Historical Travel for Special Needs Visitors

Historical Travel for Special Needs Visitors

Posted on September 11, 2014 by ECR Louisville in Blog, Vacations

Are you someone who loves history and who likes to visit historical sites?
Are you concerned that when you visit a historical site, it may be inaccessible?

Have you ever yearned to walk the cobblestone streets of Boston, visit the museums and monuments in our nation’s capital, pay homage to the cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or tour the Calhoun Mansion in the gorgeous antebellum world of Charleston?

As a person with a disability there is always a concern when traveling. This concern grows when visiting historical sites. Historically, most buildings and landscapes were not built for people with disabilities. However, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and access to public properties became a civil rights issue and emphasis was placed on preserving historically significant properties, and making them and the activities within them, more accessible to people with disabilities.

Properties that are currently on  the National Register of Historic Places, properties that are eligible for this listing, or properties designated as historic under their state or local law have less rigorous requirements if complying with the ADA would threaten their historical significance. As the case may often be, many historical sites do not alter interiors of the buildings but will, whenever possible, create an entry to the building through a primary public entrance. In historic buildings, if this cannot be achieved without permanent damage to character-defining features, at least one public entrance should be made accessible and if it is not the primary public entrance, directional signs often direct visitors to the accessible entrance.  Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is partially accessible to wheelchairs AND they offer sign language tours and touch tours that can be reserved two weeks in advance.

To allow visitors with disabilities a positive experience many historical sites now provide an accessible entrance with partial grounds accessibility. If the building is more than one story, access to the upper floors may be difficult or impossible. To counter act this dilemma, some sites provide areas of accessibility, such as an informative visitors center, an  interactive cafe, or an area of exploration and explanation which will provide explanatory pictorials (including braille) and videos of the upper level floors.

For those who like to explore the landscape of a historical venue, it is comforting to know that the  grounds of many historical sights have been modified to allow easier access to wheelchairs and walking paths that allow a comfortable, casual stroll of the property.

Keep in mind that historic sites may not be required to make modifications for accessibility, but many are very welcoming to guests with disabilities and offer some phenomenal discounts. For example,  Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia provides visitors with a map that has all accessible areas marked and they offer discount tickets  for guests with disabilities.

Are you feeling historical and ready to explore? Do not think you can’t, know that you can!
Contact your Special Needs Vacation by V consultant today!