The introduction to the Queensland Government’s guide, Inclusive Tourism: Making your business more accessible and inclusive, begins, “This guide has been developed primarily for tourism operators, to help them:
- increase their knowledge about the market for accessible tourism
- develop strategies to improve the accessibility of their operation to appeal to a wider range of visitors of all abilities and ages
- understand their legal obligations in relation to inclusive and accessible tourism.
The guide also includes information to assist people with disability in planning a holiday. Local government can use this guide to: support and promote inclusive tourism across businesses, festivals, events and public spaces; and to incorporate inclusive and accessible design into their design codes and planning guidelines.
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.
Yet another excellent resource for the tourism and travel industry – an industry now leading the way in best practice. Importantly, the principles and learnings from case studies can be applied everywhere. The business world should take note of the good advice in Destinations for All: A guide to creating accessible destinations.
Included in the guide are several case studies, some statistics on the number of people left out if the destination if it is not inclusive, engaging with other businesses, and dispelling myths. It even challenges the notion that heritage issues make it impossible by showcasing the Roman Baths project. This guide is informed by research and can be applied as much to a day out in Sydney or Melbourne as a two week holiday in Scotland.
One of the first centres for universal design was set up in Japan, so it is no real surprise that Japan Airlines is pushing Boeing to re-think aircraft and air travel design especially as they not only employ many older workers, they also want to appeal to the older traveller. Anthropologist Kenneth C Erickson writes a very interesting chapter on this in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, which is available from Google books. He covers the whole travel experience from a user perspective using ethnographic techniques. It seems that Boeing, in trying to make the flight experience more convenient, might be adopting universal design principles without perhaps realising it. Here is an an excerpt from the latter part of the text:
“Boeing knows how important it is to see where you are, where you are going, and what things look like outside the airplane window. They’ve reconfigured the interior of the new Dreamliner so that windows are … roughly eye-level. The carbon-fiber fuselage allows greater structural strength and affords bigger windows, while light-sensitive glass obviates the need for those window shades that used to be difficult for passengers to manage […] And although we think of Boeing as making only the airplane, they also make jet-bridges and some of the display technology that shows seat availability for passengers waiting at the gate. This is evidence that Boeing already knows that air travel does not begin when passengers enter the plane; it is not inconceivable that they may broaden their view of travel further and include the entire process of baggage handling, making it, too, more transparent. […] And the work of flight attendants on the ground and in the air … can be made visible and appreciated, so they in turn may see and appreciate those whose bodies – and luggage – they care for. That’s where universal design fosters a good kind of globalization: through it we recognize our common, traveling humanity, and the difference between the temporarily able-bodied and the other dissolves, for a time, into thin air.”
The title of the chapter is, Able to Fly: Temporality, Visibility & the Disabled Airline Passenger, in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, 2016
Accessibility and hospitality have been worlds apart. That one room for wheelchair users at the end of the hallway, a terrible view, and only one bed. Hotel managers still have ugly design in their minds thinking hospital-looking bathrooms, and fear that “other” guests would never book the room. The Hotel Accessibility website has some great articles aimed at hotel managers. For example, this one titled, Hotel Managers – who is the sexiest of all? Here is an excerpt:
“In this day and age, thanks to all the progress that has been made, the most sophisticated wheelchairs, stunning design accessible bathrooms and of course smartphones and tablets have helped people facing a disability tremendously. And now they like to travel the world. Just like anybody else.”
As Marlies van Sint Annaland says, “If hotels invest a tiny percentage of their marketing budget on promoting their accessible facilities – rooms, pool, fitness, wellness – it will bring more than tenfold the investment in no time.”
While the emphasis of many accessible travel websites is on wheelchair users, it should not be forgotten that not everyone with a disability is a wheelchair user, for example, older ambulant people, people who are deaf, and people with low vision. However, a room that can accommodate a wheelchair user, can accommodate anyone.
Editor note: The Hotel Accessibility website is most useful for its written articles aimed at the hotel industry. It has a way to go before being useful for the traveller. Other sites do this better, for example, Travability.
The Lonely Planet website has a section on accessible destinations. The section is looked after by Martin Heng. On the list of the 10 most accessible places in the world is Melbourne. The others are: Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Barcelona, Spain; Sicily, Italy; Manchester, UK; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Singapore; San Diego, USA; Vienna, Austria, and surprisingly, Galapagos and Amazonia, Ecuador. A short overview of each destination is provided and other information and personal stories are included on the site. With a focus on wheelchair users, it is essentially the most wheelchair accessible destinations.
Picture: Schonbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna. They have a motorised ‘train’ that circles the site and takes people to the key viewing spots.