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House Trading for the Handicapped

by Didier on February 2, 2011

By Didier Leclerc

The handicapped encounter great difficulties when traveling. It is difficult to find vacation accommodation that fits their needs and budget. They are confronted with obstacles such as cost, difficulty of access and unreliable information. Many vacation resorts claim they are accessible to those in a wheelchair but the reality proves otherwise.

Considering these facts home exchange between handicapped people is an excellent solution. They can travel at a lower cost. They know the swap homes are suited for them. The exchangers share information and advice that guarantee a successful vacation.

The principal home exchange agencies such as Homelink, Intervac, and HomeExchange.com have for many years facilitated exchange offers of handicapped persons. Advanced search engines make it easy to find handicapped accessible homes from the data base.

Recently specific home exchange agencies have been developed for the handicapped. They include E.L.S.A. (in French Echange de Logement et de Services Accessibles) and Handirem.

Aurélie Cevaër, a master’s degree student in tourism and leisure development has written a paper on the slowness of France as regards access for the handicapped visitor. E.L.S.A. was created due to her ideas and those of tourism professionals and handicapped citizens.

E.L.S.A. is today up and running supported by French organizations such as MATMUT, REUNICA, the region of Aquitaine, GIHP, and AFT. This project has received the Prize for Entrepreneurship in Social Economy given by Crédit Cooperatif.

With E.L.S.A. exchange listings are detailed as regards the nature of the handicap and the accessibility of the home and availability of specialized services. Members with a particular handicap can find others in the same situation. To make this easier members are required to indicate their disability. There are many categories such as physical, visual, hearing, psychological, or multiple handicaps.

Members on exchange can benefit from necessary equipment for daily life and a network of health care professionals. It is comforting and reassuring for members to know how to obtain care should it be needed.

Vacations in France or abroad can be organized in confidence. E.L.S.A. is actively developing its international network. Their website is available in English and French.

Photo by Dottie Mae.

Translator’s Notes. Two years ago I was working a home exchange booth at a Rotary Convention. A gentleman in a wheelchair rolled up and asked about exchange. I explained that he could search the database for accessible homes. He wondered if anybody wanted to trade with a guy in a wheelchair who lived in Chicago. A few hours later a lady in a wheelchair came by. She lived in the Midlands of England. I was more convincing than before, mentioning the gentleman who I had spoken with earlier. Yes, he would love to go to the Midlands. Yes, his home would be perfect for a person in a wheelchair. It is helpful that home exchange agencies indicate which places are accessible. E.L.S.A. takes this idea one important step further. Translated by John Mensinger.

To read Didier’s post in its French original

 

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