Special Needs Practicalities
Information Sources and Other Help
Useful Operators and Organisations
Practicalities Other Special Needs
Legislation plus changing attitudes mean that travelling is getting much easier for those with special needs and their families.
A rough rule of thumb is that the less developed the area, the less accepting people may be of any handicap. Even in a country like Greece, in rural areas a handicapped child may be regarded as a sign of punishment for the parents and/or the child. However, this is not hard and fast. Rural China is reported to be more accepting for example.
What is true is that the more prosperous the country, the better the facilities for those with physical handicaps.
North America is generally good but much of northern Europe is also improving. In the UK the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, makes it an offence for businesses to provide disabled people with service inferior to that offered to able-bodies people. From 1999 businesses have had to take ‘reasonable steps' to adapt their properties for customers with disabilities and the process should be completed by 2004.
Note that the act does not apply to aviation but the International Civil Aviation Organisation and European Civil Aviation Conference are working on voluntary guidelines.
In the UK under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act of 1970 Social Services Departments have a duty to assess a person with special needs for a specific list of services which includes holidays.
Under this ruling a family with a member with special needs can approach the local Social Services Department and ask to take part in a holiday organised by the department or to receive financial or other assistance in making holiday arrangement.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in employment, in the provision of goods and services, and the letting of premises.
Since October 1999 service providers have to make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people, for example providing extra help, auxiliary aids or changing the way the service is provided.
From October 2004 Part 3 of the DDA requires all service providers to make 'reasonable adjustments' to any barriers which might make it impossible or 'unreasonably difficult' for disabled people to use their services.
If there is a medical problem you may have difficulty getting travel insurance. However, the relevant support groups can often help and arrange insurance. This should not be significantly more expensive than normal and may well involve little more than a phone medical check.
(updated 06 December, 2007)