Strokecast

Episode 006 — Meet AbiliTrek

In this week’s episode, I talk with Daman Wandke, the founder and CEO of AbiliTrek, and Kyann Flint, the CAO of AbiliTrek.  More than 19 million people with disabilities travel each year in the US. They are working to make that experience better. Here is some background on them from the AbiliTrek page.


Daman Wandke – Founder, CEO

Daman@AbiliTrek.com

Daman Wandke, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer, as well as a technology consultant and national disability advocate. Daman is an avid traveler; traveling for both business and pleasure. “Seeing that travelers with disabilities need to be able to travel without having to worry about not having an appropriate hotel room when they arrive at their destination”, Daman set out to find a solution; hence, the birth of AbiliTrek. AbiliTrek’s goal is to empower the disability community with the Ability to Trek without boundaries.

Before working on AbiliTrek full time, he was an Accessibility Analyst at SSB BART Group, an IT accessibility consulting firm, where he performed audits of clients’ websites, mobile applications, and other IT products. He currently serves on two nonprofit Boards of Directors, the Northwest Access Fund and PolicyWorks. Daman brings to AbiliTrek his technology and business knowledge with his first-hand experience of traveling with a disability.

Kyann Flint – Chief Accessibility Officer
Kyann@AbiliTrek.com
Kyann Flint, the Chief Accessibility Officer, is an alum of Western Washington University where she studied Political Science and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences. A passionate disability advocate, Kyann’s motto is to Defy the Defined Disability – she blogs her insights at Life from a Lame Perspective where she shares her experiences as a person who is wheelchair mobile and the frustrations that come from society’s social barriers. Flint, loves writing, spending time with her fabulous friends and family, exploring the outdoors, drinking really good tea and coffee and of course, traveling!

Special thanks to my awesome OT Olivia for connecting us.

AbiliTrek is developing a crowdsourced and crowdfunded platform to develop a detailed review site for travel and restaurant services that focuses on the details of accessibility issues. Since accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all thing, simply saying something is accessible doesn’t really give us enough information.  AbiliTrek aims to solve that problem.

You can learn more in this episode, and you can check out their Indiegogo for more information or to help fund it.  Here is a video about the project.

 

During the talk Daman and Kyann shared a number of tips for travel and for business. Here are a few of them

  • Call ahead to your prospective hotel and ask detailed questions about accessible rooms. Just because it’s accessible, doesn’t mean it has a roll in shower.
  • Ask them to email you pictures of the room if you’re not sure.
  • If you reserve an accessible room and they give it away before you check in, they need to find you one at another hotel.
  • Most complimentary hotel airport shuttles are not wheel chair compatible. In that case the hotel must pay for alternative transportation between the airport and hotel.
  • If your wheel chair has removable parts, take them off before checking your chair at the airport. If you don’t they will get broken or lost.
  • Get multiple gate check tickets for the different parts of a wheel chair incase the get separated or lost.
  • Don’t just reserve an accessible room. when you make the reservation contact the hotel and ask them to block that specific room for you.
  • When you fly with a wheelchair, you will likely be the first one on the plane and the last one off. This makes your flight longer.
  • Always plan on a long layover. Don’t try to cut it close.
  • Have business cards for yourself and organization when you meet people.
  • Build, maintain, and rely on your network.
  • When you have an idea for a business, take some time to map it out in detail to think through challenges and opportunities.
  • If your interested in a project, find folks who’ve done it or something similar before and learn from them.
  • Volunteer leadership positions are a great way to gain experience and grow your network.
  • If you have a tech startup, know that you are likely to pivot, and be ready to do so before it’s too late.

For me, the most important take-away is if you have a disability and an idea for a business or desire to travel — go do it.

For more information about AbiliTrek, you can engage with them here:

Hack of the Week

Get a second cane (or other mobility aid).

Climbing stairs can be hard. It can be even harder when you’re carrying a cane, too, right? After all, you are going to need that cane at the other end of the steps.

Unless, of course, you have another cane.

I have my main cane (s) for use downstairs and when I go out. I also have another cane that I keep upstairs. No need to bring one on the stairs with me.

Where do we go from here?

  1. Check out AbiliTrek’s Indiegogo Campaign
  2. Follow AbiliTrek on their assorted social media channels
  3. Do you travel with a disability? What are your thoughts and experiences? Tell us in the comments below.
  4. Subscribe to Strokecast in your favorite podcast app.
  5. Don’t get best…get better.

 

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