SCI Superstar: Scott Rains

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Dr. Scott Rains may not hold a doctorate in magic, but he might as well, considering how he was able to transform his career post-injury. His doctorate is in ministry, but after some wise pondering post-injury he realized an opportunity presented itself to meld two worlds he loved – travel and the world disability community.

A true traveler in his soul, Scott has had the travel bug since his teens despite a spinal cord injury that could have easily waylaid him. And the career he’s been able to forge for himself – an international accessibility consultant – has helped millions of people worldwide. Read on for Scott Rains’ impressive story of perseverance and creativity in the face of spinal cord injury that occurred in his teens.

Why he’s fearless

Growing up, the world of travel never really entered Scott’s mind, and at the age of 13 he was diagnosed with spinal cord cancer. While he was recovering and still able-bodied, he went to Guatemala his sophomore year of high school; his first travel experience. It was here where he fell in love with traveling, and he returned to Belize the next year as a junior.

Everything changed however when at the age of 17, while undergoing a biopsy on his spinal cord, he woke up an incomplete quad; an injury he’s had since that fateful day in 1972. Scott however has refused to let that stop him from traveling. Knowing both Spanish and Portuguese, he tried to study abroad in Brazil 5 years after his injury, but came home 3 months later, realizing he was not quite ready yet.

Eventually though Scott became incredibly good at traveling from his wheelchair. He is a manual chair user, which definitely helps when traveling internationally, but he needed to get his college degree first to make the traveling dream come true. He enrolled in the theological classes at Graduate Theological Foundation in West Bend, Indiana. A Roman Catholic, Scott had always been enthralled by religion.  It was also through his passion that he met his wife, Patricia. They’ve been together for nearly 31 years.

She too is a lover of traveling. Together, their favorite spots have become Argentina, Korea, India and Thailand. And the funny thing is – Scott didn’t think about making travel a career move until his wife brought it up as a possible solution to the inevitable, which was weighing on his mind – aging with a disability. Never a fun thing to think about  and his wife suggested a career of accessibility consultancy since it was something he was already doing for free while traveling.

Talk about a smart move. His first big gig was speaking at the International Conference on Universal Design in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – “Designing for the 21st Century” – where he did a pre-conference seminar on universal design and tourism. Since then he’s spoke at the Rhode Island School of Design and as conference keynoter in Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mozambique, South Africa, Thailand, and Taiwan; oftentimes on behalf of the government or local businesses. He also worked with Rick Hansen institute along the way.

What’s next

Scott of course has a blog – RollingRains.com – where you can follow his travels, the latest consultancy work he’s doing to improve accessibility in the world and his thoughts on universal accessibility; a passion of his without question. He’s also often times back in Brazil, where he has friends and many individuals he works with.  He’s incredibly dedicated to helping the disability community there.

With his accessibility expertise and connections to Brazil, he will definitely be there a lot in the next couple of years too. The World Cup will be there this June, and the next Summer Olympics will be in Brazil in 2016.  It must be fun to travel frequently to a place you love, and get to know the people as if you live there. Quite a lucky man indeed.

The greater disability community around the world has Scott to thank for many things. His dedication to improving accessibility worldwide melts the soul, and the way he went about reinventing his career is pure genius. Bravo Scott for showing us how it’s done.

Check out his blog: Rolling Rains Report

Have you used your disability as a platform for your next career move, and how did it go?

Check out the videos!

Scott Rains – Inclusive Tourism – “Neurology of the third Millennium” – part.1

WHILL Type-A Testimonial – Dr. Scott Rains

Scott Rains gives his support for Vice President of Ecuador and paraplegic Lenín Moreno for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012

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