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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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?
What does the international research on accessible nature-based tourism say? That’s what researchers in Sweden checked out. Nine major themes emerged:
employee attitudes towards people with disability
accessibility of tourism websites and information systems
accessible transportation, accommodation and tourist attractions
experience, motivations and constraints in tourism settings for people with disability
tourism for the families and carers of people with disability
tourism and leisure activities for older people
the accessible tourism market
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.
Listed as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Melbourne is now aiming to be the most visitable. Visit Victoria and Destination Melbourne have produced resources for both business and visitors. For businesses yet to get on board with being visitable, the individual visitor pages serve as examples of what to look for and what actions to take. Accessible Tourism – it’s your business resource kit has six short chapters with case studies:
Discover what you are missing Explore your local area Make low cost changes Assess your building a facilities Describe your business Promote your business Develop a business plan
The PDF version of the kit with graphics has not thought about accessibility of the document in terms of font contrast. However, the Word version addresses this and also reminds us that not all people can access a PDF document.
The Word version cuts out all the graphics and is not only more accessible for screen readers, it is also a better version for printing pages for checklists.
It’s a simple thing and doesn’t always take much to achieve. The British Beer & Pub Association has a straightforward booklet of advice and good case studies for accessibility. It dispels a lot of myths, and many of the adaptations are simple, such as easy to read menus. It covers physical, sensory and cognitive issues that potential customers might have. So joke-type symbols for toilets are not a good idea, as well as understanding that not all disabilities are visible. Excellent resource for any food and beverage venue. As is often the case, it is not rocket science or costly, just thoughtful.
Promoting the business benefits of inclusive tourism doesn’t always hit the mark. Making places inclusive and accessible seems too daunting a task for many operators. So where do people with disability like to go and what do they want to do? A photo galleryin video form from Travability gives a really good idea. While this professional photo gallery has wheelchair users in every picture, it should be remembered that wheelchair users are a small proportion of the number of people needing more inclusive experiences. However, the pictures are excellent and provide a breadth of experiences.
Note that all people pictured are real wheelchair users in their own wheelchairs. They are not models posed in a stock wheelchair. Operators and travellers can find much more on the Travability website. See the section on this website devoted to travel and tourism.