Meet Jane: A Traveler on Wheels

Jane Stillwell continues to pursue her travels in a motorized wheelchair despite the challenges that she has faced in the past. Being from Canada where there is no set standard for accessible parking, Jane has noticed some ways that we are still behind in regard to having a universal model for accessibility. For example, she mentioned how sometimes the accessibility parking spots are so big that when other people park by them, they go beyond the line. What the definition of ‘accessibility’ is for someone like Jane can vary among individuals given that there are multiple different types of wheelchairs that also have their own subsets of variations for each.

When Jane visited her friends when they lived in New Jersey she had to take her chair with her through customs and disconnect the batteries. At one point, while she was in customs, the pilot announced a “mechanical issue” that was actually an issue of lifting Jane’s chair onto the plane. Additionally, her luggage had been lost.

She also mentioned having been on a number of cruises and found them, for the most part, very accessible, especially the ships themselves.  Some of the ports she visited were a challenge but she expected that and could plan accordingly. She said that New York City was very accessible.

A couple of places Jane has visited that were “surprisingly not high on the accessibility spectrum” were Miami because of its lack of accessible taxis. London, and England in general, were a bit of a problem too. “We only found one station that had an elevator all the rest either had stairs or escalators. Hotels and public washrooms were also an issue. I found a lot of the reasonably priced hotels did not have elevators and public washrooms were locked.” Jane explained that you could get a universal key for the washrooms but you had to be a resident to obtain one, “mind you this happened quite a few years ago so things could have improved since then.”

Jane has a great passion for travel and continues to seek adventure despite the continued challenges that she faces in cities and at airports.