I am back from my travels along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan and Western China. Uzbekistan is no longer under Soviet rule and is re-emerging as a vibrant country with a rich culture. Tourism is a key factor and new infrastructure for roads and very fast rail was a surprise. New airports, train stations, and hotels abound. I could see some attempts at accessibility, but nothing was joined up. It was a great pity to see a brand new airport with six steps to the entrance. This was a recurring theme.
Over the border in Western China the station for the very fast train has 56 steps up to the platform and many more before that. The escalator needed a key to start it, but no person with a key could be found. Regardless, managing bags on an escalator is not optimum. The presence of a wheelchair platform lift gave the idea that compliance to some sort of standard was considered, but not the regular travelling public with their bags. So no passenger lift. Much of the rail infrastructure is elevated hence the steps both up to the station entrance and then more up to the platform.
On arrival at the heritage site for the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, men with wheelchairs approached us and vied for customers. For a small fee you could be pushed around the very large area of three warrior pits and a museum. However, only trolley ramps were available and most people had to get out and walk up the steps. I did find one access sign though. One person in our group took advantage of this service. It was interesting to see how popular the Silk Road journey is for residents of both Uzbekistan and China – both are keen to re-discover their heritage.
Travelling the Silk Road is not for the faint-hearted. Steps abound due to the nature of the heritage buildings that include many steps as a matter of course. Major hotels are not much better, but it is expected that staff will help. And the many security checks mean lots of lifting and shifting of luggage too.
Many thanks to fellow director, Queenie Tran for looking after the newsletter and website in my absence.
Remember you can support the hosting of the website and newsletter by becoming a member for just $25 a year. Jane Bringolf, Editor
While I am away taking a break, fellow director of Centre for Universal Design Australia, Queenie Tran, will be taking over the newsletter. With a background in architecture and access consulting, she has extensive experience in the built environment from residential to commercial, including home modifications and renovations. Queenie’s interest in universal design and inclusion extends beyond the built environment as you will see in the next three or four weeks.
As always, if you have any news or publication related to universal design, diversity and/or inclusion that you would like to share, let us know by email email@example.com
Jane Bringolf, Editor (pictured above)
Queenie Tran pictured above.
Easter holidays gives time to reflect. So, this newsletter brings you some previous posts. I’ve chosen some of the most popular guides posted during the last year or so. They will serve as a reminder to long-standing subscribers, and will introduce them to new subscribers. There are almost 600 items to search on this website – it has become a major repository of information on universal design, inclusion and accessibility. Remember you can help support this work by becoming a member for just $25.00. Centre for Universal Design Australia is a not for profit organisation supported by volunteers, membership fees and donations. Thank you to newsletter subscribers who have become members in this last month.
Also, if you have a news item or find a good resource, send to me on email. Hope you enjoy these posts. New posts next week.
Jane Bringolf, Editor
Below are links to four previous posts on hotels and tourism. More can be found on the Travel and Tourism menu tab on the left hand side of the website. Tourism is leading the way with the economic arguments for universal design and inclusion. Other industries could follow their lead for increased profits and enhanced branding.
Listen up hotel managers! You’re missing out
Inclusive Hotels: A guide
Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide
UK Tourism guide for business
Many event managers and venues have yet to get their head around their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act. While many public buildings may have access through the front door and accessible toilet, this does not make for an inclusive event. Did anyone think about a handrail on the steps to the podium, a lower lectern for a seated speaker, or what to do with the guide dog?
Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbook on accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. However, it appears only to be available to members of the Association and is not visible on their web home page. Nevertheless, a Google search will also find the Accessible Events Guide. The Guide also has a checklist at the end.
Free to access guides include the Victorian Government guide and checklist. This one uses easy access English as well, so the guide itself is accessible, and covers the role of MC and speakers. Also the West Australian Government checklist is available.
Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.
Editor’s Note: While trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use.
Media Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications. Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides, see link below as well.
Cognitive disability digital accessibility guide