Four Great Mobile Apps for Travelers Who Live With Paralysis

Disabled person in wheelchair using cell phone

Travel – especially air travel – is never easy for people who live with paralysis, but the good news is that things are slowly improving. 

For example, airlines are finally making it easier to book a ticket on a suitable aircraft. They’re also starting to make airplane bathrooms more accessible, hiring customer service agents who are trained to help people with disabilities, and taking other steps. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

And here’s another piece of good news:  There are now several mobile apps for people with disabilities that are designed to make travel more accessible and less overwhelming. Here’s a brief description of each, along with links where you can learn more about them and download them to your phone. Hopefully one or more of these will make your next trip a bit more relaxing and enjoyable.

accessibleGO

When it comes to traveling with a disability, finding an accessible place to stay is right up there with airplane travel in the aggravation department. accessibleGO wants to change that. It’s sort of like Booking.com for people with disabilities, allowing you to search for lodging that isn’t just billed as “accessible”, but that has specific things you might need like roll-in showers, accessible bathtubs, accessible swimming pools, outdoor space for service dogs, and more. 

Once you book, an accessibleGO team member will contact your hotel directly to confirm that your accessibility requests can be accommodated and advocate for your specific needs. In addition to booking a room, you can book a flight and rent a vehicle with a hand control or a wheelchair-accessible van. 

The site has also partnered with Scootaround to let you rent mobility equipment at your destination. And it has partnered with Jayride to offer wheelchair-accessible rides; just fill out an online form to make a reservation. 

In addition, accessibleGO has guides to major U.S. cities like Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Boston, with accessibility information, suggested itineraries, and more. Finally, travelers from all over the world can come together in the site’s online community to ask questions, get answers, share travel tips, and make friends.

“Our goal here at accessibleGO is to enable travelers with disabilities to get their accessibility needs met, no matter where they are going or what their needs are so that they feel comfortable to take that trip,” co-founder and CEO Miriam E told Thrillist

Google Maps

It’s beyond frustrating to find a store or restaurant that you really want to go to, only to discover once you get there that you can’t even get in with your wheelchair. Fortunately, Google Maps has a feature for people with disabilities that can keep this from happening.

The app’s “Accessible Places” tool, which you need to turn on in the app, indicates whether a particular location has an accessible entrance. You’ll also be able to see if it has accessible seating, restrooms, and parking. If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, Maps shows that, too.

You can also find accessible transit with Google Maps. To do that on an Apple or Android device:

  • In the search bar, enter your destination.
  • In the list of results, tap the location you want.
  • Tap Directions and then Transit Transit
  • Tap Options.
  • Under “Routes,” tap Wheelchair accessible and then Back Back.
  • Choose your route

Google says that Maps has wheelchair accessibility information for more than 15 million places around the world. That number has more than doubled since 2017 thanks to more than 120 million local guides, store owners, and others who have contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates.

Roadtrippers

Lots of people use the Roadtrippers app to choose destinations and stops along a particular route. However, the service has recently updated its app to meet the needs of travelers with disabilities. 

Using the app, you can filter searches for attractions and destinations based on wheelchair accessibility. There’s also plenty of user-provided information and feedback to let you know if a place is really accessible or not. 

MyTSA

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn’t have the best reputation; I get really tired of being manually searched for every single flight just because I walk with crutches. However, I am pretty impressed with the TSA Cares program. 

TSA Cares provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, and others who need additional assistance with information to better prepare them for the security screening process. It also tries to make screening easier for people with disabilities by, for example, eliminating the requirement to remove your shoes or unpack your bags. 

The program is available at all U.S. airports. There’s also an app called MyTSA that allows you to:

  • Learn about disability accommodations at various airports
  • Quickly search which items you can bring with you through the checkpoint onto the airplane
  • Check the delay information at your favorite airports nationwide
  • Check how busy the airport is likely to be on your specific day and time of travel based on historical data
  • Consult the TSA Guide on how to prepare for and get through the security checkpoint quickly
  • Discover which airports and airlines support TSA PreCheck®, and learn how to sign-up
  • Request live assistance from TSA through the AskTSA social media integration

Have you used any of these apps? If so, let us know how you liked them in the comments. And if there are any I missed, mention them as well.

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