27 May A Conversation with Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad
Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad of Accessible Travel NYC joined us for a Q&A to discuss tourism, our topic for May’s e-news. Enjoy!
What is your top advice for tourists with disabilities visiting NYC cultural destinations?
Plan ahead especially for the larger museums, download the maps and decide what’s important for you to see because it’s hard to see one of the larger museums within a few hours. Take a docent led tour, it’s so much easier to learn about the museum that way. Consider smaller museums, there is more of a human connection with the staff and there’s a sense of accomplishment when you’ve seen a whole museum.
Eating out is a big part of visiting somewhere new! Do you have accessible NYC restaurants you can recommend?
Of course we’d recommend all that’s on our website although a few may not be operating at this point. We highly recommend Contento because it’s fully inclusive and because they’ve served PwD, the service is also top notch. We had a good experience at PJ Clarks and a great one at Print in Ink48 but of course this was pre pandemic. I’ve often recommended Food Halls like the one at Brookfield Place, the Food Court in Grand Central, Urbanspace Vanderbilt, the food stands in Times Square as these are easier options with a variety of choices. The street vendors and food trucks are now also serving up many different types of cuisine and are a great choice to grab and go to a public park.
Your website details many accommodations and highlights your hospitality training work with the Slatin Group. Can you tell us about how you developed this list of hotels and your star rating system ?
So there is no star rating that I’ve internally developed, those are the hotel actual star rating. I asked Peter [Slatin] for a list of all the hotels he trained at in NYC and used that as a list suggestion. PwD are sometimes nervous about how they’d be treated so I figured if the staffs are trained at these hotels then there is some level of commitment to welcome people with disabilities.
What has been your most surprising experience in your work to highlight accessible NYC?
The amount of gratitude emails that come through my inbox, and comments on my public speaking and my training sessions of how important it is to talk about disability inclusion and to see positive disability representation. By creating a safe space for communication and conversation, people have opened up about their experiences with disabilities. And these people want to do the things Annie and I have been doing. What I’ve witnessed it’s sort of like the flood gates opening up and I find it tremendously rewarding.
What are your thoughts for how we can keep improving disability inclusion in NYC tourism?
We must all do our parts and keep the conversation going, share disability content with a larger audience not just through disability specific programming/orgs, engage with the disabled community, hold organizations accountable for hiring and welcoming folks with disabilities and of course our Accessibility Blueprint program is for NYCGO to work with cultural organizations on some of these items.