The white sand beaches, fine restaurants and miles of walking trails make Cape Cod the tourist mecca that it is. But, for those with disabilities, the enjoyment may seem like it’s out of reach.
Not so, said Cathy Taylor, assistant director of Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled, or CORD.
“You need to be proactive,” she said.
There are several agencies and websites available to plan your vacation, via local and state agencies, and if you need assistance or equipment while here, that can be arranged.
Just because a hotel or restaurant says it’s accessible, doesn’t mean it’s right for every disability, she said. Call ahead and ask if there are stairs, a ramp or an elevator, or if there’s more than one floor, Taylor recommended. Some disabled people might be able to deal with a single step up into a shop; others can’t, she said.
Plus, the wide range of disabilities isn’t limited to just mobility. For instance, people with chemical sensitivity should check ahead with the hotel at which they plan to stay about the cleaning products used there, she said.
“It’s always worth a call,” she said. “You just don’t know. You want to know before you are here.”
CORD provides technical advice free of charge to businesses seeking to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are tax credits that can help businesses afford improvements, she added.
She also urged visitors who find violations to report them.
“We want people to enjoy themselves on the Cape,” she said.
There Are Several Helpful Websites
The Cape’s beautiful beaches draw tourists, but they’re difficult or impossible to navigate in a wheelchair or walker. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce maintains an online list of accessible beaches which details which ones have lightweight wheelchairs built for use on sand, as well as floating surf chairs, ramps and walkways, and over-sand mats.
The web page, titled Accessible Cape Cod, includes museums and attractions, walks and trails, transportation, lodging and restaurants – though so far only Hyannis restaurants are featured. Many of the hotels on the list offer pool lifts. It also mentions local medical equipment supply stores.