ETC Starts Wheelchair Simulation - Disability Awareness Training
Easy Tour China is a China based travel agency that has been delivering guided, easy and accessible China tour packages for people with disabilities.
We wholeheartedly believe that when assisting disabilities to plan their China vacation and to make the most of their time travelling, we should know what it is really like to have a disability, and better understand the disability experience. For years, we’ve been learning, by sending people to travel with our handicapped clients, to be wheelchair pusher, talking with them about their needs, and asking for feedbacks what & how we need to improve on the service.
And today, we start a wheelchair simulation, to raise awareness on accessibility and promote disabled travel to China.
We experience what is like to travel around in a wheelchair
It was a bright sunny day. We had 7 people of Easy Tour China team, including travel consultant, product manager and marketing member joined today’s activity of wheelchair simulation, which was supported by Guilin Disabled Person's Federation.
Half of us were given a wheelchair and asked to use it for about an hour, performing daily activities without using our legs, while the other half took photos and videos. Then we switched over.
Instead of just pretending to have a disability, the simulation was aiming to give all of us a chance to practice using wheelchair and some assistive devices.
First, we learned how to operate the wheelchair correctly and efficiently. Mr. Qin, a senior member of Guilin Disabled Person's Federation was our instructor, who demonstrated to unlock the wheelchair and steer it forward on the flat course.
Second, we simulated going up the small steps and steer downhill. We were also tought how to push the wheelchair when uphill and downhill.
Third, the team continued to simulate a loss of movement in the legs in the accessible Jiaxin Hotel. We operated the wheelchair to take the elevator and enter the hotel lobby. Then it was the time to simulate when staying in a hotel room. Jiaxin Hotel, one of the wheelchair-friendly hotels in Guilin, offers accessible rooms and assistive devices. So it was a great opportunity for us to know what difficulties our handicap clients may encounter and what kind of hotel they would expect. We learned how to transfer from a wheelchair onto a chair in the shower and onto the closestool by using our upper body with the “hop-over” method.
The simulation was fun and memorable for us, even though we got extremely frustrated at the very beginning and when we couldn’t use the legs at all. Moreover, it is valuable experience for us, as we are offering China travel service for people with disabilities. And we want to do the best.
What do we learn from the simulation activity?
After the simulation session, the team had a discussion mainly about three questions. Here below we also give the answers. So you may have a better understanding and plan on your trip to China.
What do our wheelchair-user clients need when traveling in China?
- A travel agency, like Easy Tour China, who can book for you the flights (as well as the special access and service for the wheelchair user), accommodations, vehicle, restaurants and local guide (who has experience in leading tours for people of disabilities).
- Your own China itinerary, with wheelchair accessible destinations and accessible attractions.
- Travel with family or friends.
- Hire a pusher. If you travel alone, a pusher is needed, to save your enegery, so that you can focus on the sightseeing.
- All accessible hotels/rooms & restaurants.
- Positive attitude.
Is China wheelchair friendly?
During the discussion, and based on the information we receive from our local partners in different parts of China, we generally agree (and have to admit) that mainland China remains far from wheelchair friendly. Nevertheless, things are getting better and better – especially after the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games (hopefully the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics Games will be further beneficial to the accessibility) - the public has been gradually educated about the disabilities and raised the awareness around disabilities; the pubic accessible facilities (e.g. hotels, attractions, restaurants, public toilets, etc.), especially in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, are has been gradually improved; many famous attractions like the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum are accessible by wheelchair.
Still you’re suggested to lower your expectations as you travel in China.
Can we satisfy our wheelchair-user clients on their China trip?
Easy Tour China has 10+ years of experience of delivering China handicap tours. We know we can help. After acquiring more knowledge and experience, despite that China’s current situation of wheelchair accessible infrastructure is still under development and may not meet your expectations, we will try our best to make your holiday in China smooth and satisfied.
Just as Easy Tour China founder Wei says, “It will be an adventure for handicap travelers, and we will make your adventure in China the best one!”
To achieve this goal, we are going to design and carry on more similar simulation activities in the next months. We will use wheelchair across the street, entering into the parks and scenic spots, passing through ancient city gate, and even checking in and out the railway station. Stay tuned!