Episode: Accessible Austin

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

video transcript

Accessible Austin Show Summary

A Postcard style poster with clips from the show, and a postcard reading, "Having a great, accessible time in Austin, TX.  Wish you were here!"

Our Accessible Austin show gave us the opportunity to explore the transportation and accommodation options here in Austin.  Austin is a fantastic place to live, and it’s an incredible place to come visit, too. And with SXSW every year, man, people come by the millions.  This show should be especially helpful to people with disabilities who are planning on visiting Austin.  Longtime residents should also find helpful information.

Transportation

From out of town, if you come into the Airport, your hotel may pick you up.  If they have a complimentary shuttle, ask them if ask them if it’s accessible. If it isn’t, ask them if they’ll comp you for a taxi.  If not, try Supershuttle or our accessible taxis including Lone Star and Yellow Cab.  Amtrak is also another accessible option. If you want to take a train into Austin from outside, you can always see the countryside by taking an Amtrak train.

In town, use the Cap Metro bus or rail.  All are accessible.  For more info, see http://www.capmetro.org/  or call them at 512-474-1200.

And a place that we recommend for that is Austin Mobility Solutions. They’re located centrally in the Pflugerville area right off of I-35. They have vans that you can rent that are accessible that have easy locks, hand controls, or also cars with just hand controls in them. They also have an emergency service.  You can also find them online at austinmobility.com.  You can also rent vans from premierevanrentals.com.

There are several ways you can find accessible accommodations. If you like bed and breakfasts, try www.Airbnb.com.  But more than likely you may be staying in a hotel.  When making reservations, I always ask if they have discounts for AARP or any other types of discounts.

We were fortunate enough to have Tracy Terrell from the Marriott –  Courtyard and Residence Inn at Marriott show us around, and show us what a good accessible hotel room looks like.  Thanks Tracy.

I do have some suggestions for folks when they’re checking into a hotel. Ask the bell hop to go with you to the room. And you want to do this for several reasons. One, of course to carry your luggage, because we’re big stars; we don’t need to carry our luggage. But also when we get to the room, we’re going to want to make sure that everything — that we don’t have too much furniture in the room. Sometimes even though it’s an accessible room they’ll have several chairs there that might get in the way. You could ask the bell hop to take those out of the room. You can make sure that if it’s a hand-held shower, that it’s down where you can reach it, so you want to double-check that, make sure the towels and such are down low where you can reach them, and you also found out they got an accessible thermostat.

Austin is very accessible, and a lot of it is due to the part of a couple of organizations that are here in Austin. We mentioned CTD, or the Coalition for People with Disabilities. They do a great job at making sure that the legislators is on top of accessible rights and making sure that people with disabilities not only in Austin but in all of Texas, are getting the services that they need. And in addition to that, ADAPT here in town, which is a grassroots organization that does all kinds of things to get their point across, including camping out in the Governor’s office or handcuffing themselves to the gates of the Governor’s mansion or wherever else, they really pour their hearts into making sure that accessibility is met, and a lot of the bars in Austin now are accessible because last year to celebrate the ADA’s birthday, they went and protested several of the bars in downtown Austin because it’s a recreational activity that people want to know about.  It used to be that the Austin Visitor Bureau on 6th Street was not accessible. It was a two-inch lip to get in. It may not seem like much, but I couldn’t get in.  ADAPT sued them, now we can in.  And now it’s accessible.

Top Ten Accessibility Reasons to Live in Austin.

10.  School for the Blind and the School for the Deaf.   

That helps the people in Austin really become more acculturated to folks with disabilities. For example, there’s a church right across the School for the Deaf, the Jesus Christ Lutheran Church for the Deaf that has sign language services.

9.  The weather is really nice here and encourages outdoor use.

The snow and ice is not easy to get around at any time, but if you use a wheelchair or crutches or a cane, the snow and the ice is just incredibly bad and Austin very rarely gets that.

8.   Austin is the hub of accessible web content.

I’m talking about Knowbiity, the great business here in Austin, that works so much on web content, and Sharron Rush wrote a book on it.  We’ve got a lot of the leaders in accessible web content here, Sharron Rush, Jim Thatcher, Jim Allen, and others.  They have an AIR competition, Accessible Internet Rally, every year, where they have competitions. Various companies try to build the most accessible web page.

7.  The Austin Cultural Funding program.  

They help us out with some funding for our program. We’re very appreciate of that, but they also give money to VSA and other arts programs.

6.  Free accessible outdoor swimming pools. 

When I was living in South Austin, I would go swimming every week in Big Stacy Pool. They had a lift going into the pool. The pool was spring-fed with warm water and was open year round. So in the wintertime the lifeguards would be in these big coats, and we would just be in there swimming.

5.  ADAPT of Texas.

They have done so many great things to make sure that not only Austin but that Texas is accessible.  They’re extremely active in disability rights advocacy.

4. Coalition of Texans with Disability, headed by Dennis Borel. Dennis keeps us up to date on various legislation that would affect folks with disabilities. They also do a disability film fest. But Dennis was really instrumental in getting some funding for various programs for folks with disabilities, so the importance of CTD cannot be understated. Also, Dennis likes to think big. He did the Everest Expedition with folks with disabilities a few years back.

3.  Public transportation.

Whether you want to you want to ride on a bus or train, our public transportation is very accessible.

2.  The accessible arts.

VSA Texas, their gallery and film fest, Imagine Art, the CTD Film Fest, Forklift Danceworks that Allison Orr does, and just great arts programs in general.

1. Gene and Dave will show you around. And remember folks, everything’s bigger in Texas, including Gene and Dave.

Our guests:

Tracy Terrell    Tracy.Terrell@marriottaustindowntown.com

Director of Sales & Marketing

Courtyard & Residence Inn by Marriott Austin Downtown | Convention Center

Featuring Champions Restaurant & Sports Bar & Starbucks Coffee Shop

300 E. 4th Street | Austin, TX 78701 | ph – 512.691.9303 ext 6303

Resources

If you’re wondering about accessible hotel requirements, you can check out www.ada.gov or adahospitality.org, or the Southwest ADA Center here in Texas, which is www.dlrp.org. And they’ve got plenty of information for you folks there.

 Remember, watch the Gene and Dave Show on Channel Austin or on our Web site, www.thegeneanddaveshow.com.