Angela Wilson: Making Travel More Accessible – Ep. 145

About This Episode:

Angela Wilson is the creator of Exploryst: a start-up that seeks to create a more accessible world.

Their motto is “explore EVERYWHERE, whatever your disability”, and they seek to add valuable accessibility information to travel, experiences, and business in Colorado and around the country.

Angela’s son has intellectual and progressive physical disabilities, and this led her to understanding that many experiences simple aren’t catered to—or available for—people like her son.

Today we explore how she built a business around a problem that she uniquely understood, getting the attention of local news, Forbes 1000, and thousands of people in need of what she provides.

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1:50 – “Just to go somewhere that you’ve never been, whether it be local, national or international. There are details that families like mine require that are not easily found. They are – the business themselves may not even know what questions to ask themselves to provide these type of details, whether it be physical regarding mobility, auditory, visual, sensory, and just to go through life. It’s like, okay, to navigate in my situation, my son uses a wheelchair and he has intellectual disabilities. So it’s like, ‘Okay, where are we going to need to park? How far away is it? Which wheelchair makes the most sense? What kind of offering are we going to? Is it based on his age versus his intellectual ability?’”

3:37 – “As we get older, the population ages. Unfortunately, here’s another hard truth: our bodies, our senses are going to deteriorate. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that’s what’s going to happen. This is a community that you can join at any time without an RSVP. Step off the curb a wrong way, even short-term disabilities: breaking a leg, twisting your ankle. And that’s just mobility. There’s lot of other nuanced concerns that people require that the standard population really just doesn’t think of unless they are confronted by it.”

5:52 – “That’s where my advocacy and the business that I’m building sprung from. I do not want to limit or have the world be limited by just information which wouldn’t let us participate fully and heck you learn so much about yourself through going places and learning things. But if there are barriers, whether it be physical, attitudinal or otherwise, I’m not going to let that – I’m that kind of mom that I’m like, ‘You’re saying, my kid can’t do this. You’re funny, you don’t know me. We’re going to find a way.’”

21:54 – (Ross) “There are so many things that able-bodied people do every day that they’re just not aware of the fact that they’re doing – I’m late for a subway. I run down a set of stairs, I jump a turnstile, I hop on a train. There’s just so many elements of daily life that you don’t think about until or unless you suddenly have to deal with it yourself…And we know that life is hard enough, as I’ve said before. Hard enough for anybody in the best of circumstances. Hard enough for you, hard enough for me. It’s hard for everybody to live, to make a living, to survive, to thrive. Now throw on just a mountain of other challenges on top of that. And it’s easy to see how tough things can get.”

26:00 – (Angela:) “No matter what the intent is of somebody’s language or actions – a lot of times that doesn’t matter. It’s how the person that is receiving it is feeling about it. Because, yeah, somebody may not intend to run over my foot with their car, but if they do –”
(Ross:): “– It hurts!”
(Angela:) “Yeah, exactly! And they need to either apologize or find a way to reach some sort of consensus.”

33:30 – “Every place should be mapped. Every place, no matter if it’s dining, accommodations, activities, transportation, and certain questions – there’s a form – ‘Hey, what’s the mobility? How many stairs? How high is the bed? Do you have braille menus?’ And going through this form it standardizes these disability details so that when people come on Exploryst, they can say, ‘Hey, I need to be able to go to a place that has less than a flight of stairs, because just because you have a mobility concern does not mean you are in a wheelchair full-time without lower limb mobility, that there is an onsite restroom that can accommodate my mobility device depending on size, for example. And there’s parking either on-street in a designated spot kind of thing. And you can narrow down the, pretty much all, possibilities based on those granular filters.”

40:30 – (Angela:) “The disability population around the world, short-term and long-term for those that have moderate to high incomes, meaning they’re able to travel, not just every person, is about 1.9 billion people. That’s short-term and long-term disability. If people with disabilities go somewhere, they usually don’t go alone. So multiply that by 2 to 3 people and then look at the amount of – not capital –our spending power around the world. It’s about $13 trillion of disposable income per year.

(Ross:) Wow, that’s huge!”
(Angela:) Not just the individuals, because there’s adults with disabilities, seniors who have finished their, I don’t want to say productive but, their working lives and their disabilities or mobility, audio/visual are deteriorating. They still have the means and don’t travel alone.”

43:39 – “We should all be learning no matter what it is. Just what’s the point of living if you’re not learning and bettering yourself and seeing what else is out there and having new experiences. And maybe that is just talking to a neighbor who you’ve noticed has a disability and just that empathy. And hey, that could be me sometime as well. It’s also putting that reflection and saying, ‘Okay, how would I want to be treated in that same situation?’”

52:51 – “I like to seek out people who are doing cool stuff and who have their hearts and minds in the right place…We are exploring the idea of whether or not you can build a business, whether you can make money in doing good, because that’s the system that we’re in and we can’t change – we’re in a capitalist society. We’re in this country. That is just the reality that we’re in. So working within the confines of the system, how can we make it better? That’s the question.”

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