How can you make an hotel, a place of interest, an event, or holiday accessible and inclusive? What’s actually involved and why should anyone bother? The answer to these and many other questions are found in a comprehensive e-learning program – and it’s free! The course was developed by Local Government NSW to help tourism operators make the most of their potential clientele. There are several modules and each has learning content followed by quick questions. You can access the course, the case studies and resources on the Local Government NSW website.
The course was developed as a result of a collaboration with the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse when it became clear that information about accessible and inclusive tourist destinations and activities was often incomplete. Although this was developed with local council tourist centres in mind, the content is applicable broadly – including shops, cafes, restaurants and novelty places – anywhere for visitors whether they are local, interstate or international.
Buildings from previous centuries didn’t consider access and inclusion, so the two don’t always go together well. Historic England has taken on the challenge with their updated guide, Easy Access to Historic Buildings. The guide also includes information for businesses and attractions within an historic site, such as shops and cafes that aren’t necessarily historic, but add to the overall visitor experience. The guide is comprehensive and replaces their 2004 edition. It can be downloaded in sections.
The visits4u access guide is for businesses, organisations and their staff involved in the tourism industry: hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies, tourism authorities, art and cultural attractions. The recommendations are aimed at improving the accessibility of tourist services. The short document on Who is the Customer of Inclusive Tourism provides some basic but important advice. There are separate sections on hotels, shops and restaurants, cultural attractions, wayfinding and signage, hearing augmentation, and marketing and promotion. There is also an online training course and much more to be found on the website. In the section on Routes, partners in Greece, Latvia and Spain designed itineraries that promote local history and modern culture, with up to date access information for routes and places to visit. And there is much more.
The guidelines are the result of seven European countries collaborating to improve user experience and sustain inclusive design across the partner countries, and to build capacity in the tourism sector. visits4u is co-funded by the COSME Programme of the European Union.
Travability’s travel blog has an article about Accor hotels and what they are attempting to achieve with their accessible room designs. Accor calls it their “smart room”. It features many of the design aspects that you would expect in a room compliant to disability access requirements plus a bit of design polish – something else you would expect with an up-market hotel chain. A closer look at the picture of the bathroom might make an access consultant question a few things – particularly the juxtaposition of some elements with each other and placement within the room. Maybe it is just the angle of the pictures. Accor claims the room to be universally designed, and it is, from the perspective of almost anyone could use it provided the bathroom suits. Some of the really good things are in the technology – this is what makes the room smart and where the biggest gains have been made. See the article for the full description and pictures.
Brisbane Airport has an airport user guide for travellers with dementia. They have used the information from DementiaKT for the guide, so there are links to other resources as well. The guide is titled, Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide through the Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal for People Living with Dementia and their Travel Companions. It is simply written and easy to follow and covers preparing for the journey, getting to the airport, checking in and flying out. Coming home again addresses, passport, baggage claim, and domestic transfers among other things. There is a list of dementia friendly symbols at the end of the guide. While this guide is specific to Brisbane International Airport, much of the information could be adapted for other airports in Australia. As with most things designed with a particular disability in mind, it is probably useful for any first time overseas traveller.
Tactile models of buildings and spaces are made with blind people in mind to help them orientate in unfamiliar surroundings. Many are found in tourist destinations where they can also provide information about the building or space itself. It turns out that sighted people like to use them and touch them too. While this can cause some problems with inappropriate use, there is another, unexpected up side. The author argues that tactile models may become a “completely valuable, universal tool for learning and a great way of studying architecture in an alternative way”. The article reports on a study of this perspective of tactile models. This is another example that highlights the idea that so-called “designing for the disabled” is in fact, designing for everyone. The title of the article is Tactile Architectural Models as Universal ‘Urban Furniture’. (“Furniture” is a bit misleading in this title).
When you gotta go, you gotta go. To make this event more interesting we now we have international toilet tourism awards. These toilets are not just functional, they are interesting too. However, not sure if all are accessible judging by the comments. You can read more about each of the winners and the judges comments in the different categories. Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria all have winners. Toowoomba’s portable toilet took out the main prize. Other winners are from the USA and New Zealand. And yes, there is such a thing as World Toilet Day. Get your toilet nomination ready for next year’s awards – let’s see some creative and accessible toilets as winners!. Submissions open next February.
The toilet pictured above as beach huts is one in the Toowoomba Portable Toilet range, and the one to the left depicting a rustic theme is the overall winner for 2017.