Off to work we go. Or do we?

A man holding a boarding pass in his hand along with a bag. You can see the airport in the background.Travelling to work is one thing. Travelling for work is another.  A recent study of Australian university staff who travel for work revealed common difficulties. All participants reported that their disability, whether declared or not, affected their ability to undertake work-based travel. Some of their necessary compromises involved extra cost at their own expense. 

There are four things that make travelling for work difficult for people with disability. They are the way the current system is designed, stigma and victimisation, self reliance and asking for help. And of course, double the effort that anyone else takes for an event-free journey. These factors also apply to the tourism sector. That’s because academics who frequently travel for work might extend their stay for a short vacation. They might take their family too.

The university travel booking service on campus often asked participants to seek additional information themselves. This was not seen as part of the service. One participant found it easier to bypass the system and do their own bookings even though they had to foot the bill. Potentially, the system isn’t smooth sailing for others either.

Another participant was told by a supervisor they couldn’t be an academic if it meant travelling overseas. Booking travel also meant revealing a previously hidden disability. This is a tricky area. Other articles have revealed the reticence to declare a disability for fear of discrimination and disbelief

The article, Negotiating work-based travel for people with disabilities, has some recommendations. They are applicable for workplaces and tourism operators alike.  You will need institutional access for a free read or contact the authors at The University of Queensland.

Abstract: In an ideal world, inclusive travel services would value each person, support full participation and seek to embrace the similarities, as well as the differences, to be found in society. Anecdotally at least, it seems the unspoken truth for many individuals with a disability is that efforts to engage in any form of travel are often thwarted by poor service provision, systemic bias and discrimination. Using an inductive line of inquiry, this Australian study sought to detail how staff with a disability in the higher education sector negotiated their work-related travel responsibilities. Findings revealed that many felt compromised by current systems and practices with many required to go ‘above and beyond’ that expected of their work colleagues. The results of the research project serve to inform employers about the often unvoiced challenges employees with disabilities face when meeting work-based travel expectations. The findings also contribute directly to the transformative service research agenda by offering clear insight into how the travel and hospitality industry might be more inclusive of employees travelling for work-based purposes to the benefit of all parties.

Guides for historic buildings and places

Front cover of the guide.Buildings from previous centuries didn’t consider access and inclusion, so the two don’t 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. These places 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.

Front cover of the guide with four pictures of people in different historic locationsHistoric landscapes, gardens and open spaces are there for everyone to enjoy. Historic England has produced a guide for anyone working to open up historic sites to a wider audience. This edition promotes an inclusive approach to ensure that every visitor to an historic park, garden or landscape has a meaningful experience – not just physical access. Property owners and managers designers, and planners should find the guide helpful in tackling all aspects of the visitor experience. The key elements of the Easy Access to Historic Landscapes guide are:

      1. Why access matters
      2. Planning better access
      3. Making access a reality
      4. Published sources of information
      5. Where to get advice  

visits4U Inclusive Toursim

Logo of visits 4 uWho is the customer of inclusive tourism? Everyone! This is the introduction to the visits4U Access Guide for tourism operators. The Guide is from Europe. It has a project guide and a short online training course. The good part of this training course is that it comes in text and audio voice-over. A PDF transcription for each module is available for download.

Good to see an inclusive training program being inclusive. The information is to the point and easy to understand.The three training modules on Vimeo are:

      1. Hotels and Accommodation Providers, 15 minute video.
      2. D/deaf Awareness, 12 minute video.
      3. Information and Wayfinding, 12 minute video.

There is a more comprehensive report from the European Concept for Accessibility, Design for All in Tourist Destinations. It includes several European case studies and there’s also one from Australia. Each one is examined for seven success factors, and drivers and obstacles. 

While the current pandemic conditions prevail, this is a good time to refresh tourism businesses to make them more inclusive. After all, people often travel in groups and if it’s inaccessible for one, the whole group goes elsewhere.

 

Accessible? Is that Inclusive?

Martin Heng sits in a chair and there is an elephant closeby. He fist-bumps the elephant's trunk. ant using its trunk.There’s a growing realisation that accessibility does not equal inclusion. Getting in and out of somewhere is only the beginning. Being able to participate on an equal basis requires inclusive thinking and design. This includes the tourism sector.

Martin Heng, formerly of Lonely Planet, has an article in New Mobility that addresses this issue from a tourism perspective. He argues that the term “Accessible Tourism” is unhelpful. It has helped identify a market segment in economic terms, and some operators are on board. But it only goes so far. Change is slow and piecemeal. 

Heng’s article is titled, “It’s Time to Move Beyond Access to Inclusion“.  He concludes his article by saying we need to go beyond market segment ideas. We need to encourage the tourism industry to adopt an inclusive mindset. 

Language and labelling is important. Choosing the right terms can make a big difference. “Accessible” is strongly linked with disability – particularly wheelchair users. “Inclusive” makes us think more broadly – families, people from diverse backgrounds, children and older people. 

There are more articles and guidelines on inclusive tourism on this website.

Image courtesy of New Mobility showing Martin Heng interacting with an elephant.

Accessibility from a tourism perspective

A white church with two turrets at each end of the facade with yellow detail.Medieval cities in Europe are popular with tourists, but they were not designed for a diverse population. Excluding one older person or person with disability means excluding the whole family or travelling group. Not good for maximising tourism business. Networks of pathways between heritage sites often pose barriers to access. Footpaths are either too narrow, have plantings and seats in the way, or are non existent. From Portugal comes a case study of pathway assessments and recommendations for improved accessibility. And it’s not just tourists and tourism businesses that benefits – residents benefit too.

The title of the article is, Cultural accessible pedestrian ways. The case of faro historic centre. There’s a detailed methodology that’s a bit confusing, but the second half of the paper has the discussion and the recommendations. Photos help explain and the text looks as if it has been translated from Portuguese. Faro is a municipality in the Algarve.

Abstract: In a historic city the existence of accessible pedestrian routes constitutes an essential feature to a true access to culture heritage, contributing for processes of social inclusion. It is necessary to create accessible pedestrian infrastructures network to hold a set of attributes that guarantee usability for all citizens. The creation and design of an accessible physical environment should be considered as a criterion of urban quality, which will make walking more pleasant not only for the elderly and people with disabilities but, also, for the entire resident population and tourists. In this case study it is ascertainable whether the physical characteristics of pedestrian infrastructures of cultural interest, located in the Historical Centre of Faro (Portugal), comply with the requirements of the National Law of Accessibility. There has, therefore, been created a methodology for evaluating the accessibility of pedestrian infrastructure through the construction of performance indicators. The analysis is achieved through a model of evaluation of the degree of conformity of the spaces, and presented, spatially, with appeal to a Geographical Information System, which is a tool to support the decision taking in the processes of urban rehabilitation, thus contributing to the choice of priority areas of intervention in the field of accessibility. The diagnosis confirms the existence of inaccessible pedestrian infrastructure and concludes the need to trigger processes of urban renovation.

Expanding flying toilet

A view down the aisle of a narrow body aircraft.The toilet is the lynch pin of a trip for many travellers and no more so than for wheelchair users. When it comes to flying, aircraft toilets pose many problems. Until now. An expandable toilet comes to the rescue. However, it will be a while before they are fitted to existing fleets. An article in the online magazine, Business Traveller, tells of an accessible toilet for single-aisle aircraft. Two firms got together to design the concept of the expanding aircraft toilet. During a flight, crew can unlatch one wall, pull out an extension into the galley to create 40 per cent more space. It has been designed to replace existing lavatories on narrow-body aircraft, which are extremely difficult to use for anyone requiring a wheelchair or assistance from a carer. There is more to the story and several pictures in the article to demonstrate how it would work 

Firms create accessible toilet for single-aisle aircraft

Inclusive Towns: business, tourism and employment

A multicoloured logo of overlapping circles.The Inclusive Towns project is about increasing the participation and inclusion of people with disability. It presents the arguments heard before about missing out on potential business by ignoring this group and their fellow travellers. What makes this project different is help with employment of people with disability. The project produced a website with four key guides:

Links to many other helpful resources are included on this website including one on accessible events.

The project is a partnership between the City of Greater Bendigo, Loddon Shire & Mount Alexander Shire in Victoria. It was funded by the NDIS. 

A wheelchair user enters the frame on the left hand side. The background is a blurred out cafe setting.

Swim, Sail and Relax

Front cover showing two people surfing in black wet suits. One is laying down on the board the other is standing on it.Having fun in the sand and surf is the iconic Australian pastime. But not everyone gets an opportunity to join in the fun. The Association of Consultants in Access, Australia newsletter features articles and case studies on beach access, sailing, a resort for people with spinal cord injury, and provisions for people with autism. Plus the general news of the association. The articles mainly feature specialist activities and designs, such as the resort. But that is all part of creating an inclusive society.

The newsletter is available online where you can choose to view online through Issuu or download a PDF version (7MB).

 

Dementia-friendly tourism: a guide

An older couple stand on a railway platform. A row of train carriages is in the background.Making your accommodation, business or tourist attraction dementia-friendly is not difficult. It just takes a bit of extra thought. Once you get the idea of what sorts of things matter, it becomes easy to do.

A guide from the Visit England project covers these topics so business can understand and prepare for people with dementia, and their families. It’s easy to read with really simple things to do that will help, such as a simple bedside clock, avoiding shiny reflective surfaces, and wild bold patterns for bed covers and carpets. Case studies highlight the value of these small but important details. 30 pages including lots of pictures.The guide includes:

Why become dementia friendly
What is dementia?
Living well with dementia
Information
People
Place
What can I do next?

Inclusive Outdoor Recreation

A man with a backpack is walking down a path on a hillside. What does the international research on accessible nature-based tourism say? That’s what researchers in Sweden checked out.  Nine major themes emerged:

      1. employee attitudes towards people with disability
      2. accessibility of tourism websites and information systems
      3. accessible transportation, accommodation and tourist attractions
      4. technical solutions
      5. experience, motivations and constraints in tourism settings for people with disability
      6. tourism for the families and carers of people with disability
      7. tourism and leisure activities for older people
      8. the accessible tourism market
      9. nature-based tourism and outdoor recreation

This review found that existing research took the perspective of the consumer rather and the tourism operator. The report goes into more detail on the nine factors. It includes evidence from USA, Europe, UK and Sweden. The title of the report is, Enhancing Accessibility in Tourism & Outdoor Recreation: A Review of Major Research Themes and a Glance at Best Practice.

An very academic article, but with important findings. The key point – we need more research on businesses rather than consumers.