Mapping Access: People and Place

picture of a Google map with icons for parking and transportCreating access maps using data collected from individuals is part of a Google Maps project. But there is more to this than just knowing how to get from one place to another when you are a wheelchair user. What does it say about architecture and how we value citizens? Codes for architectural compliance do not include the human perspective of how people actually use places and spaces and relate to each other. 

Example of a step-free transport map

Bottom right hand corner of the tube map showing the legend of all the different level of accessThis isn’t something from Transport for London, it’s from a blog site, Step Free London. It shows what can be done with transport maps when users know that attention to detail is everything. The personal experience sets it apart from other maps. An access icon can mean so many things, and this is shown in the legend of the map. For example it could be either: Full step-free access; Step-free access via ramp; Step-free access towards one direction; Out-of-station interchange; and Separate entrance for each direction, plus other combinations of partial access.

The blog site has good information for map designers. It also contains all the latest information about travelling by train in London. There are similar maps available in Australia, such as City of Sydney accessibility map. The Citymetric site shows two tube maps for Paris – one for the general public and another with all the stations taken out that are not accessible. Then you see what a map really looks like to a wheelchair user or pram pusher for that matter. 

England and Scotland Guidebooks for the accessible way

A street scene. Cobbled roadway between five and six storey heritage buildings with Scottish flags flyingMany places in the U.K. offer accessible features for guests with disability. But 63 percent don’t promote the fact according to Bill Forrester in his TravAbility newsletterVisitEngland and VisitScotland have launched a website for tourism businesses to produce accessibility guides to help overcome this problem. 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.

There’s good advice in Destinations for All: A guide to creating accessible destinationsIncluded 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. 

Tourism operators can use the new, free website,, to produce and publish their accessibility guides. These guides should also be useful for Australian tourism operators as well. 

Comprehensive Universal Design

Indian hotel swimming pool at sunset.Comprehensive Universal Design is a concept from India. It refers to the classic principles of universal design, concepts of sustainability, and culture. It takes a “country-centric approach which considers poverty, caste, class, religion, background both rural and urban”. Weaving in cultural aspects such as poverty and religion takes universal design thinking another inclusive step forward. 

A Conceptual Framework for Barrier Free Hotels in Smart Cities covers most of the basics written in many other papers about universal design. It links it to the hotel and tourism industry and all the economic benefits that can bring. The article proposes a conceptual framework to explain.

Abstract: Cities are key for business, Job creation, and the growth of society. The Government of India planned to develop smart cities which are sustainable, inclusive and act as a reference for other aspiring cities. Smart cities in India will work on four principles such as wellbeing of habitants, equity, foresight and efficiency. Existing laws and design principles can act as a hurdle in achieving the four principles laid down. The principles of Universal Design (UD) are user centric, work on the social goals of inclusion, equality and independence. Universal Design India Principle (UDIP) is a set of design principles that focus on a country centric approach which considers culture, caste, poverty, class, and religion. There is an overwhelming need for environmentally sustainable designs for hospitality services. Considering the current requirements, a conceptual framework ‘Comprehensive Universal Design (CUD)’ has been proposed which includes principles of UD, UDIP and environmental sustainability. Adopting comprehensive universal design principles in the hotels in smart city will help the planners to realise equity, quality of life, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

The article is by Partho Pratim Sea*P. Senthil Kumaran

Barriers to travel not the same for everyone

People are carrying heavy luggage up 56 steps at a train station. A platform lift remains folded at the bottom of the steps.The latest article on inclusive travel by Bob McKercher and Simon Darcy presents a range of barriers affecting the ability of people with disability to travel. It is classified into a four tier framework from generic to specific. Below is an excerpt from the abstract explaining more about the four tier framework:

“Previous studies tended to aggregate barriers into a single group … The failure to recognise the complex, yet subtle interplay between tourism and different types of barriers results in the tendency to see people with disabilities as a homogeneous group where a one size fits all solution applies. In reality, they are a heterogeneous cohort who face the same types of barriers as everyone, some barriers that are common to all people with disabilities, those that are unique to each disability dimension and specific impairment effects that are individualistic.

The full title of the article is “Re-conceptualizing barriers to travel by people with disabilities”, and is available from Science Direct, or directly from Simon Darcy on Research Gate.  Published in Tourism Management Perspectives.   

Accessibility Toolbar