January 23, 2018

Welcome to SATH!


Welcome to SATH, the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality. Founded in 1976 and presently led by Stuart Vidockler, SATH is an educational nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the needs of all travelers with disabilities, remove physical and attitudinal barriers, to free access and to expand travel opportunities.

So why do disability travel opportunities matter to you? Maybe the better question is why doesn’t it matter to you? Or maybe you haven’t asked the question in a while and now remember traveling with a temporary disability and the added complications. I am sure your compassionate self believes in equal travel opportunities, but then your brain gets involved and comes up with arguments like cost, inconvenience and mistaken assumptions.

SATH is here to dispel outdated beliefs and put in their place a new reality that illustrates the benefits when travel is available for all. SATH educates and advocates. They work hard to coordinate industry efforts. They field media questions. They post news updates. Best of all, they are here for you. They are a clearinghouse of information and can help you skillfully navigate disability travel whether you are travel agent looking to enter a new market (hint-hint – lucrative opportunity), a hotel or transportation service, or a consumer.

Disability travel and universal design are partners in a better world that works for everyone. Awareness and a demand for inclusive design are necessary to bring about these shifts in design over the next years; the money is there (see below).

Begin by visiting the SATH website. Questions not answered in the site can be emailed to Jani Nayar who will generously assist you.


The Open Doors Organization in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) released a landmark study on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. resident travelers with disabilities. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, polled 1,037 people with disabilities. The major findings of this groundbreaking study were released on January 16, 2003 at the 7th Annual SATH World Congress in Miami.

The study suggested that people with disabilities could spend at least $27 billion per year, if certain needs were met. These include a “meet and greet” at airports and preferred seating as top issues for the airlines while lodging issues include the need for rooms close to amenities and staff members that go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities. People with disabilities spent $13.6 billion on 31.7 million trips in the past year. The modifications suggested by the survey could increase expenditures by people with disabilities by 100% per year.

In 2001, the airline industry saw $3.3 billion in spending by travelers with disabilities, resulting in 52,800 jobs created to provide services for people with disabilities. The lodging industry saw $4.2 billion in spending and 60,000 jobs. The study also suggested that people with disabilities could at least double their spending generating $6.4 billion for airlines and $8.4 billion for lodging if the needs of travelers with disabilities were addressed. Currently travelers with disabilities generate a total of 194,000 travel-related jobs, $4.22 billion in payroll and $2.52 billion in tax revenues in the U.S.

The study was conducted to measure general travel behaviors including how often people with disabilities travel, with whom they travel, how much they spend while on the road, the mode of transportation and accommodations used, and on which sources of information they rely to make decisions. The study provides information that travel industry and related businesses will find invaluable as they seek to stem large losses following the terrorist acts of 9/11/01. The upside potential for both the economy and the travel industry is highly significant. TIA participated in the study in a consulting capacity, advising in the questionnaire design and validating the study and its findings against TIA’s substantial market and economic research resources for the U.S. travel industry.

The Open Doors Organization is a not-for-profit corporation founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and to provide direct support to people with disabilities. The organization creates comprehensive programs and services that offer training and consultation and market statistics to both the public and private sectors.

Konrad Kaletsch
Universal Design Resource
Universal Design Network at Facebook and LinkedIn