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
The European Concept for Accessibility Network (EuCAN) has produced a tourism guide based on their Design for All (Universal Design) principles. Each chapter is a case study, and each discusses the seven success factors, and drivers and obstacles. Cities featured are located in Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain and Australia.
Design for All in Tourist Destinations includes a section on Sydney’s “Cultural Ribbon”, which was written by Simon Darcy and Barbara Almond. It discusses the accessibility of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore precincts including the Sydney Opera House, and Darling Harbour. It is good to see Australia featured in this European publication as an example of best practice. A comprehensive reference list is included.
In the introduction it encourages a business approach rather than a compliance approach which can result in push-back so that the market remains marginalised rather than being seen as a profit centre. ” In the past, it was expected that a person would give up their personal goals, when the environmental or organisational possibilities to make it happen appeared to be too difficult or even unrealistic. Today, we have the technical and organisational means to overcome many barriers and, at the same time, the freedom for personal decision-making has been anchored in a set of nondiscrimination laws.”
NOTE: Simon Darcy is part of a line up of experts for an Accessible Tourism Webinar on 31 march 2017.
picture source: http://www.barangaroo.sydney/accessibility/
The Inclusive Hotels Network has published a guide for including people with hearing loss. The guide includes the business case, customer profiles, fixtures and fittings, technology, customer service and management systems. It also has a section on the different terms and types of hearing loss. The experiences people who are deaf or hard of hearing have in day to day life are also covered. And this includes hotel employees as well as guests. Many of the design suggestions seem to be common sense when they are drawn to our attention, and they are often simple minor but important details. However, guides such as these are needed to spell out this “common sense”. An excellent and easy to read resource.
Similarly to Australia, one in six people in the UK have hearing loss and almost half are of working age, so it is not just about older age.
More resources can be found on the Centre for Accessible Environments (UK) website.
Clearly the tourism and travel industry have recognised the market potential and are working quickly to tap into it. To celebrate World Tourism Day 2016, a booklet was published: “Tourism for All – promoting universal accessibility” – Good Practices in the Accessible Tourism Supply Chain”. It has some great case studies from several countries, and covers heritage tours, art exhibitions – one that has a tactile picture of the Mona Lisa, visiting a national park, accessible online travel resources, and guiding visitors with learning difficulties. Contributors come from India, Spain, Canada, Japan and Australia.
World Tourism Day and the booklet is a joint project between the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the ONCE foundation in Spain, and ENAT, the European Network for Accessible Tourism.