Inclusive tourism starts with information

Hotel bedroom with polished floors, orange and red pillows on a couch and textured wallpaperWill the hotel room be suitable? What’s the accessibility of public transport like? Will any shops and restaurants be accessible? The answers to these sorts of questions will dictate where people with disability, older people and their families will take a vacation or have a day out. Too much inconvenience and frustration will turn them away. And this includes not being able to find the relevant information on the destination websites. Probono Australia interviewed Lonely Planet’s accessible travel manager, Martin Heng, who has more to say on this in “Making Tourism More Inclusive For All”.

The Victorian Opposition party has announced their policy on Accessible Tourism in the lead up to next month’s state election. Bill Forrester writes about this on his blog and points out the level of missed business in the tourism market. 

Both articles point to the lost business of tourism operators by not considering the high number of people with disability who travel alone and in groups. 

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Mapping Access: People, Place and Justice

picture of a Google map with icons for parking and transportCreating access maps using data collected from individuals is part of a Google Maps project. But there is more to this than just knowing how to get from one place to another when you are a wheelchair user. What does it say about architecture and how we value citizens? Codes for architectural compliance do not include the human perspective of how people actually use places and spaces and relate to each other. This point is made in a philosophical article by Aimi Hamraie, “Mapping Access: Digital Humanities, Disability Justice, and Sociospatial Practice“. She covers the history of access mapping and uses a university campus as a case study, and challenges notions that access mapping is just a database of directional information. Hamraie claims she has developed a methodological tool for “excavating the politics of design embedded in the most banal features of everyday built environments”. A good read for anyone involved in mapping, GIS projects and the architecture of digital inclusion.  

Note: This article uses academic language and concepts, but is thorough in discussing all aspects if the issues.

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England and Scotland Guidebooks for the accessible way

A street scene. Cobbled roadway between five and six storey heritage buildings with Scottish flags flyingWhile many places in the U.K. offer accessible features for guests with disability, 63 percent don’t promote the fact according to Bill Forrester in his TravAbility newsletter. VisitEngland and VisitScotland have launched a website for tourism businesses to produce accessibility guides to help overcome this problem. Chris Veitch, who helped devise the guides will be talking about these at the upcoming Universal Design Conference along with Bill Forrester. People with disability and older people rarely travel alone – at least no more than the general population. So it is not just one person avoiding inaccessible places – it can be a whole family or travel group.

Tourism operators can use the new, free website, www.accessibilityguides.org, to produce and publish their accessibility guides. These guides should also be useful for Australian tourism operators as well. 

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Comprehensive Universal Design

Indian hotel swimming pool at sunset.Comprehensive Universal Design is a concept from India. It refers to the classic principles of universal design, concepts of sustainability, and culture, that is, a “country-centric approach which considers poverty, caste, class, religion, background both rural and urban”.  A Conceptual Framework for Barrier Free Hotels in Smart Cities covers most of the basics written in many other papers about universal design, links it to the hotel and tourism industry and all the economic benefits that can bring. Weaving in cultural aspects such as poverty and religion takes universal design thinking another inclusive step forward. The article proposes a conceptual framework to explain.

Abstract: Cities are key for business, Job creation, and the growth of society. The Government of India planned to develop smart cities which are sustainable, inclusive and act as a reference for other aspiring cities. Smart cities in India will work on four principles such as wellbeing of habitants, equity, foresight and efficiency. Existing laws and design principles can act as a hurdle in achieving the four principles laid down. The principles of Universal Design (UD) are user centric, work on the social goals of inclusion, equality and independence. Universal Design India Principle (UDIP) is a set of design principles that focus on a country centric approach which considers culture, caste, poverty, class, and religion. There is an overwhelming need for environmentally sustainable designs for hospitality services. Considering the current requirements, a conceptual framework ‘Comprehensive Universal Design (CUD)’ has been proposed which includes principles of UD, UDIP and environmental sustainability. Adopting comprehensive universal design principles in the hotels in smart city will help the planners to realise equity, quality of life, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

The article is by Partho Pratim Sea*P. Senthil Kumaran

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International Toilet Tourism Awards 2018

A wooden shack type dunny with the hashtag Toilet Tourism AwardThe idea of toilets being tourist destinations in their own right is taking off. This year Bill Forrester and Chris Veitch, both of whom will be speaking at the Australian UD Conference, were among the judging panel. The best accessible toilet award goes to Brisbane Airport – another topic for the UD Conference. Jill Franz will be talking about how they have made air travel for people with dementia much easier. Other award winners are from across the globe. Adelaide and Fraser Coast also scored an award. Overall winner was a toilet with a James Bond theme. A home made video of the winner – watch to the end – 

Courtesy of the My Travel Research website.

You can read more and see better pics on the karryon.com.au website.

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Airbnb for everyone

A hand is holding a smartphone with an Airbnb red logo on white background. In the background is a double bed.Now that Airbnb has taken over Accomable, they are able to offer more information about the accessibility of destinations and places to stay. Airbnb has introduced 24 filters that help travellers find listings that meet their specific needs, including roll-in-showers and step free access to rooms. The Assistive Technology Blog shows in detail how the site can be used.   

Editor’s Note: Nadia Feeney from the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse will be speaking at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference about the work they have done on updating their database terms for accessibility across the spectrum. Chris Maclean from Local Government NSW will complement this with a presentation on their free e-learning course on inclusive tourism. And of course our keynote speaker Chris Veitch will talk more globally about inclusive travel and tourism.

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Good example of a step free transport map

Bottom right hand corner of the tube map showing the legend of all the different level of accessThis isn’t something from Transport for London, it’s from a blog site, Step Free London. It shows what can be done with transport maps when users know that attention to detail is everything. The personal experience sets it apart from other maps. An access icon can mean so many things, and this is shown in the legend of the map. For example it could be either: Full step-free access; Step-free access via ramp; Step-free access towards one direction; Out-of-station interchange; and Separate entrance for each direction, plus other combinations of partial access. The blog site has good information for map designers. It also contains all the latest information about travelling by train in London. There are similar maps available in Australia, such as City of Sydney accessibility map. The Citymetric site shows two tube maps for Paris – one for the general public and another with all the stations taken out that are not accessible. Then you see what a map really looks like to a wheelchair user or pram pusher for that matter. 

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Barriers to travel not the same for everyone

Picture of people carrying luggage up 56 step to the train platform. There is a wheelchair platform lift folded up at the bottom.The latest article on inclusive travel by Bob McKercher and Simon Darcy presents a systematic framework of the range of barriers affecting the ability of people with disability to travel. It is classified into a four tier framework from generic to specific. Below is an excerpt from the abstract explaining more about the four tier framework:

Previous studies tended to aggregate barriers into a single group … The failure to recognise the complex, yet subtle interplay between tourism and different types of barriers results in the tendency to see people with disabilities as a homogeneous group where a one size fits all solution applies. In reality, they are a heterogeneous cohort who face the same types of barriers as everyone, some barriers that are common to all people with disabilities, those that are unique to each disability dimension and specific impairment effects that are individualistic.

The full title of the article is “Re-conceptualizing barriers to travel by people with disabilities”, and is available from Science Direct, or directly from Simon Darcy on Research Gate.  Published in Tourism Management Perspectives.  

 

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Accessible Agritourism

People are looking at bright orange pumpkins piled in rows in a field on a farmInclusive tourism has received a lot of attention recently. One area that hasn’t had a lot of attention in Australia is accessible AgriTourism. A well designed conference poster published by Ohio State University encapsulates the key points. The poster poses this question: “Ohio has almost 700 farms with an agritourism feature, which brings visitors to vineyards, orchards, and corn mazes, but are these farms welcoming to everyone?” Using photos it explains how to make farms and vineyards more accessible to everyone. Tasmania also has a 2017 draft Agritourism Strategy, but it doesn’t say anything about inclusion and accessibility. 

Editor’s Note: Sneak preview –  inclusive tourism is a major theme for CUDA’s upcoming UD conference. Presenters include keynote Chris Veitch, Nadia Feeney from the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse, Bill Forrester from Travability, and Chris Maclean from Local Government NSW among others. 

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Tactile or 3D?

A metal model showing a town layout in relief with Braille on buildings and streets. There is a church and lots of houses and a town square represented.Three researchers from Monash University carried out a study to see if 3D printed models offered more information than tactile graphics such as maps. There were some interesting findings that were presented in a conference paper. The abstract gives a good overview:

Abstract: Tactile maps are widely used in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training for people with blindness and severe vision impairment. Commodity 3D printers now offer an alternative way to present accessible graphics, however it is unclear if 3D models offer advantages over tactile equivalents for 2D graphics such as maps. In a controlled study with 16 touch readers, we found that 3D models were preferred, enabled the use of more easily understood icons, facilitated better short term recall and allowed relative height of map elements to be more easily understood. Analysis of hand movements revealed the use of novel strategies for systematic scanning of the 3D model and gaining an overview of the map. Finally, we explored how 3D printed maps can be augmented with interactive audio labels, replacing less practical braille labels. Our findings suggest that 3D printed maps do indeed offer advantages for O&M training. 

Paradoxically, the freely available PDF version is in two columns and in Times New Roman font – both aspects that are not recommended for people with low vision or for screen readers. The full title of the paper is, “Accessible Maps for the Blind: Comparing 3D Printed Models with Tactile Graphics”.  You can see a related article that found 3D models helped everyone’s understanding.

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