As the U.S. and Cuba break new ground in post-Cold-War relations, the catamaran, Impossible Dream is charting new territory in promoting universal design to improve accessibility for wheel-chair users.
The 58-foot sailing vessel embarks on a nine-day voyage this weekend to compete in the Conch Republic Cup from Key West to Cuba, a popular sailboat race suspended in 2003, when relations between the neighboring nations were less cordial.
A six-person crew, three of whom are disabled sailors, will man the fully accessible sailboat. They will compete against a field of fully able-bodied crews on 50 or more vessels.
Deborah Mellen, founder of the Impossible Dream Project, hopes that this week’s voyage will highlight the need for universal design that can better enable the disabled, yet function well for the able-bodied. She believes that accessibility gains will be good for the Cuban people and for tourism worldwide.
“I’m proud that the Impossible Dream is helping to raise awareness of the needs of people with disabilities around the world,” Mellen said. “We are on an incredible journey on this unique vessel to discover new freedoms for the disabled and are pleased to be making this historic voyage in such an influential competition as the Conch Republic Cup.”
The mission of Impossible Dream, Inc. is to engage people around the world and to inspire people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth, along with their families, to improve skills, confidence, independence, employment potential and quality of life.