Abstract Information


Impact of Barriers and Facilitators on Travel Needs Satisfaction of People with SCI

1Cole S, 1Holback N, 1Kang S, 2Whiteneck G
1Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA; 2Craig Hospital, Englewood, CO, USA

Objective: Since the passing of ADA, significant improvement in accessibility has been achieved and general public awareness about disability and accessibility has increased. No empirical evidence exists, however, as to whether environmental factors have facilitated and/or enhanced the travel experience of travelers with disabilities. To bridge the gap in the literature, the study aims to demonstrate whether barriers thwart or facilitators enhance the travel needs satisfaction of people living with SCI.

The study is grounded in the Self-Determination Theory, proposing that it is through interaction with nurturing and supportive factors in our social environment that individual’s psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are fostered and enhanced, which in turn can facilitate or hinder one’s travel experience. If environmental factors facilitate the satisfaction of basic psychological needs, the individual is more likely to demonstrate autonomous or intrinsic motivation for travel, and if environmental barriers thwart the satisfaction of these basic needs, people will likely demonstrate external-regulated motivation or lack of motivation for travel.

Methods: 19 travel barriers and 14 travel facilitators were identified first. A questionnaire was then administered to 250 individuals enrolled in the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Injury System. Stepwise regression analyses were conducted to examine the impact of travel barriers and facilitators on the satisfaction of needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness.

Results: Five barriers significantly predict participants’ needs for competency: B1—bringing equipment/supplies to travel, B2–being treated poorly (e.g. as less of a person) by others, B3-people who can walk occupying handicap parking spaces, B4–figuring out where to do the bladder/bowel program, and B5–staff not knowing how to handle the wheelchair. Four barriers are significant predictors of the needs for autonomy: B1, B3, B6–travel industry staff not listening to traveler needs when trying to help, and B7–lack of assistive devices at destinations. Only B2 had a significantly negative influence on participants’ needs for relatedness.

Five travel facilitators are significant predictors of competency: F1–the ability to solve problems during travel, F2–knowing how to ask the right questions about accessibility needs, F3–transportation that accommodate wheelchairs, F4–having people to travel with, and F5–friendly people who are respectful and willing to help. F1 and F4 are also significant predictors of autonomy, while F5 and F6 (i.e. travel industry staff who make an effort to help) significantly predict participants’ need for relatedness.

Conclusions: Findings confirmed that the barriers thwart and facilitators enhance the basic psychological needs satisfaction of people with SCI in the travel context. The ignorance and negative attitudes of others, and inadequate service from staff can severely impede people’s needs for competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Proper and respectful help from staff and others is important, and the know-how of travelers with SCI is crucial for a successful travel experience.

Support: Craig H. Neilsen Foundation (#321788).


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