Q: Are there good sources of information on wheelchair accessibility to tourist sites in the United States -- especially national parks -- for someone who does not want to travel as part of a group?
A: There are a number of services that supply materials to wheelchair users and direct them to other sources of information, depending on requests.
Any of them will direct you to other similar organizations, and to newsletters and other publications specializing in travel for people who use wheelchairs. They can also suggest travel agencies that will set up individual arrangements.
One organization is the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, 347 Fifth Ave., Suite 610, New York, N.Y. 10016; (212) 447-7284. The organization has material on many popular domestic tourist destinations and will provide contacts for callers to get information about specially adapted rental cars and accessibility on airlines, trains or buses.
Another is the Travel Information Service of the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital, 1200 W. Tabor Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19491; (215) 456-9600.
The service has materials about accessibility for travelers with special requirements at major tourist sites and supplies a sheet with telephone numbers to get information on specially adapted rental cars, and on services offered by airlines, Amtrak and Greyhound and major hotel chains.
There are also a number of books that contain general information. One is "Access to the World: A Travel Guide for the Handicapped," by Louise Weiss (Henry Holt), $12.95.
Another is "World of Options for 1990s," by Cindy Lewis and Susan Sygall, published by Mobility International, USA, which can be ordered for $16 ($14 for members of the organization) from Mobility International, USA, P.O. Box 3551, Eugene Ore. 97403; (503) 343-1284.
A good book on touring national parks is "Access America," available for $49.95 from Northern Cartographic, P.O. Box 133, Burlington, Vt. 05402; (802) 860-2886.
The 464-page book covers 36 national parks, providing detailed information on accessibility. Appendixes give addresses and phone numbers of such services as independent living centers if support is needed, dialysis centers and veterinarian clinics (for guide dogs).
Grove Weidenfeld has put out the Access America parks material in four books: the East, the Rockies, each $9.95, the Southwest and the West (California, Oregon and Washington), each $10.95. These do not include the appendixes. They can be ordered from Grove Weidenfeld, Sales Department, 841 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10003; (800) 937-5557. Add $1.50 for shipping one book and 50 cents for each additional one.
Note that any listing, no matter how recent, can be outdated, and that the definition of "accessible" varies greatly. Anyone considering visiting places described should contact them directly and ask for appropriate specifics, such as door dimensions, height of toilets and so on.