Presenting: Scott Rains – World Traveller, Disabled Travel Advocate & Expert on Universal Design


Scott contacted me about a week ago after having come across this website. We realized that we shared a lot of common philosophies and emails started flying back and forth furiously, capped off by a very long telephone conversation.

Scott is an interesting individual, he has studied linguistics and finished his academic studies with a doctorate in theology. He has worked as a social activist, ranch hand, in social activism, in higher education, as an author, in technology education and in travel. He has travelled to many countries, despite the fact that he has to use a wheelchair. Along the way he has become an expert on disabled travel and “universal design”, a design philosophy that makes buildings and facilities available to all people: young, old, tall, short, strong, weak – not just the temporarily able-bodied.

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I grew up in Pacific Northwest. I believe I went camping once a month for all the years I was in Boy Scouts and on longer summer treks, canoe trips, or camps until I started working summers as a ranch hand on the North Platte River in Wyoming.

2. A major life event occurred when you were 17 years old. Please tell us about that.

One Sunday before my 18th birthday I achieved what was then my life’s dream. I was certified as a ski instructor. That Thursday afternoon I awoke from a biopsy on a spinal guides-info paralyzed.

Three months later, my best friends convinced me that I should get out of the hospital and go to a concert with them. Later still that the same group of us camped outdoors for a week to attend the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare festival. One day, driving back to camp, a guy sped up along side our pickup on the country two-lane to ask if that was our wheelchair in the road about a mile back.

It was, of course, and that was about the time that I started thinking, “I’m going to need to figure out a new way to pack for traveling. I guess every trip is going to be adventure travel now.

3. You are a self-described adventurer and have traveled to many places since you became disabled. Please tell us about the destinations you have visited and some of your experiences.

In college I studied in Brazil for a semester but I actually made a conscious decision not to travel as much as I could have when I returned in order to pursue the path of a social activist during the 1970’s and 1980’s. I kept on the move a bit with cross-country drives, a rail trip across Canada and academic travel to England and Wales. Mexico was on the itinerary as my wife and I took a group of students down for a service project. We actually won a free week in Kauai in the days before outfitters would let people with disabilities on Zodiac tours of the Na Pali Coast.


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