Trekking mobility chairs make planet accessible to all

Travelers challenged with mobility issues often had to take a back seat to adventure travelers in the past, viewing dreams-of-a-lifetime from a distance. Now, dedicated companies and organizations are making destinations around the planet accessible to all, even in unlikely places.

Visiting Italy‘s iconic attractions can be a daunting task for the handicapped. Ancient ruins, preserved and protected to maintain their integrity, are far-removed from today’s accessibility laws that bring ramps, assistance and modified facilities. In the past, challenged travelers would most commonly view popular sites such as the Roman Forum, Pompeii and Herculaneum from a distance. Now, a specially designed trekking-wheelchair makes destination immersion possible for many disabled travelers.

“It is our great pleasure to make all of Italy accessible to everyone who would like to visit. This chair is the first of its kind and opens doors to those challenged by walking on our country’s ancient streets,” says Program Director Stefano Sghinolfi of Rome and Italy Tourist Services.

Using a one-of-a-kind chair, every Italian archaeological site can be visited by those with mobility challenges, no matter what the ground surface might be. Using a seat and frame with only one wheel, two arms in the front and back to support the chair when not in motion and allow for movement up or down hills.

The chair is easily rolled and carried by two trained guides and offers 360° degree maneuverability around obstacles such as centuries-old stones or holes and ancient streets or steps.

Another trekking wheelchair is the Black Diamond TrailRider, developed for the British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society (BCMOS) in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

The single-wheeled TrailRider looks like a cross between a rickshaw and a wheelbarrow and has opened the door to wilderness areas in the United States, Canada and the Himalayas. Two times, this one has made the 19,334-foot ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

Photo of the Day (06.29.08)

Check out this great night shot of the Roman Forum by stevenduke. The Forum is one of the more surreal places you’ll visit if you go to Rome, and I think stevenduke’s photo really captures that feeling. The Forum is known as the historic heart of this Italian city – a collection of aging marble monuments that once represented the political center of the world’s greatest empire. These same columns and stones that once echoed with the voices of great emperors and philosophers now stand silent – a magnificent yet mysterious reminder of what once was.

I get that same feeling of mystery when I look this photo. It looks like stevenduke used an extra long shutter to flood this night shot with some extra light, giving it a very dramatic yet lonely feeling to it. You almost feel as though the ghost of Augustus Caesar might be walking among the ruins below.

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