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).
Knowing a Changing Places toilet is available at Brisbane airport means that some travellers will deliberately break their journey here to use the facilities. The facility is so well used a second is planned for Brisbane’s International Terminal. This facility removes a major barrier to travel for people with disability, their family members and companions. The picture shows the ribbon cutting at the opening of the facility. Brisbane Airport also caters for assistance animals in both terminals. Other travel and journey improvements include:
- In collaboration with QUT-based Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers (DCRC-CC) developing a step by step guide – Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide to Brisbane Airport for people living with Dementia and their Travel Companions – an action plan and resources kit for airport staff to improve the experience of air travel for people with dementia. Through this program Brisbane Airport was the first airport in Australia to be recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as an approved Dementia Friendly organisation.
- Development of Brisbane Airport’s Accessibility Journey Planner which is due for release later this year
- Completion of an Access Audit Program across both terminals by an accredited access consultant who provided recommendations.
- Completion of a number of accessibility remediation projects including upgrading of public stairs, Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s) to escalators and travelators, lift upgrades and way-finding.
- Australia’s first dedicated airport Assistance Animals ‘bathrooms’ were opened in 2014 in the International and Domestic Terminals.
Universal Design: A Guide for Inclusive Tourism was created by Scott Rains, a well known travel writer and thought leader in accessible and inclusive travel and tourism. The information is presented succinctly with one topic per page. Pictures and graphics are used extensively. In the introduction Scott explains why he doesn’t use the term “accessible tourism”. He explains, “When people hear the word “accessible” attached to tourism they think they have a pretty good idea what that means. This is the problem. Almost everybody thinks they know what it means but, since it has never been fully defined, almost everybody has invented their own personal definition. That is a recipe for disaster. It is possible for a place to be accessible while the activities taking place there or the attitudes of those employed there remain grossly exclusionary”.
Scott, a passionate advocate for universal design, passed away in 2016, but it is good to see his work continued by others across the globe. He was the publisher of an e-newsletter, Rolling Rains, to help promote the concepts.
While many places in the U.K. offer accessible features for guests with disability, 63 percent don’t promote the fact according to Bill Forrester in his TravAbility newsletter. VisitEngland and VisitScotland have launched a website for tourism businesses to produce accessibility guides to help overcome this problem. Tourism operators can use the new, free website, www.accessibilityguides.org, to produce and publish their accessibility guides. These guides should also be useful for Australian tourism operators as well. Remember, people with disability rarely travel alone – at least no more than the general population. So it is not just one person avoiding inaccessible places.
An interesting mix of universal design, laser technology and tourism are in this article about universal design and an archaeological site. The authors claim that using laser technology across the site enables them to find the best routes for visitors. The subject of the study is Tusculum Archaeological-Cultural Park near Rome. This culturally significant site is both a tourist destination and a venue for performances of classic works. The paper looks as if it has been translated from Italian and the language is difficult in places, but for people interested in laser technology, surveying, 3D imaging, and heritage sites this paper should be interesting. The photos and drawings add to the paper.
The title of the paper is, Infographic modeling based on 3D laser surveying for informed universal design in archaeological areas: The case of Oppidum of the ancient city of Tusculum. It was published in ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume IV-2/W2, 2017 26th International CIPA Symposium 2017, 28 August–01 September 2017, Ottawa, Canada.