Dr. Scott Rains’ Success In Helping Others with Accessible Travel

Editor’s Note: The real key to success is taking your disability and turning it into an advantage- it’s about what you can do, not what you cannot do. In the story of Dr. Scott Rains, a consultant on travel and disability, you’ll see that his wheelchair has become his marketing tool. Dr. Rains, “New Mobility” magazine’s Person of the Year, is known worldwide for opening up many countries, businesses and vacation sites to physically challengedindividuals and has enabled these places to become more inclusive. Part 4 of a 5 part series.

Scott Rains is all about inclusive tourism when it comes to people with disabilities.

Scott Rains is a leading advocate for inclusive tourism.

I’ve always noticed that the lodging I went to when I traveled overseas were very customer service oriented. Oftentimes, the manager of the lodging would come and ask me, “What can we do better to make our rooms more accessible for people in wheelchairs?”

Then I talked to them about the standards that we had for disabled people in America, and the building codes that had been put in place in recent years to make sure that people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities were considered when buildings were built. Even outside the U.S., many of the facilities where I stayed were familiar the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the building codes that had been changed. Also, they were familiar with the Air Carrier Access Act, which covers the needs of people with disabilities on airplanes.

I was doing quite a bit of informal accessibility audits and giving advice to property owners on how they could make their properties more inclusive for all people with disabilities. Next I started being invited to places to speak on this subject as a visiting journalist. A couple of years ago, I was invited to South Africa by three different provinces to look at their tourism products, before the 2010 World Cup soccer match took place. I was also invited to speak to the United Nations in 2007 at a conference in Asia on tourism and disability. The U.N. in Bangkok hosted the meeting.

During the 10 years I decided not to travel and was furthering my education and working for non-profits, I often talked to my wife about all the places I’d gone and the things I’d seen. She became very interested, and we started saving our money. I also noticed that change was taking place in the United States, and more tourist destinations were becoming conscious of the fact that people with disabilities did travel.

The very first trip that I took was to Brazil after my 10 years of not traveling out of the country. During those 10 years, I had gotten a master’s degree in pastoral studies and a doctorate in applied theology, which is called pastoral ministries today. I more or less functioned as a pastor of a church when I was at Benedictine University.

Scott Rains at Toca Waterfalls on Ilhabela in São Paulo state, Brazil getting help from a native.

Scott Rains at Toca Waterfalls on Ilhabela in São Paulo state, Brazil getting help from a native.

My particular focus was on service to the community – specifically the alleviation of poverty. I also found that because I was disabled and in a wheelchair, I’d be asked to speak at retreats and frequently asked to write articles for different publications about my experiences as a person with a disability. I spoke on equality of the disabled, and being non-discriminatory and non-prejudiced toward people with disabilities.

All these different jobs and ministries often were taking place at the same time. I was a linguist and a pastor, who also worked in non-profits and spoke and wrote about travel accessibility. I did travel assessments on a wide variety of venues. The non-profits that I worked for had the same values I did, and the values that I believed in came through a very thorough study of the New Testament Gospels

Scott Rains is all about helping other people. Scott posted this photo showing how special it is.

Scott Rains is all about helping other people. He posted this photo showing how special that really is.

One of the first things I did publicly was to make a presentation in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil at the International Conference on Universal Design at a conference titled, “Designing for the Twenty First Century.” I did a pre-conference one day workshop on universal design and tourism that people from all over the world attended. Several other people, who had worked in universal design and had backgrounds in tourism, helped me with this one day seminar.

After that conference, I began my work with companies from other countries and put together a team of people I could call on for specific needs of these companies to make suggestions for designs that would make their facilities more inclusion friendly.

To learn more about Dr. Scott Rains, please visit his blog.

Next: Greater Accessibility Means More Money With Dr. Scott Rains

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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