Buildings from previous centuries didn’t consider access and inclusion, so the two don’t 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. These places aren’t necessarily historic, but add to the overall visitor experience. The guide can be downloaded in sections.
Historic landscapes, gardens and open spaces are there for everyone to enjoy. Historic England has produced a guide for anyone working to open up historic sites to a wider audience. This edition promotes an inclusive approach to ensure that every visitor to an historic park, garden or landscape has a meaningful experience – not just physical access.
Property owners and managers designers, and planners should find the guide helpful in tackling all aspects of the visitor experience. The key elements of the Easy Access to Historic Landscapes guide are:
Why access matters
Planning better access
Making access a reality
Published sources of information
Where to get advice
Access to hotels for people with hearing loss
One of the first things hotels can do is ensure room TVs have subtitles/captioning and a remote that activates it. Many streaming services that hotels offer have captioning and a TV without access to this function is very frustrating.
The Inclusive Hotels Network in the UK has a guide for hotels for people with hearing loss. It covers the built environment, technology and management of services. The customer profile section is also useful with some facts and figures about travellers and visitors. Degree of hearing loss varies greatly from difficulty with speech discrimination through to total deafness. So there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Who is the customer of inclusive tourism? Everyone! This is the introduction to the visits4u Access Guide for tourism operators. The Guide is from Europe. It has a project guide and a short online training course. The good part of this training course is that it comes in text and audio voice-over. A PDF transcription for each module is available for download. The visits4U inclusive tourism training modules are:
Hotels and Accommodation Providers, 15 minute video.
D/deaf Awareness, 12 minute video.
Information and Wayfinding, 12 minute video.
While the current pandemic conditions prevail, this is a good time to refresh tourism businesses to make them more inclusive. After all, people often travel in groups and if it’s inaccessible for one, the whole group goes elsewhere.
The European Concept for Accessibility Networktourist guide is 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 in the EU tourist guide 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. Featured is the accessibility of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore precincts, Sydney Opera House, and Darling Harbour.
In the introduction it encourages a business approach rather than a compliance approach. In the past, it was expected that a person would give up their personal goals when it looked too difficult to be inclusive and accessible. But now, we have the technical and organisational means to overcome many barriers. Non-discrimination laws have helped people gain more freedom.
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. So what customers talk about when they share their tourist activities is important information. But what do they talk about and how can destination businesses listen to this information?
A study published in Current Issues in Tourismlooks at customer to customer (C2C) co-creation of inclusive tourism. The study was carried out in a heritage context. The perceptions of customers with disability were interviewed and observed. The aim was to identify what was of value in terms of inclusion or exclusion. The bottom line, as is almost always the case, is to involve users in designing the visitor experience. It’s a basic tenet of universal design.
The title of the paper is, C2C co-creation of inclusive tourism experiences for customers with disability in a shared heritage context experience. You can ask the authors for a copy on ResearchGate. If you have institutional access, it is available online from Taylor & Francis.
Abstract:This study explores customer-to-customer (C2C) social co-creation practices in tourism when customers with and without disability share a heritage service environment. Despite a growing prevalence of heritage- and disability-related research in the tourism literature, few scholars have examined the phenomena from the emergent customer-dominant logic (CDL) perspective. This study makes empirical use of the perceptions of customers with disabilities (CwD) in a recent process of co-creation of CDL within the context of heritage sites through qualitative ethnographic techniques, interviews and observation methods. A sample of 125 individuals with and without disabilities participated in the fieldwork. The objective was to identify C2C social practices that occur among CwD and their related value, leading to either inclusion or exclusion. The results reveal the importance of focusing on C2C co-creation opportunities which create a value outcome. This paper provides heritage managers with clear guidance for creating inclusive and enabling servicescapes.
Promotional material continues to under-represent the diversity of the population. We’ve been so used to seeing white faces in advertisements that to see anything other is a surprise. But is that the response marketing experts want? Then there are the stereotypical images, especially related to older people and people with disability. People with disability also like to travel, often within a family group. So how well are these, and other groups, represented in promotional material?
A recent research project in the US critically assessed promotional materials: brochures, rack cards, websites and online booking platforms. They found that fifty per cent mentioned disability in some form. This included “disabled” and “handicapped”, “wheelchair” and “special needs”. They found that outdated language remained the norm. Indeed, some language was considered harmful for people with disability.
The article covers some important ground in the area of inclusive tourism. Promotional material gives an impression of a destination or venue. Visual and textural representations were either absent or stereotypical. Industry as a whole has been slow to respond to what is estimated to be 25% of the prospective market. Their promotional material reinforces their lack of interest in this market.
Globally, over one billion people experience some form of disability. The number of people with disabilities (PWDs) continues to rise due to an ageing population, the spread of chronic diseases, and improvements in measuring disabilities. However, tourism promotional materials continue to perpetuate a homogenous gaze catering to non-disabled audiences. Thus, informed by critical disability theory, and an inclusive tourism approach, this study explores how PWDs are represented in tourism promotional materials, specifically tourism brochures, from the American Southeast. Through a content analysis of over 200 county level brochures from nine south eastern states and interviews with state level tourism marketing directors, three emergent themes were identified: ADA compliant is ‘good enough’; ‘Diversity’ means including more people of color or ‘ethnic’ groups; and Pets are welcomed but how about PWDs? The findings offer insights for inclusive tourism and breaking down the physical and psychological barriers that hinder PWD participation in travel and tourism.
Lake Macquarie City Council is taking accessible holiday accommodation seriously. Last year they began a project to install four accessible cabins in their holiday parks. Council tested the market for the new design and the feedback was integrated into the design. Some of the elements that were considered important, especially for wheelchair users and their families were:
With borders opening up and people anxious for a get-away, the tourism industry is set for a boost. However, not everyone will be able to take advantage of new-found freedoms. With no international tourists likely for a while, tourism operators need to make the most of the local market. That means being more accessible and inclusive.
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.
There’s a growing realisation that accessibility does not equal inclusion. Getting in and out of somewhere is only the beginning. Being able to participate on an equal basis requires inclusive thinking and design. This includes the tourism sector. Being accessible is not the same as being inclusive.
Martin Heng, formerly of Lonely Planet, has an article in New Mobility that addresses this issue from a tourism perspective. He argues that the term “Accessible Tourism” is unhelpful. It has helped identify a market segment in economic terms, and some operators are on board. But it only goes so far. Change is slow and piecemeal.
Heng’s article is titled, “It’s Time to Move Beyond Access to Inclusion“. He concludes his article by saying we need to go beyond market segment ideas. We need to encourage the tourism industry to adopt an inclusive mindset.
Language and labelling is important. Choosing the right terms can make a big difference. “Accessible” is strongly linked with disability – particularly wheelchair users. “Inclusive” makes us think more broadly – families, people from diverse backgrounds, children and older people.
Listed as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Melbourne is now aiming to be the most visitable. Visit Victoria and Destination Melbourne have produced resources for both business and visitors. For businesses yet to get on board with being visitable, the individual visitor pages serve as examples of what to look for and what actions to take. Accessible Tourism – it’s your business resource kit has six short chapters with case studies:
Discover what you are missing Explore your local area Make low cost changes Assess your building a facilities Describe your business Promote your business Develop a business plan
The PDF version of the kit with graphics has not thought about accessibility of the document in terms of font contrast. However, the Word version addresses this and also reminds us that not all people can access a PDF document.
The Word version cuts out all the graphics and is not only more accessible for screen readers, it is also a better version for printing pages for checklists.
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.
The tourism sector continues to follow the medical model of disability where it’s the fault of the individual’s body rather than the design of the world around them. This approach affects the language used in promotional material. It also reinforces the mistaken idea that accessible “products” need to be special and separate. Stefania Gandin’s article looks at the language used in the tourism sector and the way tourism and travel is promoted. Understanding the social model of disability could help operators understand it is more than just catering to a particular physical condition. It is a matter of thinking of disability as a human characteristic and not being afraid to talk about it in promotional material and websites. Or, of developing only specialised disability-specific products as being “accessible tourism”. The underpinning principle of inclusive tourism is being able to independently enjoy holiday or leisure time without any barriers or problems. The move from the terminology of “accessible” tourism to “inclusive” tourism could also help.
There will always be a need for specialist tourism products, particularly for people with physical disabilities who want adventure activities. But this does not take account of everyone, including people with health conditions who want to travel in groups. After all, many disabilities are invisible.
Abstract: This study illustrates the preliminary results of a corpus-based analysis aimed at discovering the main linguistic features characterising the promotion of tourism for special-needs travellers. Even if accessible tourism represents an important sector in the market, not only for its social and moral importance but also for its strong economic potential, detailed research on the linguistic properties of tourism for disabled people is still rather limited and mainly tends to focus on the problems of physical access rather than considering the ways to improve its promotional strategies. Through a comparative corpus-based analysis, this paper will investigate the relevant linguistic features of a corpus of promotional materials advertising holidays and tourist services for the disabled, and relate them to the communicative strategies of two other corpora dedicated to the standard and translational language of tourism. The aim of this research is to show how mainstream tourism discourse still considers disability as a taboo topic, mostly ignoring or vaguely mentioning it in the general promotion of tourist destinations. The study will also attempt to suggest new linguistic and social attitudes aimed at stylistically improving and further including the accessible tourism sector within the overall tourism promotion.