ARIZONA NEWS

Mesa becomes 1st city verified by booking app for travelers with disabilities

Oct 18, 2023, 4:25 AM

PHOENIX — Mesa was recently named the first city to achieve recognition from Wheel the World as an accessible and inclusive destination for travelers with disabilities.

The Destination Verified Seal was given after the city partnered with the booking company to give travelers advanced and detailed information about accessible experiences in the area.

“This milestone not only demonstrates Mesa’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity but also marks a significant step forward in our collective mission to make travel accessible to all,” Camilo Navarro, Wheel the World co-founder and COO, said in a press release.

“Through our Destinations Verified Seal, we’re not just verifying destinations’ local partners; we’re verifying experiences that prioritize accessibility by assessing, promoting them and providing access to unlimited e-trainings, thereby empowering travelers and local communities alike.”

What makes Mesa a disability-friendly city?

To become a Destination Verified Seal city requires Wheel the World experts to visit and assess locations. Statistics are evaluated across 200 data points of accessibility-related information, and experts offer recommendations to travel service providers on enhancing infrastructure.

In Mesa, there are 10 hotels, 13 activities and 11 restaurants listed on the Wheel the World website that are accessibility-certified.

All hotels listed on the marketplace offer accommodations such as wheelchair-accessible rooms, roll-in showers with grab bars, lowered light switches and thermostats, and pools with lifts.

A range of activities, including a trip to the Mesa Arts Center, Superstition Mountain and Sloan Park, offer accessible seating, parking spots and restrooms.

For visitors wanting to explore the dining scene, there are restaurants with step-free entrances and accessible parking spots and bathrooms.

In time, more businesses will be added to the Wheel the World marketplace to expand options for visitors, Alison Brooks, vice president at Visit Mesa, said in the release.

What else has Mesa done to support those with disabilities?

City officials have been working over the last few years to make Mesa one of the most accessible places in the world.

In 2021, Mesa became the first city in the country to adopt the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program, which was designed to discreetly identify travelers with disabilities. The sunflower acts as a visual cue to trained visitor industry staff to recognize if the traveler needs additional support during their visit.

Mesa was also the first location to be named an Autism Certified City by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards in 2019. About 60 businesses and organizations and 4,000 community members completed autism certification trainings to bring the initiative to life.

“For Mesa to achieve the Destination Verified Seal shows that we are dedicated to promoting inclusive travel and showcasing practices that embrace accessibility,” Brooks said.

“Partnering with Wheel the World has provided us with education, resources and guidance that will ultimately help us with our mission toward becoming one of the most accessible destinations in the country.”

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Mesa becomes 1st city verified by booking app for travelers with disabilities