Reeve Summit 2021 Workshop: Empowering Travel Through Self-Advocacy in a Post-Covid World

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on April 15, 2021 # Reeve Summit

Reeve Summit 2021 Workshop: Empowering Travel Through Self-Advocacy in a Post-Covid World

Even though COVID-19 has put a damper on non-essential travel, by all indications, travel among people living with paralysis had been booming. The most recent pre-Covid travel data paints a picture of people on the move despite limitations in mobility. Still, a disproportionate number of individuals with disabilities avoid travel when compared to individuals without disability, often due to perceived barriers.

A workshop at the upcoming Reeve Summit 2021 (April 27-29) will explore the barriers, real and perceived, to traveling with a disability. “Empowered to Travel Through Self-Advocacy” brings together three experts in accessible travel – two rehab specialists and an ADA-compliance officer -- to help people with paralysis feel more confident traveling.


Learn About Resources to Make All Phases of Travel as Stress-Free as Possible

The three panelists will provide tips and tools to empower independent travel based on their collective experience. They will review current laws pertaining to accessibility in air travel, cruise travel, and hotel accommodations. Participants will learn about resources that can help make their travel experience as stress-free as possible at every stage of travel: planning and making reservations, arriving at the terminal, boarding the plane or ship, arriving at the destination, and more.

A central focus will be how to self-advocate through all phases, understanding when and to whom one should advocate, and how to problem-solve through any surprises along the journey. Panelists will answer participants’ questions in a live virtual Q & A near the end of the session.

Poll: 27 Million Travelers with Disabilities Spent Nearly $60 Billion on Travel in 2018-19

Travel marketers from resorts to airlines and cruise lines are beginning to wake up to the spending power of people with disabilities. That’s in part due to a nationwide study – now in its fourth installment --by the non-profit Open Doors Organization, which parses the travel patterns and spending of American adults with disabilities. The 2020 Market Study, conducted by The Harris Poll in June/July 2020, focuses on 2018-19 when travel was still booming. During that 2-year period, 27 million travelers with a disability took a total of 81 million trips. They spent $58.7 billion on their own travel, up from $34.6 billion in 2015. Spending on air travel reached $11 billion, up from $9 billion in 2015.

Reeve Summit Panelists Advocate for Empowerment and Inclusion to Make Travel Accessible

The rehab specialists on the panel are from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, one of the leading spinal cord injury rehabilitation centers in the country. Cecilia Rider, MS, CTRS, Associate Manager of Shepherd’s Recreation Therapy department, coordinates disability awareness education and hands-on staff training for TSA, Delta, and others through the center’s accessible travel education program. Katie Murphy, CTRS, is a Lead Recreation Therapist at the Shepherd Center, where one of her responsibilities is to educate and empower people with paralysis to travel post-injury.

Ron Pettit is an advocate for disability inclusion. As Director of Disability Inclusion & ADA Compliance at Royal Caribbean Group, he leads a team of 23 people focused on making sure guests with disabilities have a great cruise experience, and Royal employees with disabilities have a great job experience.

Second Annual Reeve Summit April 27-29 Features 40+ Virtual Sessions on Paralysis Topics

The second annual Reeve Summit: Where Care, Cure and Community Connect takes place April 27-29, 2021. “Empowered to Travel Through Self-Advocacy” (April 28, 2-3 p.m.) is one of more than 40 virtual sessions. The Summit will explore topics relevant to the paralysis community, including advocacy, caregiving, employment, research, and health and wellness. Participants around the globe will have a chance to hear from experts, ask questions, and share their own experiences of living with paralysis.


The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.