According to a study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) in March 2013 (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1568518), baby boomers are twice as likely to use an assistive walking device than the generation before them. These individuals, who may have disabilities or simply be “slow walkers,” also make up a significant part of the $13.6 billion per year accessible travel segment and $192 billion mature adult/slow walker segment, the fastest-growing market segments in travel.
Special Needs Group, Inc. (SNG) www.specialneedsgroup.com, the leading global provider of wheelchair, scooter, oxygen and other special needs equipment rentals, provides the following reasons why baby boomers are using assistive walking devices more than their parents, and how this affects their ability to travel:
- Advancements in technology. During the years when baby boomers’ parents started developing walking disabilities due to age, etc., the technology/products available today simply didn’t exist. Comfortable and easy-to-use scooters, wheelchairs, powerchairs, beach wheelchairs, rollators and more assistive walking devices have been introduced only in the past few decades.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law just 23 years ago in 1990. This law, which established a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability, has allowed American society to change its mindset with regard to special needs.
Since the ADA’s inception, there have been significant changes within the travel industry including accessibility across the fleet for cruise ships, including foreign-flagged vessels carrying U.S. passengers; plus more ramps, railings and grab bars in public venues. A deepening respect and higher level of acceptance for all forms of ability differences have occurred.
- The “stigma” of using assistive walking devices is disappearing. Today, with advanced technology and wider acceptance of individuals with disabilities, the use of assistive walking devices is a normal, standard occurrence.
With the help of organizations such as Special Needs Group, SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality), and CLIA (Cruise Line International Association), the travel industry has made great strides in accommodating individuals who use assistive walking devices. Baby boomers, whose travel dreams may not have reached fruition had they been part of the previous generation, now have the ability to travel the world without barriers, thanks to these devices and advancements.
“Today, the ability to use an assistive walking device is easier than ever, and it’s accepted more than at any other time in history,” said Andrew Garnett, president and CEO of Special Needs Group. “These devices can not only help travelers to realize their travel dreams, but tremendously enhance their ability to enjoy life in general.”
Special Needs Group (SNG) provides high-quality assistive walking devices rentals for travel including scooters (standard, heavy duty and bariatric), wheelchairs (transport, standard, heavy duty and bariatric), powerchairs (standard, heavy duty and bariatric), walking aids (rolling, knee and standard walkers), as well as oxygen rentals and other special needs equipment rentals. SNG also offers a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase, including the Joy on the Beach wheelchair, equipped with innovative wheels that make it easy to roll from the beach into the open water for access to swimming.