Vale - Scott Rains
What if the first questions we asked was:
"What is so unique about this situation that it justifies exclusion?"
Instead of :
"How much does it cost to make it accessible?"
A Passionate, Visionary, Leader
It is hard to distill the life's work of someone into a single statement, but the quote above stands out as the core belief of the inspirational visionery leader that was Scott Rains.
We are all saddened by his loss, but his legacy will live on forever.
Scott Rains, Sherri Hall, Deborah Davis and myself at the SATH Conference in Orlando, 2009
I first met Scott in San Francisco in 2008. It was both my introduction to the man and also to a vivid illustration of what happens to accessible tourism when things go wrong. We had agreed to meet at Ghirardelli Square for lunch, which is up the hill from the historic maritime waterfront. As it happened the lift was out of order, but not being deterred we struggled up the hill to the spectacular views over San Francisco Bay. I still remember his words as we went up the hill, going up is hard but if you let go on the way back down you will be fishing me out of San Francisco bay!
Scott was a visionary, determined to change the paradigm around Accessible Tourism. He saw it as not just a social right but also as an economic imperative. Accessible tourism was big business.
“American adults with disabilities or reduced mobility currently spend an average of $13. 6 billion a year on travel. Creating accessible cruise ships, accessible ship terminals, accessible ground transportation, and accessible tourist destinations is not charity. It is just good business.”
Central to Scott's beliefs was the principle that access did not equal inclusion. He argued that while the ADA had been central to creating better access for people with a disability, it had in some ways become a millstone around society's neck.
The 7 principles of Universal Design were originally designed to create innovation in the built environment that would evolve over time to make spaces truly usable by all. Instead those principles were codified at a point in time and access became compliance driven.
"Stairs are simply the result of a lack of design imagination"
Scott's influence extended worldwide. Through his efforts he not only sort out the most passionate people but mentored them and encouraged new thinking. He never stopped working at building new networks and bringing people together to change the way the world thought about Accessible Tourism and Inclusion generally.
He was a world traveler and his influence can be seen everywhere including Africa, Brazil, the Philippines and Nepal.
He was a clear thinker and passionate man who was generous with both his time and knowledge. Above all else Scott was a true gentleman. He was a scholar of theology which gave him a unique understanding of the world and a deep love of all cultures.
Destinations for All in Montreal
It is seldom in one's life that you are fortunate to meet a real change maker.
Scott Rains was one of those rare people who made a difference.
It is often said that the mark of a true leader is someone who can create a vision that is embraced by enough people that the leader looses control of it. Scott has created a vision of an Inclusive World that has been embraced the world over by passionate advocates. His legacy will live on as Accessible Tourism becomes mainstream.
I feel privileged to have known Scott. He was a true mentor, educator and friend.
Our thoughts and condolences are with Patricia
May you rest in peace.