Shu Cole
(812) 855-9037
PH 133

  • Texas A&M University, Ph.D., 1998
  • SPH R388 Marketing Principles for Leisure Services
  • SPH T552 Comtemporary Issues in Tourism Studies
  • PI, Innovation in lodging industry information on Accessibility: Part 2. A Quality of Life project funded by Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. 2018-2019.
  • PI, Airport Cooperative Research Program Synthesis S18-07-02: Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility. Funded by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018-2019.
  • Co-I, Airport Cooperative Research Program Research Project 01-31: Innovative solutions to facilitate accessibility for airport travelers with disabilities. Funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016-2018.
  • PI, Innovation in lodging industry information on Accessibility. A Quality of Life project funded by Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. 2016-2017.
  • PI, A Self-Determination perspective on barriers to and facilitators of travel after spinal cord injury. Psychological Research Grant, funded by Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, 2015-2017.
  • Co-Chair, National Recreation and Parks Association Research Sessions. 2016-2018.
  • Member of the Research Committee of Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, Inc. 2016-present.
Research Interests

The ability to travel plays an important role in many Americans' daily lives, and the reduced ability to travel due to aging, chronic health conditions and disabilities will negatively impact their everyday activities, including work, independent living, community involvement, recreation, and subsequently, individuals' well-being across their lifespan. My current research in the travel behavior of people with disabilities and older adults is framed in the biopsychosocial model of functioning, disability and health, as defined by the World Health Organization. This conceptualization not only emphasizes the health conditions of individuals with disabilities from a biomedical perspective, but also embraces the social and environmental life domains of the individuals. My research focuses on the psychological, social and environmental factors that predict participation of people with disabilities and older adults in travel-related activities. Additionally, my research examines the consequences of participation in travel, namely, health-related quality of life. Findings from my research can be implemented in the travel and hospitality industries to help travel businesses (lodging, airport, destinations, etc.) expand their capacities to accommodate the ever-growing aging population. Currently, I am PI of a Craig H. Neilsen Foundation's Creating Opportunity and Independence project that aims to remove information-related barriers for hotel guests who use mobility assistive devices. I am also PI of a project funded by the National Academy of Sciences that studies the communication strategies of airports for enhancing the travel experiences of people with disabilities, aging travelers and travelers with limited English proficiency.

Selected Publications

Austin, D.R. & Cole, S.T. (2013). Inclusive Tourism. In D. R. Austin, & Y. Lee (Eds.), Inclusive and Special Recreation: Opportunities for Persons from Diverse Populations to Flourish, (p.301-314). Urbana, IL: Sagamore Publishing.

Voight, A., & Cole, S.T. (2010) Inclusive Travel, Tourism, and Amusements. In Inclusive Recreation: Programs and Services for Diverse Populations, (p.331-345). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


Cole, S., Svetina, D., & Whiteneck, G. (2019). Developing a barriers scale in the context of travel: TRIP – Travel Restrictions Influencing Participation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 100(1), 52-59.

Cole, S., Zhang, Ye, Wang, W., & Hu, C.M. (2018) The influence of accessibility and motivation on leisure travel participation of people with disabilities. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing,

Yu, C.P., Cole, S., & Chancellor, H.C. (2018). Resident support for tourism development in rural Midwestern (USA) communities: Perceived tourism impacts and community quality of life perspective. Sustainability, 10(3), 802,

Zhang, Y., Cole, S., Ricci, P., & Gao, J. (2017). Context-Based Leisure Travel Facilitation among People with Mobility Challenges: A Self-Determination Theory Approach. Journal of Travel Research, 0047287517741004.

Zhang, Y., Cole, S., Hirt, E., & Bilgihan A. (2017). Self-determined travel facilitation with mental construal priming. Tourism Management, 61, 472-483.

Wang, W., Cole, S. T., Chen, J. S. (2017). Tourist Innovation in Air Travel. Journal of Travel Research.

Zhang, Y., & Cole, S. (2016). Lodging Service Structure of Satisfaction among Customers with Mobility Challenges: Introducing Web Textual Data into Satisfaction Structure Analyses with Mixed Methods. Tourism Management, 53, 13-27.

Park, Y.W., Cole, S., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Accessibility of travel and tourism services as perceived by travelers with mobility impairments. Tourism Review International, 19 (1-2), 31-42.