Perspective is everything.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at something from someone else’s point of view. That’s part of the message that Buffalo resident, Nick Heilig, is trying to get across.
Heilig, who lives with a disability that requires him to use a wheelchair, operates Full Access Travel, a travel, dining and entertainment blog. The blog reviews venues, events, restaurants, hotels, airlines, and businesses and rates them based on their accessibility.
“There wasn’t really anything out there for people in wheelchairs and with disabilities in general,” Heilig shared. “I created the site to help others and give positive feedback for different destinations. If changes need to be made, then I hope they take what I’m sharing and make those changes.”
So far, Heilig is proud to share that on at least two occasions, his reviews and comments have sparked change.
“I was talking to one restaurant owner and brought up the fact that the garbage can in the restroom had one of those foot pedals to open it. It’s a seemingly little thing, but it doesn’t work for someone in a wheelchair. They changed it right away.”
Heilig went on to share another story about a location that had a second floor but no elevator for someone in a wheelchair to access it. Shortly after it was brought to their attention, an elevator was installed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has its own set of standards, and as Heilig explained, some businesses go above and beyond to ensure they’re accessible—unfortunately, others do not.
“For me, it starts in the parking lot. I check to see where the handicap spots are. How easy are the doors to open and get through? Can my wheelchair fit under the table? Does it fit in the restrooms? Those kinds of things.”
“It’s very important to have a site dedicated to this and to get this information out,” Heilig said. “So many people don’t understand the things people in my situation go through or look for when going to a certain venue. It will help the businesses and help those who may be unsure about going out because they don’t know what to expect.”
While his reviews are currently focused on the Buffalo-area, Heilig would eventually like to expand the Full Access Travel site to include reviews for other places in-state, out-of-state, and around the country.
In addition to expanding his coverage area, Heilig would like to help business owners understand the needs of all people with disabilities, including those who utilize electric wheelchairs, as well as hearing and visually impaired patrons. Heilig even talked about the possibility of adding video and other resources to the blog to make it more accessible.
Interested in contributing? Not only is Heilig actively seeking sponsors for the blog, he’s also looking for help reviewing spots around town. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or check them out on Facebook at Full Access Travel or on Twitter @fullaccesstrav.