Published on : Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Ricardo Shimosakai has traveled to 25 countries and 200 holiday destinations. But at times he finds it difficult to travel in his home country, Brazil. Ricardo has been wheelchair bound since 2001, and is now a tourist agent specialized in finding holiday packages for those with mobility issues. Ricardo believes that all tourists, regardless of their disabilities, have the right to visit anywhere, and limited to those only with good standards of accessibility.
But things are easier said than done. To quote Ricardo, “One time flying back from Argentina, I had to sit inside the plane for more than one hour in Sao Paulo. The company did not have anyone to help me get off the plane.” He said, sadly,it happens repeatedly to all wheelchair users who fly in Brazil. He said that unlike the U.S. or European countries, Brazilian airports do not have dedicated staff to assist people in wheelchairs. Some staffs are very poorly trained. “In Brazil, our accessibility conditions are too precarious. People with disabilities are not seen as consumers,” says Ricardo.
The whole infrastructure is poor, even in big cities like Rio and Sao Paolo. Also, most hotels in Brazil are unable to house people in wheelchairs. Statistics show that people with disabilities are at an economic disadvantage in Brazil. They have higher unemployment rates and a lower level of education. Ricardo says there is much work to be done by everyone. He is still trying to persuade Brazilian authorities of the significance of changing regulation.