Accommodating Outdoor Enthusiasts With Disabilities
Lawrence Euteneier

Lawrence accompanied by his guide dog Maestro, led a keynote session at the NOTO Convention. Lawrence’s session was a favourite of many delegates.

Outfitters are reporting increasing numbers of requests for special accommodations from outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities. At the same time, accessibility legislation in the U.S. and Canada has raised the bar in terms of the level of accessibility customers expect when they book their vacations. These trends can be attributed to the average age of the outdoor enthusiast increasing and with age, disability often comes.

17% of people between the ages of 40 and 65 and 40% of those between the ages of 65 and 75 have at least one disability. The rate goes up to 53% for those over the age of 75. With more than 48 million Americans and 3.4 million Canadians with disabilities can you really afford not to make accommodations?

Accommodations can be relatively inexpensive and simple to implement if you include the principal of “access for all” in the design stage of your facilities and services. Retrofitting can be more costly, but simple short-term solutions can meet your immediate needs if implemented correctly. Most provincial building codes now include detailed standards for accessible building designs however little published information exists on accessible designs for assets such as docks, paths, boats, outhouses, fish-cleaning stations, hunting blinds, etc.

As a person with a disability myself, my love for the great outof- doors led to my acquiring a Masters in environmental studies with a specialization in designing environments accessible to everyone. I’ve lived in Canada’s Arctic to research traditional Inuit accommodation strategies, resided in Sweden to document their innovative integration solutions, served as the “Special Advisor” on accessibility to Canada’s Senate, supervised the construction of numerous fully-accessible residential and commercial facilities, and ultimately designed the world’s first fishing boat for the blind.

If you are thinking of making some changes at your place of business to accommodate guests with disabilities but aren’t sure how or where to start give me a call.

www.blindfishingboat.com

I can help with design, marketing strategies, testing of products for accessibility and usability, conduct environmental accessibility assessments, and sensitivity/etiquette training. I also organize Canadian Fishing Adventures for guests with disabilities from around the world. For more information visit http://www.blindfishingboat.com or contact me directly by phone at (613) 232-2028 or by email at info@blindfishingboat.com

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