stay or suffer terribly during their stay because the venue is not appropriately equipped to meet their needs.  

Fed up with the lack of holiday options for people with disabilities and mobility issues, Tanya has decided to create a crowdfunding campaign to fund the build of a truly wheelchair friendly holiday accommodation venue on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

“As a child, my family and I used to holiday at units on the Gold Coast every year.   We stayed at the units because they were the only ones we were aware of that were completely wheelchair accessible.  Unfortunately they no longer exist,” Ms Barton said today.

“As an adult living with Cerebral Palsy, I am not able to go away on holiday because I can’t rely on the suitability of accommodation venues.   A lot of holiday accommodation outlets tell you they are wheelchair friendly, but they are not.  

“I have had some really awful experiences.    I once called a hotel to check that their shower had a rail in it so I could shower myself.   When I arrived to the hotel, there was a rail, but the rail was inside a glass shower cubicle.  I couldn’t get my wheelchair in the cubicle, let alone my chair and carer.    So I had to shower outside at the pool shower every day which was freezing cold.   It was either that or go home.

“I have arrived at a disability friendly hotel room, only to find there was a ledge on the front door, and I couldn’t get my wheelchair through the door."

Sadly, Ms Barton's story is not unique.  Many people including older holiday goers suffer similar experiences.   Step in baths and shower units and uneven and slippery floors can increase the risk of falls and broken bones.   Older people are particularly prone to falls while on holidays. 

“This is the reason I have decided to do something about it.   I would like to raise enough funds to build or purchase and adapt a fully wheelchair friendly holiday accommodation venue on the Sunshine Coast for people with disabilities and mobility issues," Ms Barton added. 

“I have set up a crowdfunding campaign on Go Fund Me called ‘Ramp to Paradise’ and I would like to raise enough money to get the first disability holiday accommodation venue up and running.   I call it ‘Choose Ability Accommodation’ – because that is what it should deliver, the ability for people with a disability to enjoy a holiday – just like everyone else wherever they choose.

“The campaign will help to provide people with mobility restrictions the ability to have a holiday and keep their dignity and self respect intact so they can enjoy themselves at a destination of their choice.

“I would like to start with one venue and hopefully build more across other parts of the country.

“We just need people to donate money to help raise the necessary funds to get the first holiday accommodation up and running.”

 Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/ramp-to-paradise

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