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News and views about  tourism, travel, and leisure that is accessible to people with disabilities, seniors, and Baby Boomers who will experience increasing disability as they age.

Blog by Sandra Rhodda, Director, Access Tourism New Zealand

Views are strictly my own

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Science Museum London tips for improving access

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Science Museum London website banner showing exhibition

Writing recently on Scope, The Science Museum of London’s  Special Event Developers, Claire Hazell, shared some tips on how the Museum achieved recently being named as one of the top 20 most accessible tourist attractions in Britain.    As Special Events Developer, Hazell and her team write, develop and present a large programme of events aimed at families during holidays and weekends, and run a variety of events aimed at making the Science Museum accessible to everyone.   Regarding accessibility, the main points Hazell shared on Scope are:

1) There is a big difference between accessible and inclusive.  For example, the Museum’s  science shows, storytelling sessions and workshops are all presented in British Sign Language and are suitable for both deaf and hearing visitors.

2) Accessible means different things to different people. Making the museum accessible can mean different things for everyone. It could just mean giving someone a map so they can find their way around but it could also mean coming to an event which has provision for their needs. 3) Don’t make assumptions

3) Don’t make assumptions.  The Museum never assumes anything and makes sure it looks at developments from every angle and assumes nothing.

4) You can’t do it alone.  If you don’t know much about what an event will need, ask people that would know.   Information from other people/groups is invaluable and will help a team provide a new event that is open to even more people.

5) Taking the first step is hard but the rewards are worth it.  It is always an amazing accomplishment to open the door for an event for the first time and see the smiles on the faces of families and children.

Find out more about The Science Museum and accessibility at the Museum.  Follow on Twitter: @sciencemuseum @Claire86Hazell @scope

VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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VisitEngland photo of a wheelie and a pushchair user in a souvenir shop

VisitEngland is that country’s national tourist board. Its role is to grow the value of tourism by working in partnership with the industry to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy for the industry and visitors. The organisation’s work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights.  VisitEngland has for a number of years been at the forefront of developing accessible tourism for people with disabilities and others who need better access to tourism, travel, and hospitality.  It has carried out a number of initiatives in this area (search here), and annually gives an “Access For All” award at its Visit England Awards for Excellence” celebrations.   Recently, VisitEngland received funding from the European Commission to develop accessible tourism, and is currently part way through an “Access for All” project, developing and promoting 7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.

This year – as part of English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March), VisitEngland will be holding a conference on achieving access for all in tourism venues.   Unlocking the Purple Pound will be held in partnership with Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool on Wednesday 18th March.  Sandcastle won the 2013 Gold Award for accessible tourism.   The  free event will help business owners and managers improve their facilities and services for disabled people and those with other accessibility needs – a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry.

With more than 1 in 6  visitors to England likely to have an impairment and a massive 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55+ age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling.

Sponsored by Aveso, the programme is packed full of practical tips and expert insights, including an Access Statement workshop, top tips for accessible marketing and tailored sessions for attraction and accommodation businesses.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

Visiting Barcelona with a disability

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Guest post: Since Mirjam Stibbe moved to Barcelona in 2005, she has seen more and more people visit the Mediterranean city.  Because a family member from The Netherlands with MS wanted to visit Stibbe, she began to look for appropriate accommodation for her.  Here she describes how this compelled her to start Barcelona-Enabled.

Barcelona Enabled tour group

I understand perfectly what the attraction of Barcelona is: the sea and beaches, delicious food, amazing architecture, vibrant cultural life, football, laid back atmosphere. Do you want me to go on? Working in tourism, I saw that Barcelona provides many possibilities to its visitors. There are great places to stay and there is so much to do and its so easy to get around in this small big city.

However, it is not always obvious to everyone how the city is very welcoming to people with access needs.    To organize your trip when you are physical impaired in a strange country is a challenge. You would like to make sure that you have your accessible needs covered. This is harder than it seems. Make some calls to some hotels and you will be told that the hotel has wheelchair accessible rooms. The hotel is obligated by law to have this, so another answer is unlikely.  But how unfortunate is it, when you arrive at your accommodation and there are 3 steps to get into the lobby, the lift is too small to fit your wheelchair, or the adaptations to the room is a lowered bathtub.

Coming from grey, cold Holland, my family loves to visit me in Barcelona. One family member has MS so I looked for appropriate accommodations.   This was harder than expected. I found very few places that had the minimal adaptations that were required.   And if you’re looking for a roll-in shower with a seat, sufficient space around your bed to turn your wheelchair or put a hoist, I was left with very few options.

This was the start of the initiative of Barcelona-Enabled, a service for the mobility impaired that want to enjoy a carefree holiday in the city.   I started making a selection of accommodation that are perfectly adapted and established good relationships with them so my clients would always get an excellent service. I also started organizing airport transport with wheelchair accessible vehicles with reliable providers. Barcelona-Enabled also offer mobility equipment (hoist, electric bed, shower chair, mobility scooter etc.), sightseeing tours in and around the city, and advice about how to enjoy stays.

When basic requirements such as these are met, people find that Barcelona is such an amazing easy city for wheelchair users. Most of the public transport is accessible, museums have great access and in summer there is a Red Cross service at the beach that helps people get into the water. Most sidewalks have lowered curbs, and adapted bathrooms can be found in the many bars in the city.

Stibbe can be contacted at Barcelona-Enabled: +34 68 505 2628; Follow on Twitter: @Benabled; eMail:  mirjam@barcelona-enabled.com;  www.barcelona-enabled.com

New UNWTO manual: Accessible Tourism for All

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UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All Front Cover

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Public-Private Alliances and Good Practices has just been published.  It is the first publication of a technical nature produced by the UNWTO in collaboration with the Spanish ACS Foundation. The Manual highlights the value of accessible heritage and cultural resources and provides the necessary technical knowledge for making built and natural tourism environments accessible within the framework of public-private alliances.

The 284-page manual covers such aspects as an overview of Tourism for All (TfA), public-private partnerships, an analysis of good practice, accessibility in architectural heritage, historic and tourist cities in Spain, access in historic European city centres, parks, and gardens, access in natural surroundings and transport, training, sports activities, and accessibility and international cooperation.   The manual has an extensive list of references and links to accessibility information.

The report points out that people with disabilities make up a significant part of the world’s population, and that their number is on the rise due to the ageing trend being observed in certain regions, because disability increases with age.  The report goes on to say that The World Health Organization estimated that in 2011, there were approximately one billion people with disabilities in the world, that is, 15% of the total population.  They also constitute an emerging segment in terms of tourism demand. There is wide consensus that this demand is growing and is multi-customer, since each person with disability tends to be accompanied.  The disabilities market is also an image-booster for a destination, could help solve issues of seasonality – especially with regard to beach tourism, and is capable of generating higher income than the average for conventional tourism.

The ACS Foundation is a private non-profit institution with a mandate to act as the channel for all social action undertaken by the business corporation Grupo ACS. It enters into agreements with Spanish and international institutions to launch and support projects and training and also research activities related to the restoration of historic heritage, environmental conservation and the removal of barriers to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities or in a situation of dependence, and tourism for all.

Source: World Tourism Organization and Fundación ACS (2015).  Manual on Accessible Tourism for All – Public-Private Partnerships and Good Practices, UNWTO, Madrid.    http://www.e-unwto.org/content/j875u2/fulltext.pdf  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub

Improving access for visitors and locals in York UK

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 York Minster

The UK City of York Council’s Disability Access Scrutiny Task Group  – chaired by Councillor Julie Gunnell – is encouraging Make it York (the council’s new tourism and culture body), to make full disabled access “one of their major aspirations for the city”.   The Group has met with DisabledGo, a website which provides a guide on disability access at venues, and has produced a list of recommendations designed to remove barriers for people struggling to access heritage sites, museums and galleries.   York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historic cities, with a mixture of Medieval, Georgian, Victorian, and modern streets and buildings.  Despite the historical nature of York, many buildings and services are accessible to many disabled people. City of York Council, York Tourism and the University of York are happy to sponsor the Disabled Go website to help promote independent living for disabled people in York. The company already provides visitors with extensive facts on 25 York buildings, but now councillors want to work more with venues and DisabledGo which has guides on best practice.

York Minster is already listed on DisabledGo, and has a five star rating for its accessibility.   Recommendations include that live music venues achieve the Live Music Industry’s Charter of Best Practice and that heritage sites sign up to Visit England’s National Code of Visitor Attractions to improve what they offer disabled people.

Follow on Twitter: @MakeItYork @DisabledGo @CityofYork

Scandic Hotels Germany wins accessibility award

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Accessible room Scandic Hotels website

Scandic Hotels Germany (http://www.scandichotels.com/Hotels/Germany/) was recently given a “Golden Wheelchair” award by the non-profit organisation “Independent Living Centre” in Stuttgart (ZSL http://www.zsl-stuttgart.de/english.html). In the category ‘Hotels and Accommodations’ Scandic convinced the jury by its comprehensive and detailed accessibility programme. “Scandic Hotels Germany is glad about this special award,” said Tobias Albert, Director Sales & Marketing Scandic Hamburg Emporio. “It is an acknowledgement of our belief that hotels should be accessible for everyone and our effort to ensure this within our group.” Scandic’s approach to accessibility is based on a 135 point plan developed by Magnus Berglund, the hotel group’s ambassador for accessibility. Since its implementation in 2003, the standard has had a positive impact not only within Scandic, but on the whole travel industry.

Scandic Hotels is a chain with 155 hotels and around 30,000 rooms across Europe. Started in 1963, it has, over the years, increased accessibility in its hotels. It was the first hotel chain to appoint a Director of Accessibility to work on improving accessibility for disabled guests. Now all the hotels have rooms adapted to guests with special needs. Scandic has also improved online information about access at its hotel. Scandic Hotels has won numerous awards for accessibility over the years. For further information, see here, here, and here.

The “Independent Living Centre” (ZSL Stuttgart) is a registered counselling service for people with disabilities by people with disabilities. With the “Golden Wheelchair” it honors outstanding accessibility travel solutions and programmes. The award ceremony takes place during the CMT in Stuttgart (Germany), the world’s greatest public trade fair for tourism and leisure.

Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @Messe_Stuttgart

Canada: New accessibility standard for self-service kiosks in air, ferry and train terminals

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Canadian Flag

From December 31, 2016, any newly installed automated self-service kiosks used for such things as check in, printing of boarding passes and baggage tags at Canadian air, ferry and train terminals should be accessible to travellers with disabilities, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that 25% of kiosks are accessible by December 31, 2022.   This is the expectation of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) recently amended Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities. The standard is harmonized with the new United States Department of Transportation (DOT) rule published late last year, providing greater predictability and consistency across North America for travellers with disabilities.

The standard was developed based on input received during consultations with CTA’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from associations representing the interests of persons with disabilities, major Canadian airlines, passenger railway companies, ferry operators, as well as with air industry stakeholders and the Canadian Airports Council.  A two-year implementation period gives manufacturers time to design, test and produce kiosks which feature updated hardware and software accessibility standards. The standards address issues such as height, position of monitors, touch screen functions, audio accessories, document readers, and warning tones.

The standard applies to the following terminals and carriers:

  • Airports within the National Airports System linking Canada from coast to coast;
  • Canadian air carriers that operate aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats;
  • Rail carriers and terminals serving 10,000 or more passengers yearly; and
  • Ferry operators and terminals in respect of vessels of 1,000 gross tonnes or more between provinces or between Canada and the United States every year.

“Persons with disabilities have a right to access automated self-service kiosks independently, safely and securely,” said Geoff Hare, Chair and CEO of CTA. “Our experience has shown that the Agency’s voluntary standards approach is effective in increasing the accessibility of the federal transportation network for persons with disabilities.”  The CTA will conduct periodic surveys to monitor the progress in implementing the Code.  Reports on the findings of these monitoring surveys will be provided to the Accessibility Advisory Committee.  In addition to these surveys, the Agency will also undertake periodic reviews of the Code. Any problems identified will be presented to the Accessibility Advisory Committee for consultation and any proposed amendments will be distributed to the public for comment.

Independent of this process, the Agency will also continue to exercise its authority to deal with individual complaints to determine whether there are undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities.

Source: CTA website; Accessibility News International.  Follow on Twitter: @CTA_gc  @AcNewsca

VisitEngland continues its “Access For All” project

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Tourist in a wheelchair, and with a suitcase, bank of the Thames, London

A VisitEngland-led “Access for All” project is part-way through developing and promoting  7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.   It is doing this by supporting tourism businesses to improve information, customer service, and facilities for the benefit of people with access needs and by delivering a mainstream national marketing campaign to promote accessible tourism in England.  It will, therefore, increase opportunities for people with access needs to take holidays and inform them of reliably accessible tourism products and services.   Awareness of accessible destinations will be increased improving perceptions of Accessible England and Europe.   A sustainable legacy will be achieved by upskilling and empowering destination organisations  (DOs) to become local champions of long-term accessible tourism development and developing an Accessible Tourism Itinerary Toolkit for other destinations. New partnerships will be forged between key tourism stakeholders and disability stakeholders.

The ‘Access for All’ project is funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission.

VisitEngland’s Destination Partners include Visit Kent and Visit Brighton (coastal), Visit Birmingham and  Visit Lincoln (city), and Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, and Experience Nottinghamshire (countryside).

The work is organised into 4 work packages:

  • WP1 – Designing, including the appointment of Accessibility Experts, introductory workshops for destination organisation partners, and project start up meetings with business partners in each destination.
  • WP2 – Implementation (Access for All Development Process), including inspection of venues, production of improvement plans, staff training, mystery visits, and updating of access information.
  • WP3 – Dissemination, including to people with access needs via a mainstream consumer marketing campaign.  This will involve the production of itinerary guides, campaign creative, and securing advertorial and editorial space in key specialist media channels, dissemination to businesses via B2B communications plan, video case studies and production of ‘Accessible Itineraries Development Toolkit’, dissemination to other EU member states via the web, and social media coverage provided by European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
  • WP4 – Evaluation, including of marketing campaigns against a set of defined measurement vehicles, project monitoring and reporting, and a post-completion project evaluation.

Main Source:  European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/tourism/offer/accessible/index_en.htm.   Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @RossCalladine @EU_growth  @EUaccesstourism #AccessForAll

Basque developing accessible tourism for all

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Flag of the Basque Country

The  Basque Country is a region at the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.  It is currently working to create “Tourism for All in Basque Country“.  This is one of a number of accessible tourism projects funded by the European Commission.  The project involves developing further an already existing accessibility model to include standards for new services and packages in six itineraries in the country.  The undertaking includes consideration of the whole tourism value chain and involves access assessment of each tourism facility, improvement of the skills of tourism providers to cater for people with access needs, creating tourism packages for people with different access needs, and commercialization and promotion of the access offer through standard and also specific channels.

The lead coordinator of the project is the Fundacion Instituto Gerontologico Matia-Ingema, and partners include various tourism bodies within Spain.  Source: European Commission.    Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth @MatiaFundazioa

Seven European countries join forces to develop accessible tourism

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S Notts 2 056Italy, Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark are joining forces to develop nine fully accessible itineraries into comprehensive tourism packages. The project is one of a number in accessible tourism funded by the European Commission.   The transnational initiative – named  Project STRING – will market the packages as single or multiple customer-selected preferred combination. The packages will include choices in historic monuments, religious interest, gastronomy and wine-tasting, arts, shopping and  entertainment, and more.

The project will select existing accessible tourist sites and facilities to form a continuing, well- linked route with rich attractions and tailored services, then promote and market these.    Project STRING aims  to better exploit the experiences and itineraries realized by some of the partners in the  framework of the League of Historical and Accessible Cities (LHAC);  to provide versatile, high-quality and fully accessible tourist products to all kinds of people with access needs;  to present accessible tourist products to the customers through easily-accessible channels and in a flexible, adaptable and thus more attracting way;  to disseminate at a wider level the best practices and know-how in accessible tourism achieved by the partners as well as by other members of the LHAC; and to foster cooperation among SMEs, public administrations, foundations, associations and other stakeholders to improve accessibility and contribute to a better quality of life for all.

The lead partner is CPD – Consulta per le Persone in Difficoltà ONLUS (Italy).

Source: European Commission. Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth  @Turismabile

Boomers “agents of change” in tourism: SMG Consulting

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Boomers and seniors at the Tower of London

SMG Consulting is a Californian company which carries out research and develops strategic plans and tourism marketing programs in tourism, recreation, and hospitality.  They have just released their eight annual SMG Tourism Outlook for 2015.  In it, they describe several agents of change in the industry, including demographics and consumer behaviour (the others are climate, and tourism funding).

The report points out that by 2029, more than 20% of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Although the number of Baby Boomers will decline through mortality, this shift toward an increasingly older population is expected to endure. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years. While Boomers are getting older, they still represent 25% of the U.S. population with the highest disposable income, a significant share of the tourism industry bottom line.The report goes on to say that today’s Baby Boomer is quite different, however, than a decade ago, even a year ago. Following the free spirited lead of their Millennial kids and Gen Xer co-workers, Baby Boomers are mimicking their leisure patterns and pursuit of fun in their older years. The report calls this “Aging Younger”.

Because of this, some traditional pursuits of older generations are in decline.  For example, the report points out that in the USA, golf is on the downswing.   As Baby Boomers age and move on to other passions, Gen Xers and Millennials are not replacing the void. Following suit, Baby Boomers are also spending more of their precious time in a variety of activities such as food pairings and motorcycle touring making them less inclined to play the traditional 18 rounds. A similar situation exists in skiing, that is, as Baby Boomers age and turn to other passions, Generation Xers and Millennials are not replacing the volume or frequency.

Boomers are healthier and wealthier than ever, and more willing to engage in numerous activities. For example, WanderLust, a yoga music foodie festival, and the SnowGlobe music festival, attract both a younger and older audience. Priorities with health, community and ecology, Wanderlust festivals are popping up all over, extending the life of tired destinations and many of their traditional Baby Boomer visitor segments. Remember, Baby Boomers were raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll and self-expression. Baby Boomers who are the parents of Millennials want new experiences too. They like music festivals and yoga, which keep them young, and the destination even younger. Chasing youth is a great revenue generator, especially for mature destinations that desperately need repositioning.

Source: SMG Consulting (http://smgonline.net/).  Follow on Twitter: @SMGtahoe

Lonely Planet: New Accessible Melbourne ebook

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Lonely Planets Accessible Melbourne front cover street scene

Lonely Planet’s new Accessible Melbourne free guide provides travellers with disabilities relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see in that city.  It covers Melbourne’s best wheelchair-friendly restaurants and shops, accessible sports, and scenery, food and wine along the Great Ocean Road. As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience. However, for this pilot project, LP augmented their authors reviews with feedback from users who are people with disabilities, and insider tips from a wide range of travellers to ensure those with mobility, hearing or vision impairment get the most out of a Melbourne holiday.   This is Lonely Planet’s first ebook on accessible travel, and it acknowledges that what is accessible to one may be difficult for another.  The Guide suggests users use the information as a starting point to make their own enquiries for their particular situation.  As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience.

Lonely Planet welcomes feedback on this project.  Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng

Website Accessibility: A New Frontier Of Inclusion

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Chris Lona of CL Design is making the web/digital a better, accessible experience for disabled and ageing people. He hopes to help organizations generate more revenue by being more inclusive of this group pf customers online. In addition, he hopes to help organizations improve compliance with accessibility initiatives and mandates.  In this guest blog, he writes about web access.

Website front page with audio

Turn on your sound and visit http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

Keep your hand down if you’ve ever had a problem accessing a website. After all why make you go through extra effort if you don’t have to… Imagine that the challenges you’ve had accessing websites were compounded by being visually, auditory, physically or cognitively challenged? You would be even more frustrated than you were when you had the original challenges.   If you are a business owner in tourism, travel or hospitality and have gone to great lengths to ensure your destination is accessible, how accessible is your website which is the first impression and gateway to your offerings? If a disabled or older person wants to visit your destination and they cannot access your website, do you think they will book the trip through your company? Does it make sense – since your destination is about a superior, accessible experience – that your site should be as well? Canada, Europe the US and other countries all have legislation, mandates, or initiatives that address the issue of web accessibility.     In 2008 retailer Target had to pay $6 million because their websitewas not accessible. The consensus around a standard for web access generates from the W3C’s WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which has a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility. A nice goal to be sure but the realities and “best practices” involved leave a lot to be desired. What has come out of this as “best practices” is a web where it is completely acceptable to build a website and then find ways to make it accessible with assistive technology mostly for the visually challenged. This main assistive technology for the visually impaired is called a screen reader. It is software that reads the information on a web page aloud in a synthetic computer voice. But this assistive technology presents several access barriers of its own—cost, computer requirements, learning curve, lack of accessible websites and a robotic, synthetic voice. There is a new mandate in the U.S. called the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act: It contains (in short) “ground-breaking protections to enable people with disabilities to access broadband, digital and mobile innovations — a study conducted by the FCC revealed that people with disabilities are less likely to use Internet-based communications technologies”.   For the web this will mean that certain videos will be required to be closed captioned for the auditory challenged.   In terms of any mandates for inclusion of the physically and cognitively challenged when they use the internet, there are vague references to inclusion of a variety of people with differing disabilities. What all of this means for businesses and their commitment to (and compliance with) web accessibility initiatives is a lack of access for them. Where will they turn to make their site be able to be read by a screen reader? How will they find the right resource to make sure their online videos are closed captioned? What resources exist to ensure that the physically and cognitively challenged will also be able to access their online and physical world experience? The fact that they will be forced into providing web access as a piecemeal approach will mean that fewer companies will bother due to the difficulties and expense.   The crux of the issue lies with the fact that “best practices” treat web accessibility as an afterthought rather than as an integrated design. A building is built with accessibility as an integral part of the design. What do you think? Should accessibility for websites be integrated from the ground up to create better online experiences for everyone? Contact: cld@cldesign.co. (Contains audio); www.cldesign.co Visit demo at http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

VisitWales, Welsh tourism embrace Disabled Access Day

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Welsh flag

Visit Wales was one of many tourism organizations around Wales to take part in international Disabled Access Day, a day set aside in January when people with disabilities are encouraged to visit places they have never been before. Disabled Access Day is an international and national campaign to highlight the accessible venues that provide for individuals with any form of disability.   VisitWales said that tourism is an industry that attracts and looks after the needs of all tourists. “ Our objective for the day, with the co-operation of our industry colleagues is to raise awareness of the wide variety of accessible attractions, activities and accommodation establishments that Wales has to offer”, said a VisitWales spokesperson.

In Carmarthenshire, The National Botanical Garden of Wales offered free entry and tours to people with disabilities.  In Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, the Arts Centre also offered free entry, a BSL interpreter, and film screenings.   The Denbighshire County Council offered an obstacle free walk at Loggerheads Country Park and a chidren’s Treasure Hunt.

Tourism operators from across Pembrokeshire County  gathered at Clynfyw Care Farm in Abercych to celebrate ‘Inclusive West Wales’.     It was supported by a number of tourism operators and organisations who carry an accessible ethos, including the National Trust  Stackpole Mencap Gardens, The Harriet Davis Trust, Pembrokeshire People First, Celtic Quest Coasteering and Pembrokeshire Tourism.   Those who attended found it very beneficial by networking with peers and gaining a wealth of knowledge on what is available to the disabled visitor in Pembrokeshire.   Emily Yates, an accessibility consultant and travel writer who has been employed by the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games also attended the event.   She was overwhelmed with the facilities available at Clynfyw Care Farm.   She said: “The thing that really impresses me about Clynfyw is that physical accessibility and community inclusion go hand-in-hand. Not only can visitors stay in a gorgeous cottage to suit all their needs they can also take part in arts and crafts and wheelchair yoga. This inclusion” she added, “is what really creates understanding and brings people together. We need more of it” she said.

Clynyfw has been providing accessible holidays to visitors for more than 30 years and has been recognised for its good practice by winning the Pembrokeshire Tourism Gold Award for Best Access for the Disabled Visitor in 2013.  The manager Jim Bowen said the event was a great success, and that it was a pleasure to see the development of collaborative working amongst some of the leading accessible business in Pembrokeshire.   “It’s hopefully the start of something big for accessible tourism in Pembrokeshire”, said Bowen.

Follow on Twitter: @Access_Day @VisitWalesBiz @EmilyRYates @ClynfywCIC  @nationaltrust @HDavisTrust @pemspeople1st @CQCoasteering @visitpembs  Main source: Disabled Access Day

UNWTO FITUR session on accessible tourism and technology

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Person with a disability using an iPhone image from UNWTO

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has for a number of years supported the facilitation of tourist travel by people  with disabilities as a vital element of any responsible and sustainable tourism development policy.   The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is one of several topics to be addressed at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid January 28-February 1.   FITUR is a global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound Ibero American markets.   It was attended by 9,083 exhibiting companies from 165 countries/ regions, 120,231 trade participants and 97,549 people from the general public in 2014.  Also present were 7,368 journalists from 60 countries, a turnout that demonstrates the importance of FITUR on the international circuit of tourism sector events.

The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is a session at FITUR organized by UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and PREDIF (Plataforma Representativa Estatal de Personas con Discapacidad Física) in collaboration with IFEMA and Vodafone España.  It will highlight good practices in the development and use of new technologies in the fields of travel, tourism and leisure. It will also address the major challenges for generalizing the use of these technologies in the various links of the accessibility chain in tourism.  New technologies can contribute to making the tourism experience more accessible and rewarding for everyone, including seniors, persons with disabilities and others with reduced mobility.   During the session, there will be a presentation of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All (UNWTO/ONCE Foundation/ENAT) by Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager, Ethics & Social Responsibility, UNWTO.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE @feriafitur @Predif_Estatal #FITUR2015

British Government bid to improve disabled access at sports stadiums

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Football goalie image in public domainThe UK government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain in what it hopes will be the largest ever survey of its kind.   Ministers are hoping thousands of Britain’s 12 million disabled people will give their views on everything from wheelchair access and disabled parking to accessible toilets, hearing loops and treatment by other supporters at live sporting fixtures. Organisers want to hear from fans of all sports – and in particular rugby, cricket, football, hockey, basketball, cycling and motor-racing.

“We know that lots of clubs, like Arsenal, are making improvements but more can still be done across sport to make stadiums more accessible and the match-day experience better for disabled fans” said Minister for Sport Helen Grant.  “This is what this survey is all about – giving disabled sports fans the chance to air their views so that we can help make watching live sport fantastic for them.”  Grant went on to say that the Commonwealth Games last year showed what is possible and how sport can cater brilliantly for disabled fans.  “I am confident that sports governing bodies will step up and deliver on this”, said Grant.

The survey can be done here: http://survey.dwp.gov.uk/index.php?sid=18657. Follow on Twitter: @dwppressoffice

UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices

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Sams Tower 156

The Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices (in Spanish), is UNWTO’s second publication on universal accessibility and has been co-produced with the Spanish ONCE Foundation for social inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Network for Accessible Tourism – ENAT.  The manual will be key to the international community in understanding the chain of accessibility in tourism, the economic impact of Accessible Tourism, and steps that can be taken to create accessible destinations according to the principles of Design for All.    The manual provides a framework of interventions, tools and resources in service delivery and management of Accessible Tourism. Through these instruments, UNWTO aims to encourage stakeholders in the sector to implement measures to increase greater participation of different population groups in tourism, including people with disabilities and others.

The publication is divided into five distinct modules that respond to major accessibility issues in tourism: general context, recommendations main intervention areas, indicators for national tourism administrations and good international practices.  It is Module I – the first part of the Manual to be published – and will be followed by 4 remaining technical modules targeting various tourism stakeholders.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE

Germany continues work to broaden and promote accessible tourism

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Accessible Tourism in Germany covers of two brochures from press release (2)

Germany: The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs promotes the further expansion of accessible tourism in Germany.  Their project “Tourism for All” was awarded the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e.V. in December.  With this project, the tourism industry can better adapt to the rapidly growing number of people needing better access, such as seniors, people with disabilities, or families with prams and luggage.   The main objective of the project is to introduce a nationwide uniform labelling system “Travel for All” in the next three years.   In future, all travellers, including those needing better access, can get reliable information about the tourist service provider and can use it for their travel decision.   To this end, there is a comprehensive database on the German National Tourist Board website (DZT) as well as on those of state marketing organizations.  Businesses along the entire service chain are recognized by Germany-wide criteria, rated, and certified.   In addition, providers receive access training.

The label “Tourism for All” has been developed over several years with the input and cooperation of  numerous organizations, the tourist associations state marketing organizations, and other stakeholders as part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics (2011-2014). There are already 10 states, a few regions,  and a hotel corporation on the system. Nearly 400 businesses were inspected using an extensive catalogue of criteria.   Support for Project V. is the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in cooperation with the Association for Tourism All Germany e. (NatKo).    For information on the project and the labelling system “Travel for All”, see www.reisen-fuer-alle.de.

Tourismus für Alle – ein Zukunftsmarkt

Das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium fördert den weiteren Ausbau des barrierefreien Tourismus in Deutschland – für das Projekt „Reisen für Alle“ erhielt das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. im Dezember den Zuwendungsbescheid. Mit dem Projekt soll sich die Tourismusbranche besser auf die stark wachsende Gruppe älterer, aktivitäts- und mobilitätseingeschränkter Menschen einstellen.

Hauptziel des Projektes ist, das bundesweit einheitliche Kennzeichnungssystem „Reisen für Alle“ in den nächsten drei Jahren einzuführen. Künftig sollen alle Reisenden, darunter auch Senioren, Menschen mit einer Behinderung oder Familien mit Kinderwagen und Gepäck, verlässliche Informationen über die touristischen Anbieter erhalten und diese für ihre Reiseentscheidung nutzen können. Dafür entsteht eine umfangreiche Datenbank, die im Internet auf den Seiten der Deutschen Zentrale für Tourismus (DZT) sowie den Seiten der Landesmarketing-Organisationen abgerufen werden kann. Betriebe entlang der gesamten touristischen Servicekette werden nach deutschlandweit einheitlichen Kriterien erfasst, bewertet und zertifiziert. Außerdem erhalten die Anbieter Schulungen.

Die Kennzeichnung „Reisen für Alle“ wurde in mehrjähriger Zusammenarbeit und Abstimmung mit zahlreichen Betroffenenverbänden sowie allen touristischen Verbänden, Landesmarketing-Organisationen und weiteren Akteuren im Rahmen eines vom Bundeswirtschaftsministerium geförderten Vorgängerprojektes von 2011 bis 2014 entwickelt. Inzwischen setzen bereits 10 Bundesländer, einige Regionen und auch eine Hotelkooperation das System ein. Knapp 400 Betriebe wurden mit dem umfangreichen Kriterienkatalog geprüft. Es gibt bereits eine Reihe guter Beispiele und Initiativen in verschiedenen Regionen, doch barrierefreie Tourismusangebote sind in Deutschland noch lange nicht flächendeckend zu finden.   Träger des Projekts ist das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in Kooperation mit dem Verein Tourismus für Alle Deutschland e. V. (NatKo).

Aktuelle Informationen zu dem Projekt und Kennzeichnungssystem “Reisen für Alle” finden Sie unter www.reisen-fuer-alle.de

Source: Press release.  Please forgive translation mistakes. Follow on Twitter: @BMWi_Bund

Asia Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism to get country chapters

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Hotel Hallway

The Asia Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism (APNAT) will soon see the establishment of country chapters, which would help champion barrier-free travel for all people with disabilities in the region.  This move was agreed upon at the recently concluded 5th International Conference on Accessible Tourism.  APNAT itself was formed after recommendations from participants who attended the first South-east Asia Conference on Accessible Tourism in 2012 (SEACAT).   Sia Siew Chin, protem committee chairman of APNAT, said: “Through APNAT, we would like to be able to reach out to governments, people in the tourism industry and service providers to provide for the access needs of everyone in society, in particular people with disabilities.”   Saowalak Thongkuay, regional coordinator for Abilis Foundation Mekong, said: “APNAT gives us a strong and collective voice to negotiate with governments to include accessible tourism into their development agenda.

It is hoped that all links in the tourism chain will become accessible.  Speaking at the conference,  Annagrazia Laura, president of European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), stressed that providing barrier-free environment means that from arrival to departure, visitors must be guaranteed an unbroken and seamless chain of accessibility.  “If just one link in the chain is broken, such as inaccessible monuments and tourist attractions, the holiday experience will be spoilt” said Laura.

Joseph Kwan, chair, International Commission on Technology & Accessibility, Rehabilitation International also attended the conference.  “Once governments realise that people with disabilities and the senior market are a sizable population with disposable incomes to spend and can contribute significantly to foreign exchange earnings, employment generation and social inclusion, they will be more willing to act, to create barrier-free travel for all” said Kwan.   Kwan stressed the importance of governments to do audits on the current status of tourism accessibility in order to develop policies and plans regarding accessibility and human rights.

Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

NZ: Whangarei Council improves access information about festival events

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Endless Summer Festival booklet image from Facebook page

Endless Summer Festival booklets

Whangarei is a district north of Auckland, New Zealand.   Whangarei’s Endless Summer Festival offers 109 great events listed in the Endless Summer Festival booklet, out now and available from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub and the Isite.    “Happening across the Whangarei District from January – Easter, and with some of the events being held on multiple days, this equates to 439 days of events in Whangarei over summer!,” said Venues and Events  Whangarei Marketing and Events Manager Rachel O’Gorman.  “Not only do we have more events, but this year a real effort has been made for as many events as possible to be accessible to everyone. Last year I attended a Whangarei District Council Disability Advisory Group meeting to find out how we can better assist the sector when it comes to events and providing information about them.  The group said providing accessibility information when an event was being publicised meant people could see what facilities would be available, rather than taking a chance, turning up and being disappointed. Knowing about accessibility in advance would be likely to encourage a greater range of people to select events they would really enjoy,” said O’Gorman.

“This year as part of the event registration process, event organisers were required to answer a few accessibility questions around whether their events have a designated viewing area, disabled car parks, wheelchair access, disabled toilets and sign language interpreters.  There is a key at the front of the booklet and every event has the symbols to show whether or not the event has the accessible facilities. The information is also highlighted in each event on Facebook, Eventfinda and on our website. One of the events in the Endless Summer Festival has a sign language interpreter and we will work with the Deaf community and event organisers to see this increase over time. We have already booked one for the Christmas Festival 2015.”

Events include the Highland Games, Ruakaka Races, The Bridge to Basin series, Water Slide mania at the town basin, Art beat, Blues v Chiefs, Beach to Basin, Kids Triathlon, the White Plate dinner, Snorkling and Kayaking days, The Fritter Festival, Opera in the Garden, lots of art exhibitions.   Easter events includ the Waipu Easter Carnival, The Whangarei Head Arts Trail, Steampunk Sunday, Uku North Exhibition and Festival of Fibre.

To find out about access at events, go to the Venues and Events Whangarei website and information is given on the page for each event.  Booklets with the same information are available in the district from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub or the Isite.  Events can be followed on the Endless Summer Festival Facebook page  Source: Press release; Pers Comm.  Follow on Twitter: @WhangareiDC