Taking off at Brisbane Airport

A man and two women stand in front of the toilet. In front of them is a green ribbon. The woman in the middle is about to cut the ribbon.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.


Handbook for inclusive tourism

cover of the handbook in black and whiteUniversal 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 Rains has white hair and beard. He is wearing a red shirt and you can see he is seated in a wheelchairScott, 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.

Archaeology and universal design

The photo is of the remains of the Roman Theatre. This is a stone semicircular ampitheatre that has been uncovered by archaeologists. 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.  

Tourism, access and heritage

Heritage Facade of the museum showing pale yellow stone bricks a doorway and four windowsAntonio Espinosa-Ruiz, Director of Vilamuseu in Spain explains some of the detail they have applied to their heritage sites, and laments that most museum professionals do not consider accessibility as part of their work. He says that access and inclusion cannot be waived, “nothing can be done without it”. They do not adapt, that is, create something and then think how to make it inclusive, “…we design for all from the beginning”. The article has a long but descriptive title: Design for all in Vilamuseu (Villajoyosa, Spain): How we work day by day to make heritage inclusive on one of the World’s main tourist regions. The article is is somewhat wordy but there are some good examples here. Accessibility in a museum is much more than just thinking about the building – it’s making exhibits and learning available to all.

The article is from the Design for All Newsletter India. 

Strong business case still not enough?

A graphic from the article showing a red centre circle with smaller blue circles surrounding it. It depicts the process for accessible product developmentBill Forrester has written an excellent and comprehensive article about the business case for inclusive travel and tourism. This evidence has been around for a while, and Bill is not the only one promoting it. So why is it taking so long for things to change? Bill argues that while the arguments are compelling, they are too big to comprehend at a local level. Knowing the size of the potential market is not much help to a small operator – the business owner needs to know what to do about it. That means tangible action plans based on customer needs. Universal design underpins this article which has some nice graphics to help explain the planning, design, delivery, and marketing process. You can get more detailed information on the Travability website.

See more on accessible travel and tourism on this website.

UD and Norwegian Tourism Services

Tall houses are reflected in the water.The houses are different colours, yellow, red and blueNorway is a leader in implementing the principles of universal design in built and virtual environments. The study by Linh Nguyen found that while most Norwegian tourism services are universally designed in terms of the service itself, the communication aspect of the service is not. Based on a European Commission report*, people with some form of disability spend more time than others on preparing for a trip to ensure their needs are met. Hence the need for specific information that can be easily found in tourist information material and websites. 

The study used the excellent tourism toolkits from Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland to assess Norwegian services for accessibility and universal design. The title of the thesis is, “Universal Design in Norwegian Tourism Services for Customer Engagement”. You can download the PDF (10MB) directly, or go to the institutional website to see the abstract and download the document from there. An interesting study for anyone interested in tourism and travel and the CEUD toolkits are also well designed. The logo of Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland, purple colour circular design.CEUD website has some interesting tourism case studies.



*European Commission Report, “Economic  Impact and Travel Patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe – Final Report”.

Robert Jones Oration 2017: Economics of Tourism

Professor Simon Darcy presented the third Robert Jones Oration in Brisbane in February. The transcript and presentation slides are now available for download. Professor Darcy’s presentation covered the UN World Tourism Organisation and the economic benefits of accessible tourism, Universal Design as it is identified by the UN, and the Travel Chain. You can download a transcript, the slides and the videos from the presentation from the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland website.

Robert Jones (1958-2013) was a well-known disability advocate in Queensland. His evidence in the 1994 Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre case against the State Government was a turning point for all Australians in gaining equitable access to buildings. The annual Oration is supported by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission.

The Inaugural Oration was presented by Dr Margaret Ward PSM, a personal friend of Robert Jones and gives an insight into his work before proposing some thoughts about the public interest in the design of private housing.

The 2015 Oration was given by Mr Maha Sinnathamby on visitability and equitable access in our homes and provides on economic overview of the costs of not providing accessible housing for all.

The picture above shows Kevin Cocks AM, Queensland Disability Commissioner; Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive Qld Tourism; Hon. Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Disability Services; and Professor Simon Darcy


EU tourist guide

Front cover of publication. Blue background with a night time scene across a cityThe 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.”

Landscape view of Barangaroo Parkland showing a pedestrian, wheelchair user, cyclist and pram pusher

picture source: http://www.barangaroo.sydney/accessibility/

Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide

Front cover of the guide showing a man in a red shirt with his arms outstrechedThe 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. Download the guide from the link on the Queensland Government website.

Inclusive Hotels: A guide

Hotel bedroom with polished floors, orange and red pillows on a couch and textured wallpaperThe 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.