Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Travel Guide for Families with children with special health care needs

Family Voices Indiana knows that many families will be travelling this holiday season, so our health information specialist, Cyndi Johnson, prepared this guide to travelling with a child with special health care needs. We hope you find it helpful.

Travel Guide for Families with CYSHCN


·         Click below for information on Accessibility at the Indianapolis Airport:
·         Some airports offer a “trial run” prior to the date of the travel in which families who have a loved one with a disability can practice entering the airport, getting boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane.  Contact your local airport to see if they offer this type of service.
·         Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers “TSA Cares,” a toll-free helpline designed to provide information about security procedures for travelers with disabilities.  It is recommended that travelers call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 about 72 hours ahead of departure so that when needed, TSA Cares can coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager at the airport.   The phone line is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm EST, excluding federal holidays.  More information on security procedures is available at TSA's website, . Travelers can also contact the TSA Contact Center at 1-866-289-9673 or

·         For more information or concerns about air travel accessibility, visit Aviation Consumer Protection at or call their toll-free disability hotline at 800-778-4838.

·         Mobility International USA offers an air travel tip sheet that can be found at

·         For more tips and information on air travel with a disability, visit Flying with a Disability at


·         Recent revisions (March 2012) to ADA regulations require more accessible reservation procedures for “Places of Lodging.”  The intent of these changes is
o   to ensure that individuals with disabilities can make reservations during the same hours and in the same manner as individuals without disabilities
o   to identify and describe accessible features and inaccessible features in the hotel and guest rooms in enough detail to allow an individual with disabilities to assess whether a hotel meets his or her needs
o   to ensure that accessible guest rooms are held for use by individuals with disabilities until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented
o   to reserve, upon request, accessible guest rooms or specific types of guest rooms and ensure that the reserved rooms are blocked and removed from all reservations systems
o   to guarantee that a specific accessible guest room, once reserved, is held for the reserving customer.

·         Traveling Wheels allows you to book accessible lodging and other accommodations at


·         For transportation information by state as well as national services, visit

·         Traveling Wheels allows you to book your accessible trip including air, hotel, vehicle, and cruise accommodations at  The site also offers a searchable database with detailed accessibility information for lodging, restaurants, stores, transportation, attractions and tours, as well as information on medical services in the area, as well as stories and tips from travelers with disabilities.

·         The Independent Living Institute provides an extensive list of website links on a variety of accessible travel and leisure topics, including domestic and international destinations:

·         Easter Seals Project ACTION addresses travel and transportation issues.  They also offer a “Travel Training” series that includes “Something Got in Your Way? Developing Travel Skills to Address Unexpected Challenges.” .  Visit or call 1-800-659-6428 for more information.


·         Some amusement parks have accessibility policies specific to their attractions. Call ahead to inquire about the park’s policies, or visit guest information kiosks on site and be prepared to offer proof of disability such as a doctor’s statement to access accommodations.

·         Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL: In general, Disney does not permit wheelchairs or strollers in queue lines but instead offers a separate accessible entrance to most attractions.  Visit “Guest” services office near the entrance where one can obtain (with no documentation) a special tag to use their wheelchair or use a stroller as a wheelchair.  While the tag is not specifically a means of bypassing the regular queue line, often the accessible line is a much shorter wait, although one may need to wait for an accessible ride car if transferring from the wheelchair is not possible.  In some cases, persons who may have difficulty standing in regular queue lines due to sensory challenges, heat-sensitivity, or endurance-related conditions may also request alternative access to rides and attractions.  Further, those with vision and/or hearing impairment may request seating near the front for shows and other attractions.
  • Access Pass for The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands.  This pass is a free lifetime pass for any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is medically determined to have a permanent disability that severely limits one or more life activities.  The Access Pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, covering entrance and standard amenity fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or the pass holder and 3 additional adults for a total of four adults at sites that charge per person).  Children under the age of 16 are always admitted free.  Note that the pass generally does not cover special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.  Photo identification may be requested to verify pass ownership.  Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.  The pass may be obtained in person at a federal recreation site or through the mail using this application form.  Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship.

·         Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN: Holiday World produces an annual Accessibility Guide (available at In-Park Services) that is a comprehensive guide to accessibility and accommodations in the park for persons with disabilities and special health care needs.  Also, guests with a disability or special health care need may qualify for half-price passes through the “Special Friends” rate.  Guests with a terminal illness may qualify for complimentary passes through “Give a Kid the World” program.  Call (812) 937-4401 for more information or to inquire about accessibility and accommodations prior to your arrival.

·         Golden Hoosier Passport is an Indiana State Parks pass with a special rate of ½ off the standard rate for the Resident Annual Entrance Permit.  Indiana residents that may be eligible include those who (1) are at least 65 years of age or (2) are eligible for Social Security disability payments under 42 U.S. C. 401.  Note that proof of eligibility must be presented at time of purchase and disabled individual must be present in the vehicle at time of use.  The pass admits noncommercial vehicle, driver, and passengers. Good from January 1 until December 31 of the year issued.

·         Indiana Golden Hoosier Permit is a free Indiana State Parks pass: Indiana residents who may be eligible include those who (1) are former POWs or their surviving spouses or (2) qualify for a DAV1 or DAV2 license plate, regardless of age.  Note that submission of Form 32584 Certificate of Eligibility for Veteran License Plates is required at time of purchase. Permits are mailed automatically at the beginning of each year. Direct questions to

·         Access Pass card: Several attractions across the state of Indiana have joined forces to offer $1 general admission to qualifying families. To qualify for an Access Pass, families must participate in any one of the following state assistance programs: (1) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), (2) Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP), (3) Hoosier Healthwise Insurance (must show a Hoosier Works card (without Visa logo or Hoosier Healthwise card).  To apply, visit any of the venues listed below and show an Indiana-issued photo identification and proof of state assistance.  They will be issued an Access Pass card that is renewable annually and provides family members the reduced rate throughout the year.
o   The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: $1 general admission per family member per visit. Some special events and exhibits may not be included. Carousel rides and the annual Haunted House are not included.  Free parking.  10% discount in the museum's Food Court.  Discounted price for StarPoint Summer Camp. For accessibility or general information about The Children's Museum, call (317) 334-3322.
o   Conner Prairie: $1 general admission per family member per visit. Some special events and exhibits might not be included. Balloon rides are not included. Free parking.  For more information about Conner Prairie call (317) 776-6006 or visit
o   Indiana Historical Society: $1 general admission per family member per visit. Some special events and exhibits might not be included.  Free parking.  For more information about the Indiana Historical Society, call (317) 232-1882 or visit
o   The Eiteljorg Museum: $1 general admission per family member per visit. Some special events and exhibits might not be included. Validated parking. For more information about The Eiteljorg Museum, call (317) 636-WEST (9378) or visit
o   NCAA Hall of Champions: $1 general admission per family member per visit. Some special events and exhibits might not be included. Validated parking. For more information about The NCAA Hall of Champions, call (317) 916-HALL (4255) or

·         Indianapolis Zoo: Community Tuesdays are the first Tuesday of each month, March through October, when Zoo admission is discounted to only $8.00 per person.  Military personnel (active, retired, or veteran) receive a 20% discount on up to 4 tickets per visit year-round.  Further, all military personnel are offered free admission on Memorial Day and Veterans Day (20% discount applies to additional tickets).  Please bring military ID.

·         The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: For museum accessibility information, visit  In addition to the Access Pass mentioned above, the museum hosts some free admission days: Christmas Eve (10 a.m.–2 p.m.), Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, El Dia de Los NiƱos (April 28, 2013).  Also, families take advantage of “Target Free Family Nights,” where admission is free on the first Thursday of each month, 4-8pm.  Youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Revised October 2012

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