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.
Tourism Australia has a web page titled Accessible Tourism. It is not a “how to” page. It gives a brief description of what accessible tourism is and Australian policies and legislation. Then it refers readers to a list of other organisations or guides listed below. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start for tourism businesses, planners and local government.
Tourism Research Australia, in partnership with Tourism, Events and Visitor Economy branch of the Victorian Government, and Tourism and Events Queensland, commissioned a study into accessible tourism in Victoria, Queensland and Australia. The research was conducted between April and August 2017.
PhotoAbility– Stock image library featuring individuals with disabilities in travel, leisure and lifestyle settings.
Push Adventures – Push Adventures is a South Australian business, founded in 2014, that offers advice to make tourism businesses inclusive and accessible by a whole range of guests.
Sydney for All– A visitors’ guide to Sydney using universal icons to help users decide which attractions provide the appropriate level of access.
Accessible Victoria – The official tourist site for Melbourne and Victoria including information on accessible accommodation, activities and attractions and the best ways to get around in Melbourne and Victoria.
Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide – The Queensland Government has developed a guide for making businesses more accessible and inclusive to assist tourism operators understand their legal obligations in relation to accessibility, increase their knowledge about the market for inclusive tourism, and develop strategies to improve the accessibility of their business to appeal to a wider range of visitors of all abilities and ages.
TravAbility– TravAbility is dedicated to Inclusive Tourism through education, advocacy, and by providing accessibility information for the world’s best travel destinations.
Cangoeverywhere.com.au – A website created to help seniors, baby boomers, people with disabilities and anyone with special requirements, find accessible accommodation, restaurants, activities and more around Australia.
Travellers Aid Australia – An organisation that provides simple, practical travel-related support and aid to help visitors of all backgrounds travel independently and confidently.
Vision Australia – Vision Australia (an organisation which assists those with vision impairment) has a large range of fact sheets on issues relating to people who are blind and vision impaired. The fact sheets range from accessible design for homes to customer service tips.
Inclusive Tourism: Economic Opportunities – This report is part of a project that aims to enable regional tourism businesses and local governments to improve information about and the marketing of inclusive services and products. This project is led by Local Government NSW with the University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Public Policy and Governance providing research support.
The Good Scout An Australian accessible travel platform with the mission to ensure that travellers with access needs get the holiday they want.
Including people with disability also includes people with young children in prams, older people, and people with temporary disabilities. Accessible, or inclusive tourism is about ensuring tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. There are more guides in a previous post.
Hospitality magazine has a good article on making small business accessible. It recommends thinking about access and inclusion from the start, not as an afterthought. And it isn’t all about wheelchairs. Being able to read the menu without getting out your phone flashlight to see it is a start. While Braille menus would be great, reading the standard menu to someone who is blind and sitting alone is essential, not just a courtesy. The assistance dog is not expected to read it. And this isn’t just about the law.
“While many businesses adhere to protocol, they still aren’t doing enough to truly welcome customers with a disability. A ramp might allow access to the premises, but is there enough room for diners to move around freely once seated?” However, some developers are thinking ahead.
“The Lendlease team took into account everything from footpath width and the design of entryways to countertop heights and amenities when building the King Street precinct in Brisbane.
At the end of the article, Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, is a list of organisations that can help businesses improve their customer service and repeat business. City of Melbourne has an infographic on Good Access is Good Business. It has the key points on a page. However, infographics are not accessible to people who use screen readers.
International travel is a great experience for everyone especially when operators get on board with inclusive thinking. In his latest article, Martin Henggoes beyond the rights arguments to explain the economics of inclusive travel. With a growing market of older travellers tourism and travel businesses need to step up to take advantage. Heng also picks up the issue of terminology: “accessible” makes people think of compliance for wheelchair users. But he rightly points out that wheelchair users are a small proportion of the population that has some kind of disability or chronic health condition. That’s why we should be calling it “inclusive travel”.
Heng goes on to list the easy, cost effective things that businesses can do. And not just thinking about the building. Easy to read fonts on menus and other information materials, TVs with captioning options, and websites that provide relevant visitor information about rooms, attractions and services. The article has several pictures showing Martin in various overseas locations. The title is What is accessible travel, and why should we be talking about it? Martin Heng works for Lonely Planet as their Accessible Travel Manager.
Scandic has embraced the principles of universal design throughout its hotel chain for more than ten years. This makes for an interesting case study in inclusive tourism because it goes deep into hotel operations. So it is not all about wheelchair accessible rooms – it is much more. And as always with customer service, it is the little things, such as being able to reach the coffee cups at the breakfast bar. The article on the Norwegian Inclusive Design website, is short and to the point and shows how all hotels can benefit from small but effective changes to practices. The video below shows how they took a universal design approach. The architect said it was more about use of materials than wheelchair circulation space.
“The best evidence on that we are doing something right came from a guest. She told me that when she is staying at Scandic she is treated like a regular guest, not a disabled one”. Magnus Berglund, Scandic.
Queensland Rail has improved accessibility on the Spirit of Queensland. This journey from Brisbane to Cairns over 25 hours can accommodate most types of power wheelchairs or mobility scooters. Seating car E has three wheelchair spaces, with four additional accessible seats for people who transfer to a seat. It also has an accessible toilet and shower compartment. There is captioning on messages and selected movies as well as hearing loops. Nice contrasting of colours on seats and flooring, plus Braille and tactile signage.
The Queensland Rail website has a lot more information about accessibility on the Spirit of Queensland and there is a factsheet. The Tilt Train from Brisbane to Rockhampton has similar facilities.Other trains have narrow doors and aisles which makes access difficult. There is no information about toilets on these trains. It will be a great day when all rolling stock is inclusive.
Editor’s note: I found it difficult to navigate the website to find the relevant information for this post.
It’s one thing to create accessible, universally designed places and spaces, it is another to let people know they exist. Being physically accessible is not enough. People who need access information require detail – and they need to be able to find that detail. The tourism industry is gradually realising this, but restaurants and entertainment venues have yet to catch up. A recent studyexamined publicly available access information and found that it varied considerably across the board. In many cases information was provided but its accuracy was not necessarily correct or complete.
The title of the article is, “Publicly-Researchable Accessibility Information: Problems, Prospects and Recommendations for Inclusion”.
Abstract: Despite worldwide attempts to improve accessibility for consumers with disabilities, barriers still exist that exclude persons from consumer participation in daily life. Although legislation and lawsuits have addressed this issue, marketplaces designed for able-bodied persons are commonplace with minimal accessibility standards tied to costs rather than the needs of this overlooked group. The present article examines a seemingly obvious, but understudied aspect of inclusion: the provision of publicly-researchable accessibility information. Ironically, businesses and public venues may create accessible spaces, yet fail to provide the level of detail needed by consumers with disabilities when planning a shopping excursion, dinner and entertainment, or travel and overnight stays. That is, the provision of factual accessibility content has lagged and is not required by law. This article reports on an exploratory study in the United States that examined the accuracy and completeness of publicly-researchable accessibility information for restaurant and entertainment venues in a large metropolitan area in the Northeastern United States. Observations were gathered from websites and social media of specific venues, as well as travel rating services like TripAdvisor. Findings were mixed. While some venues provided full and factual accessibility information, others revealed just the opposite both in online and follow-up telephone interviews. Implications are discussed along with recommendations for future study.
Austrade commissioned a report into accessible tourism in Victoria and Queensland. Once again we are given the economics and the size of the tourism market. It shows Australia is missing out on both international and national tourism opportunities. Clearly economics and legal obligations aren’t sufficient to change the attitudes of tourism operators, otherwise change would have happened by now. There is much information in this document for anyone who wants to include this sector of the market in their operations. Many forget inclusive travel includes companions and family members. Nevertheless, one hotel, or one attraction alone is not enough. It needs a community-wide approach where operators of venues, accommodation, attractions and destinations work together. Having an accessible room is of no use unless there are accessible places to go to. An article in the West Australian provides an overviewof the situation using the content of the report.
The current issue of Designs 4 Living has two articles relevant to universal design. The first on page 9 is about creating level access to a home using landscaped design solutions. The second is about sea cruising with a mobility device – page 12. Other articles are aimed at the American market and relate more to assistive technology and specialised designs. Worth a look. The magazine is published onlineon Flipsnack. Not sure how accessible this format is.
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. Chris Veitch, who helped devise the guides will be talking about these at the upcoming Universal Design Conference along with Bill Forrester. People with disability and older people rarely travel alone – at least no more than the general population. So it is not just one person avoiding inaccessible places – it can be a whole family or travel group.
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.