Student on the Disability in Japan Program Begin Their Journey

Authored By:

Dr. Michael S.

A group of students from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, and California State University Northridge just north of Los Angeles, California, led by Dr. Michael Schwartz, faculty leader from Syracuse, arrived in Haneda Airport the other night, and  the group was impressed with a couple of accessibility features. Three of the twelve students are wheelchair riders, and one has no vision. The first accessibility feature was the raised surfaces in the floor that helped alert a person with little or no vision to navigate between when the person exits Customs to when they board their bus. The second feature was the bus itself, which was accessible for a wheelchair rider. It had a motorized lift that easily and quickly boarded the rider onto the bus without any difficulty or time lag. All it took was the turn of a key to deploy the lift, allow the rider to wheel onto the lift, and lift the rider to the entrance into the bus. I estimate it took no more than three minutes from start to finish. The interior of the bus afforded plenty of space for at least three or four wheelchair riders.

The group also commented on the remarkable professionalism of the CIEE staff that met the students at the airport as well as the airport workers who assisted the group in transitioning from the airport to the hotel. The smoothness of the transfer and the cheerful kindness of the CIEE staff, the airport workers and the bus crew that loaded the group's luggage and operated the lift was extremely striking and very much appreciated by all.