When I started writing about accessible travel almost 25 years ago, I was definitely the odd duck in the pond. I remember approaching tourism reps and explaining my niche — travel for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Usually the response was a polite smile, a nod, a deafening silence or the ever so popular, “we have accessible restrooms in our visitor center” reply.
While I certainly don’t long for those days, it seems that things have come full circle today, and now accessible travel is the cool niche. And although this visibility is a good thing, it is a double-edged sword. Everyone wants accessible travel content, but the majority of folks don’t want to take the time to appropriately research it, which unfortunately has led to a glut of misinformation. And the internet has made it easy to cobble together articles by cherry picking “facts” from online “resources” that may or may not have been properly researched.
So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff as far as reliable and accurate accessible travel content is concerned? Truth be told there’s not one sure-fire test, but here are a few tips that will help you weed out those poorly researched pieces — ones in which the writers have never actually visited the destinations in question — and direct you to the more useful and accurate access resources.
Watch the Language
In this day and age of outsourcing tasks, writing is no different. In fact there are many sites online that offer custom content for as little as $5. And to be honest, who can blame people for going the economical route when building a website? The thing is, you get what you pay for, and in many cases this content is being crafted by folks who speak very little English, and just put their finished work through an on-line translator. And of course, for $5 their research is almost non-existent. So, if you start to read an article that makes little sense and begins to sound like those e-mails that you receive from that Nigerian prince who wants to give you millions, chances are the rest of the content on that website is just as unbelievable.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Travel articles must have photos — there’s just no way to get around that requirement. That said, all photos are not created equal, as far as website usage is concerned. Be clear, I’m not talking about quality here, but instead photo content. Be wary of accessible travel articles that only show the beautiful glossy tourism photos, and have no specific access photos. For example, if an article talks about an accessible hotel, but includes a photo of the well manicured gardens under the hotel sign, but fails to include any photos of the accessible rooms, that’s a huge tip-off that the writer has never been in the accessible room. Chances are they are getting their access information second-hand, which in most cases is incorrect, or at the very least inaccurate. And for future reference, there are some good accessible hotel room shots in this article, emerginghorizons.com/a-romantic-retreat-on-the-mendocino-coast.