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Community Advocacy Organization

Choose LansingTM Announces Inaugural Tourism Accessibility Summit

Accessibility education for the hospitality industry takes place on Oct. 26 at AC Hotel by Marriott

LANSING, MICH. Oct. 19, 2023Choose LansingTM will host its first Tourism Accessibility Summit on October 26 from 2-4 p.m. at the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Lansing. Attendees will hear from national and local experts on how to implement best practices to be welcoming to all guests. Choose LansingTM President & CEO Julie Pingston will also give a preview of the new accessibility inventory and accessibility page on the Choose Lansing website. “One in four people identify as having a disability and want to travel,” says Julie Pingston. “Our goal is for Greater Lansing to be welcoming to all visitors, which is why we’re excited to help our local hospitality businesses implement best practices to become more accessible.” The event’s keynote speaker is Kristy Durso, national accessibility advocate and owner of Incredible Memories Travel. Other speakers include Cathy Blatnik, treasurer for the Mid-Michigan Autism Association, and Meegan Winters, founder of AbleVu. Members of the media are invited to attend. Contact Julie Pingston ( for media inquiries and see below for more information about the event’s speakers. Keynote Speaker: Kristy Durso, National Accessibility Advocate and Owner of Incredible Memories Travel As a full-time wheelchair user and mom to three kids with disabilities and food allergies, Kristy understands the complexities of accessible travel on a personal level. Kristy is passionate about helping others with disabilities travel. Kristy’s work aims to improve accessibility options for travelers with disabilities and to also help travel advisors better communicate with potential clients and destinations so that the travelers’ needs are met, and expectations of the level of accessibility are accurate. As a member of the advisory board for Travelability, Kristy also works directly with DMOs, tourist boards, resorts, and others to increase awareness of disability travel, and to help them improve their accessibility. Kristy’s ultimate goal is to inspire change in the travel industry to make a more inclusive atmosphere so that travel is accessible to all. Julie Pingston, Choose Lansing CEO/President and Certified Autism Travel Professional Julie is a passionate leader spearheading the charge to establish Lansing as the most sensory-friendly and welcoming destination for all who visit. Julie will present current data on the importance of accessibility and local perspectives on accessibility efforts. She’ll also give a preview of the accessibility inventory study conducted by The MSU School of Hospitality Business. That information will be housed on the accessibility page on the Choose Lansing website. She’ll also share Choose Lansing’s plans to be welcoming to all. Cathy Blatnik, Mid-Michigan Autism Association

Cathy is the Treasurer of the Mid-Michigan Autism Association, and the Co-Coordinator of the Special Needs Ministry in the Diocese of Lansing. She is on the Sensory Friendly Performances Advisory Team for the Wharton Center, a member of the Autism Advisory Group for the Henry Ford Museum, a member of Choose Lansing’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Committee, co-founder of the Greater Lansing Developmental Disability Advocacy Collaborative, and a member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee for the Ingham Intermediate School District. Cathy will utilize her personal experiences to share information and suggestions on how to help your organization be more accommodating and accessible for those on the autism spectrum.

Meegan Winters, AbleVu Meegan is an accessibility and autism educator in addition to being the owner of AbleVu, utilizing virtual tours to help people of ALL abilities access the community and travel space. Meegan will share the state-of-the-art technology and tools available that you can implement to help guests prepare before their visit. About Choose LansingTM The vision of Choose LansingTM is to inspire everyone to celebrate and love Greater Lansing as much as we do! This goes hand in hand with our mission, to positively impact our community’s quality of life by developing the region as a visitor destination. Learn more at

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