Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand

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Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand came about when three motivated women joined forces with their own funds to build a better accessible world for tourism in New Zealand.   They told Access Tourism New Zealand: “We saw a need and wanted to make a difference”   In this guest article, Kimberly Graham and Maddy Widdowson write about setting up this service.

Wheelchair waiting to be loaded onto a plane

 

Kimberly Graham writes: –

“Our family loves to travel and see new places. I worked for years in front-line tourism in New Zealand’s South Island before moving north to Auckland to start my family. My first child Finlay, who is now 11, was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Travelling and visiting family in the South Island was becoming harder to achieve and needed a lot of planning. Our biggest hurdle was suitable accommodation, equipment hire and adaptive transport. Within closed groups on social media it soon became evident we weren’t alone with these frustrations. That is where my vision for a ‘one-stop shop’ travels resource for people with access needs started. There was an obvious need and no one was doing it in New Zealand”

Oyster Accessible Travel started to take form when Jill Goddard (Kim’s cousin) introduced Kim to her friend Maddy Widdowson.

Maddy Widdowson writes: –

“Last year I finished my career as an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and decided to set off on a 6 month trip to Europe with my husband. Just before leaving my friend Jill called and wanted to introduce me to her cousin Kim. She apparently had an idea that Jill thought I might like to be a part of. I became instantly drawn in to her vision of a much needed travel resource for people with access needs. I saw everything I love doing sitting in front of me – making a difference, research, project planning and New Zealand, the country I adopted 15 years ago. The three of us collaborated and with limited funds we built on the vision that it is Oyster Accessible Travel today”

Getting down to business and formulating the Oyster Plan!

We intend New Zealand to become the ‘Pearl in the Oyster’ for accessible travel.

The key was to provide a resource that provided everything the user needed at their fingertips. We didn’t want to be a website full of links to other sites. We want our users to find the information they need in one place.

It was also important we created an interactive website that talked and discussed access needs regularly with its users. Everyone’s access needs are different and having a diverse sector of community to cater for was going to be the challenge. We knew feedback and a review system played an essential part for the site. Detailed descriptions backed up by photographs a must. Our mission is to encourage people to travel more by making the planning stage easier and giving them the assurance they needed.

Another key element to our website is the ability to BOOK the access room in a selected accommodation! Access rooms are generally not advertised for whatever reason the provider has. This means, as a guest with access needs you are never quite sure whether your comments are read or your call is properly logged and processed.

Oyster was launched on 1st March 2016 and it is now packed with information!

Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand provides a comprehensive booking site and travel guide for both domestic and international travellers who travel with extra mobility needs. It covers the following categories: –

* Accessible Accommodation

* ‘Things to do’

* Accessible Walks

* Transport

* Adaptive Equipment Hire

* Downloadable Maps and Brochures on access facilities

* Interactive Blog, Review System and Newsletter

* And lots more!

Oyster NZ encourages positive travel information, products and experiences. It welcomes feedback to build an essential window into New Zealand’s accessible world.

Oyster’s future plans!

Our vision is big!

* We intend to visit all listed accommodation to provide verification that the information stated by the business is correct. In doing this we will be able spread the knowledge of what true access means for people with extra mobility needs.

* We will have all our regions covered with detailed accessibility descriptions and photographs where possible.

* We will continue to encourage feedback, discussion and hope that our review system will become utilised by everyone.

* We will be working in collaboration  with other disability and tourism organisations to make New Zealand the number one accessible destination of the world!

* We will customise packages for the access tourist who requires that little bit more!

Social change is big at present worldwide and over the last 5 years has been steadily growing in New Zealand. We want to help with that positive change and breakdown the barriers society puts up!

Follow on Twitter: @oyster_nz @Maddy_oysternz @kim4oyster

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UK: South West tourism awards for Access and Inclusivity

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Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.

Congratulations must go to the Roman Baths in Bath and to the Calvert Trust in Exmoor for winning the Gold Award for Access and Inclusivity at the South West Tourism Awards (UK).     The Roman Baths also won the prestigious Winner of Winners award.   The awards were presented at a ceremony at Exeter Cathedral on February 4 (2016).   The Roman Baths is one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK.   Run by the Heritage Services section of Bath & North East Somerset Council, it attracts around one million visitors a year – making it one of the most visited heritage attractions in the United Kingdom.  In 2011 the Roman Baths completed a £5.5 million redevelopment to transform its accessibility, bring the best of modern interpretation to the site, and preserve it for the next 100 years. This is the first phase of an on-going programme of development that will continue over the next seven years.

The Roman Baths were recognised for its efforts to welcome all types of visitors and particular praise was given to the British Sign Language (BSL) trained staff, BSL audio tours, large print leaflets, use of braille on exhibits and online information for people with claustrophobia.   The provision for wheelchair users was also praised, including the availability of wheelchairs for visitors to borrow, lowered ticket office counters and accessible toilets. The assessors also noted the high level of training for all staff.

Bath Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The Roman Baths constantly strives to improve accessibility for all visitors and local people.  “There have been many efforts made to ensure the historic site can be enjoyed by everyone, including staff training, information provision, and improvements to the building, such as the recent addition of new lifts.  We are delighted that these efforts have been recognised with both of these South West Tourism Awards. They are a testament to the fantastic customer service that the staff provides.”

Disabled Holidays: Archery

The Calvert Trust Exmoor runs the only 5 star activity centre in the country, and caters for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and levels of ability, together with their families, friends and carers. Activities on offer include sailing, horse riding, wheelchair abseiling, accessible cycling and archery. Almost 4,000 guests had a residential break with Calvert Trust Exmoor last year.

Tony Potter, Chief Executive of Calvert Trust Exmoor said “This (the award) is fantastic news that rewards all the hard work that the team at Calvert Trust Exmoor consistently put in;  we are so pleased to be recognised for delivering an excellent experience for anyone and everyone,  of any ability or age.”

The Roman Baths and the Calvert Trust have also been shortlisted for the Access for All Tourism Award in Visit England‘s Awards for Excellence, winners for which will be announced on Tuesday, March 8.

Follow on Twitter: @RomanBathsBath @CalvertTrust @VisitEngland @swtourismawards #SWTA

Dubai Forum on Accessible Tourism

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Dubai

In October, The Dubai Inclusive Development Forum took place.  The Forum included international experts in the field of Accessible Tourism, and sessions considered best practices and opportunities for inclusive tourism to thrive, not only in Dubai but across the Gulf region.  Contributors included Dr Ivor Ambrose, consultant and managing director at European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT); Rehabilitation International, New York, secretary general, Venus IIagan; and Victor Calise, commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.  Present where a number of local hotel operators.

The Forum heard that there is a growing population of people with disabilities, believed to be about one billion people worldwide. They are looking to travel, and the onus is on TAs, governments of countries, suppliers and most importantly the hotels, to provide easy accessibility.  Research from VisitEngland notes that accessible tourism in that country accounts for 14% of the overnight hotel occupancy with growth in the value of three time that of tourism in total.

Although the industry is driven by the private sector, governments have a major role in regulating the travel and tourism of a country. “Governments ensure there are laws in place for accessibility. When a place is being built, for example, it needs to be accessible ready. New York had 54 million visitors last year, do we know how many of those were people with disabilities? A lot of surveys and studies need to be done by government, which at this point is not too frequent,” said Calise.

Hotelier Middle East contacted a few hotels to discuss the issue, and operators seem to have geared themselves up to match up to the supply of inclusive tourists. Salalah Rotana Resort general manager Hossam Kamal said: “A number of rooms in the resort have been designed specially to accommodate guests with disabilities and elderly guests. All rooms are located on the ground floor making them easily accessible by wheelchair. Room amenities have been positioned lower for easy reach such as the key card slot, lighting control switches, towel rack, storage cabinets and wardrobe.”    The Ajman Palace Hotel in the United Arab Emirates has a slightly different approach. The hotel goes all out to ensure they pamper their guests, offering them deluxe rooms located near the elevator for easy access.  “We have special Braille telephones with jumbo dial pads, Deafgard vibrator pillow alarms and vibrator room alarms that help guests enjoy a comfortable stay,” said Ferghal Purcell, general manager of the Ajman Palace Hotel.

Illaghan and Calise stressed the importance of adequate training amongst hotel staff to best serve tourists with disabilities. It is evident that hotel operators have sensed the market and are providing adequate facilities for tourists looking to travel.  The Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai for example notifies the staff at Dubai Airport to keep a wheelchair on hand as soon as a relevant booking has been made. The hotel staff is in constant communication with the airport representatives and the latter ensures that the reception and bell boy are geared up to offer dedicated service to the incoming guest.  The hotel’s general manager Simon Moore said “Priority is given for guests with special needs in order to fully satisfy their requirement.”   Dusit Thani Dubai has a well-defined programme in place. Aside from the ‘Disability Awareness Training Programme’ conducted, the hotel has 25 first aiders who are trained for emergency situations.   An Emergency Response Team (ERT) is also in place at the hotel. Front liners are also trained on how to welcome, check-in and out and escort guests who are physically challenged. Guests who require special attention are discussed during daily morning operation briefings and are written on the ERT board, a company spokesperson told Hotelier.

Calise was impressed with Dubai, and the potential and promise that comes with a developing city.  “Dubai has a great opportunity to market Expo 2020 as the first fully accessible World Expo” he said.

Source: Hotelier Middle East.  Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism @ri_global @NYCCalise @NYCDisabilities @VisitEngland @DubaiExpo2020 @HotelierME

Edinburgh sees 2016 conference as a huge opportunity to enhance the city as an accessible destination

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Scotland Edinburgh Castle

Business tourism leaders in Edinburgh have hailed an international event they say will play a crucial role in cementing the city’s reputation as an accessible destination that welcomes disabled and disadvantaged visitors.   Scotland’s capital city has been selected as the host city for the Rehabilitation International 23rd World Congress (R.I. World Congress) in October 2016. The four-day event will bring more than 1,000 delegates to Edinburgh and an estimated economic impact of over £2million.  Jointly led by Convention Edinburgh and host venue, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), the winning bid not only showcased the city’s strong business tourism offering, but ensured the Edinburgh’s accessible credentials were at its core. From Edinburgh’s transport providers and its compact size, to the considered approach to accessibility by the EICC and city businesses, Rehabilitation International leaders agreed Edinburgh was the best fit for its conference and delegates’ needs.

Chris McCoy, who heads up the accessible tourism project at VisitScotland (Scotland’s national tourism organization), said: “VisitScotland has been working to promote accessible tourism in Scotland for some time now [for an example, see here]. There are parts of Scotland that have embraced accessibility and Edinburgh is preparing for a big International Rehabilitation World Congress in October 2016. We are working with tourism businesses throughout the city to produce access statements, which give visitors a full description in words and pictures of the facilities available. The Royal Yacht Britannia and the Royal Botanic Gardens, for example, have produced excellent access statements.   VisitScotland has been working closely with Euan’s Guide for the last year and we are keen to establish such great partnerships with the ultimate aim of an accessible Edinburgh.” Euan’s Guide is a listings and review website that helps disabled people and their families know which venues are truly accessible.

Lesley Williams, head of business tourism, Convention Edinburgh said: “In many ways, the compact size and solid transport connections for Edinburgh make it an incredibly accessible city, a key reason why the RI World Congress, event planners selected the city to host its high profile global conference in October 2016. That said, there is a huge opportunity for more to be done to make Edinburgh, its shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions, more user-friendly for everyone. Next year’s Rehabilitation International World Congress is set to be an incredible catalyst, providing a focus and structured timeline for improving Edinburgh’s accessibility. The coming months will see a solid programme of training workshops and focused collaboration that will raise awareness, provide insights and offer practical assistance for businesses to improve their customer offering. The city is coming together, working with VisitScotland, The Shaw Trust, our members and Euan’s Guide, to create a legacy of improved services and inclusive-customer experience, for all its visitors and residents. This is a legacy we want to live on long after the World Congress comes to an end.”

Joel Charles, a spokesperson for Shaw Trust Scotland, said: “Shaw Trust Scotland is a charity committed to ensuring disabled people can lead independent lives. We are privileged to be hosting the Rehabilitation International World Congress in Edinburgh next year. The World Congress brings together a global network of member countries who work to promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities or health problems. Shaw Trust Scotland is working closely with Edinburgh City Council, Convention Edinburgh, VisitScotland and Transport Scotland to make sure accessibility issues are not a barrier encountered by disabled delegates at next year’s World Congress.”

Source: Conference News.   Follow on Twitter: @ri_global @VisitScotland @conventions @eicc  @ShawTrust

Endeavour Safaris – World Travel Market winner for accessible accommodation

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This year’s World Travel Market (WTM) World Responsible Tourism award for best accessible accommodation has been shared this year by Scandic Hotels and Endeavour Safaris.  Scandic’s win has already been celebrated on this website (here).  WTM – held in London each year on World Responsible Tourism Day – is the largest travel and tourism event in the world. The accessible tourism award is sponsored by Enable Holidays, which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments

Endeavour Safaris is a tour operator based in Northern Botswana, but offering safaris to Namibia, South Africa, Victoria Falls, Mozambique, and elsewhere.   In addition to the journeys they create for all their clients, they have a unique division that specializes in accessible travel for persons with disabilities: including mobility-, visual-, and hearing impairment, as well as persons requiring oxygen or kidney dialysis.   Guests on mobile safaris sleep in specially designed, state of the art, luxury safari tents.  Clients travel to different places throughout the holiday, including remote spots such as the islands of the Okavango Delta where they can camp under the stars after a day on safari. Inclusivity is at the core of Endeavour Safari’s work, taking accessible tourism away from niche to norm and showing that tourism accommodation, even in the wildest of environments, can be enjoyed by nearly all tourists. Access requirements include mobility, visual, hearing, or medical issues. And with inclusivity at the core of what they do, their vision is to also have people with and without disabilities working alongside each other within the business too, particularly with the forthcoming opening of their 100% inclusive Lodge, where integration will be continue to be the inspiring ethos.

Follow on Twitter: @EndeavourSafari @enableholidays @WTM_London @RTAwards

USA: New wheelie travel guide

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Cover of 20 States on Wheels

The USA now has a new free accessible travel guide: “20 States On Wheels”.    It covers 15 cities and five national parks.  Assembled by four college-age friends (Brad Riew, Kunho Kim, Cynthia Cheung, and You-Myeong Kim), it is based on an epic road trip they took in 2014.   “There are a number of good accessible travel guides to the U.S., but “20 States on Wheels” is definitely a worthy addition to the canon”, says Ian Rudder in New Mobility magazine.   “Each of the 20 chapters focuses on one city or national park and details everything from tourist attractions, to weather, to accessible taxi and van rental information. The book even lists the number of accessible hotel rooms and accessible shower and parking options of a number of hotels in each city. Transit maps, contact info and well-written blurbs on many must-see items will be invaluable for anyone trying to plan a trip to one of the destinations the four friends visited.   Kunho Kim – a paraplegic – offers insights throughout on predictable and unforeseen access obstacles” continues Ruder.

The guide has a lot of great pictures and an easy to read layout.  A short essay about the group’s cross-country adventure begins each chapter.    Check out the official website to find out how to get your free copy.

Follow on Twitter: @20StatesOnWheels @New Mobility

Spanish hotel takes silver at WTM for accessible accommodation

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Photo of exterior of accommodation from the RSHA website

RuralSuite Hotel Apartamentos (RSHA) has won silver at World Travel Market (WTM) Responsible Travel’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.   They received the award at a ceremony at the WTM in London on November 4, 2015, for their work in providing accessible accommodations for travellers of all physical and mental abilities, seniors, and anyone needing better access.  RSHA – in the Navarre region of Northern Spain – fully understands and embraces the fact that people with disabilities want to travel just as much as other people, whether it is for work or play. They understand that, just like everyone, people with disabilities want an adventure, to stay in beautiful accommodations, discover new places and cultures.   RSHA realised that in order for them to be inclusive, they had to do more than the basic, legal requirements.   Being inclusive is also about being insightful. Finding out not only exactly what people’s needs might be, but also what their travel desires are. So, they have created a very informative website, giving all the details travellers with disabilities might require. They also aim to have their website fully accessible in the next year or so too. They have created stylish apartments that are in keeping with the designer feel to the hotel generally, but which also cater for various needs, with accessible kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. The common areas, from the outdoor Jacuzzi to the restaurant are also designed with accessibility in mind. Activities at the hotel are inclusive, with adapted quad bike trips around their vast estate, horseriding and cycling being just a few of the things to do. Their attention to detail is superb, helped along by their partnership with Spanish accessibility experts Fundation ONCE, PREDIF and RedStable.

WTM, which is held in London each year on World Responsible Tourism Day, is the largest travel and tourism event in the world. The accessible tourism award is sponsored by Enable Holidays, which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments.    As with all the WTM award winners in this category, RSHA realise that people with special needs would like their needs to be catered for, but they do not want to be treated as ‘special’. They just want to be treated as guests.

Follow on Twitter: @ruralsuite @Fundacion_ONCE @Predif_Estatal @enableholidays @WTM_London @RTAwards

New Zealand Accessible Tourism website launched

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Access4AllLogo

Congratulations to Richard Fanselow and team on the launch of the New Zealand-wide  accommodation and activity guide especially designed for anyone who has mild to major mobility difficulties.  Access4all (www.access4all.co.nz) uses specially positioned photos so people can check out bathrooms, entrance areas, bedrooms and living areas and find places to stay that are suitable. All accommodation listed has a combination of at least one access unit and other easily accessible standard units. It also uses photos so people can choose suitable attractions and activities at their destination.

The ACCESS4ALL Accommodation Guide has been developed by Fanselow, Websight Architects, Profitsense, and Gorilla Business Advisors, with assistance from the Ministry of Social Development.   Fanselow has been in a wheelchair for 14 years and travelled extensively during this time in New Zealand and overseas. His personal travel experiences are the inspiration behind this guide.

The guide is a major advance in its use of photographs as well as reviews of places visited.  The website encourages any kind of feedback on the guide itself and their approach to providing information.  It is fully functional, meaning people can book directly from it in the same way as other guides like the AA, Booking.com and Expedia.  Using the website will help it to increase listings and further expand throughout New Zealand next year.   More northern destinations will be added in the coming weeks before Christmas. For news and updates check out https://www.facebook.com/Access4allnz-449611348520112/

Follow on Twitter: @access4allNZ @websitearch @SenseProfit @msdgovtnz

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/

Shame on New Zealand

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Wellington War memorial

Shame on New Zealand.  Plans to refurbish our Parliament’s war memorial area don’t have provision for the disabled (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10086613/Upgrade-will-declutter-Cenotaph). A NZ$ 2.5 million revamp includes a staggered staircase, but Parliamentary Services have told the NZ Disabled Persons Assembly (http://www.dpa.org.nz/) that a wheelchair ramp would be “too long”, and a lift “too expensive” (3news).  People with disabilities must go around the back as is typical in many cases.  According to Rachel Noble, DPA chief executive, this is dangerous and very steep route.   

As Noble has pointed out, there are many veterans who will not be able to walk up the steps (of the memorial) with their comrades.  We at Access Tourism NZ believe that this is an insult to the men and women who gave service in many theatres of war to protect our freedoms.  Many of these men and women are now elderly and it is well known that with increasing age comes increasing disability.  In addition, many veterans suffered injury during service to their country that prevents their full mobility.  Why are we treating them as second-class citizens?  In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of younger people attending Anzac Day services to remember the sacrifices of our serving men and women.  Having no direct access for those that are now less mobile is a terrible message to send to our young.  

Follow DPA on Twitter: @DPANAT 

Scandic first to offer free web training for best serving guests with disabilities

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Inside a Scandic Hotel from the Scandic website

Scandic Hotels has launched wide-ranging interactive training on disabilities that is free and open to everyone. In doing so, Scandic provides the answers to difficult and sometimes sensitive questions about the most important issues for people who have some form of disability (one billion worldwide; over 65 million in Europe alone). Since 2003 Scandic has been working to increase accessibility.  This is yet another example of the leadership role Scandic is playing in catering for guests with disabilities – many more examples can be found on this website.

The new web-based training programme uses advice, tips, tests and instruction videos to show how to provide optimum service to guests with disabilities. The training is one of the many courses and training programmes that Scandic has produced on accessibility for its own staff but because the market is developing quickly and these issues are extremely relevant, Scandic has chosen to make the training available to everyone on its website. The hope is that this unique training programme, which sheds light on some of the many disabilities there are, will also benefit people outside Scandic too, particularly those working in the travel and tourism industry.   “The great thing about the new training programme is that everyone can learn something from it, whether they work in the hotel industry or in any other service sector,” says Magnus Berglund, Scandic’s Accessibility Director.  “By following the route of a guest through the hotel, stopping at reception, in the hotel room and in the restaurant, we are able to highlight tricky and sometimes maybe sensitive issues in these different settings. The way guests are treated is vital – it’s about treating everyone equally but at the same time knowing and understanding how together we can meet the special needs and resolve the issues that arise with different disabilities.”  Berglund gave a presentation about Scandic as a good example in the hotel industry at the European Commission International Day of People with Disabilities in Brussels on the 2nd of this month.

Frank Fiskers, Scandic’s CEO says that “the need to learn more about disabilities and to share this information is huge, and it’s growing fast, just like the number of travelling guests with disabilities.” says Frank Fiskers, Scandic’s CEO.  Scandic believes that everyone should be offered the same high Scandic standard, whether or not the guest has a disability. In consultation with organisations for people with special needs, hotel guests and team members, Scandic has therefore drawn up a checklist of 110 points that goes by the name of Scandic’s Accessibility Standard. The standard covers everything offered by Scandic and is an integral element of all products and services at its hotels. Scandic has also implemented smart design features in the rooms to make them accessible for people with disabilities. Scandic is the first hotel chain in the world to post full accessibility information for all 160 of its hotels online. Each Scandic hotel has its own page carrying unique information about the hotel and its facilities.

At the moment the training is in English but Scandic will also be launching it in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and German in the future.   For further information, please contact: Anna-Klara Lindholm, PR Manager Scandic, tel: +46 70-973 52 31 Magnus Berglund, Accessibility Director Scandic, tel: +46 70-973 50 77

Reward your favourite disabilities charity next time you book a room

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Lake on West Coast South Island New Zealand

New Zealanders love to travel and they love to give to charity. Kiwi Karma is an accommodation website that donates 3% of the total room cost to a charity of the guest’s choice. The site has been operating for over a year now and is about to expand on their proven model.  Kiwi Karma features more than 3,100 listings covering a full range of accommodation from backpackers to lodges in New Zealand. As part of the booking process users nominate their preferred charity from a drop-box when they complete their reservation. Kiwi Karma is tapping into the world-wide trend of consumers actively seeking to deal with businesses that allow them to purchase in a socially responsible way.

“Kiwis were ranked fourth in global generosity in the 2011 World Giving Index and increasingly embracing products and services in a way that enables them to give back to their communities,” says Craig Crestani, who with his wife marketer Shelley (with clients in the charity sector) developed the concept.   “Through Shelley I know how hard fundraising can be for charities,” Craig says. “The website was one of those three o’clock in the morning ideas. I realised I could marry my experience in accommodation with Shelley’s expertise in marketing to develop a business that would also give back to the community”.  There are 20 charities involved with the site, but Kiwi Karma is working closely with the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand to extend this new fundraising initiative to others.

One of Kiwi Karma’s early adopters was Forest & Bird. Development Manager Dave Bellamy who loves the concept, “Kiwi Karma is a New Zealand company with an innovative cause related marketing model. It provides both real value for its customers with competitive accommodation rates, but importantly also provides an income stream for Forest & Bird. Their model works so well because it is frictionless. Customers don’t need to do anything additional to their normal buying practice. Simply by booking their accommodation through Kiwi Karma they are directly supporting our work to protect endangered native species.”

For more information, please contact: Craig Crestani, 021 639 035, craig@kiwikarma.co

Source: Press relaese

Enable Holidays to talk at World Travel Market London

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Picture of three Egyptian pyramids from the Enable Holidays website

Lynne Kirby from Enable Holidays will join high-profile speakers Evan Davies, BBC Radio 4 presenter, and Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow Airport, at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on 6th November.  The WTM has 49,000 visitors from every sector of the travel industry, who attend for exhibits, seminars and discussions.  Enable Holidays was established by Kirby in 2004 and specialises in accessible holidays for people with disabilities and mobility impairments.  She will speak at a session sponsored by Amadeus exploring whether the global travel industry is keeping pace with changing traveller expectations.  The session chaired by Steve Endacott, Chief Executive of On Holiday Group, will focus on how travel companies can provide a superior service to match travellers with the experiences they desire – including the integration of smarter technology and examples of best practice.  Kirby sees this as “an excellent opportunity to highlight the needs and desires of disabled travellers to a global audience”.   The UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion.  Disabled travellers are a sizeable yet poorly addressed segment of the market and the industry needs to do more to meet their requirements, said Kirby.  The session, entitled Amadeus Travel Insights: Connecting with the 21st-century traveller  also includes panellists Simone Buckley, CEO of the Institute of Travel & Meetings, Carol Hay, Director of Marketing UK and Europe at the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the Leisure Director at Advantage Travel Centres, Julia Lo-Bue Said.

Enable Holidays was the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with impaired mobility. All of the 250 accessible properties available to book via Enable Holidays have been personally visited by a qualified auditor.  Enable also caters for the elderly market, slow walkers and people looking for an easier way to get around and enjoy their holiday.

Follow on Twitter: @enableholidays @WTM_London @EvanHD @AmadeusITGroup @heathrowAirport @OnHolidayGroup  @ITMtweets @ctotourism @AdvantageHQ

Why Baby Boomers are being sold short: NZ Listener article

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Front cover of the Listener magazine for August 31 to September 6 2013 showing faceless Baby Boomers

This week’s New Zealand Listener magazine cover story is about how business in this country neglects Baby Boomers to their peril.  Karl du Fresne writes that Boomers are a huge demographic controlling most of the disposable income who are largely ignored.  Older consumers are 32% of our population but control an estimated 65% of disposable income but attract only 10% of of advertising spending.  Doug Lloyd at AUT University’s communications school says that this is because agencies and marketers are dominated by people under 40.  “While the baby-boomer generation spends up large on new cars, travel, technology, financial services, healthcare, and dining out, advertising agencies and marketing managers still seem to equate age with Viagara and Zimmer frames” writes du Fresne.  The phenomenon was noted in “The business of Ageing”, a 2011 Ministry of Social Development report which warned that businesses who ignore Boomers will find their markets shrinking.  Other reports – such as that by Neilsen for the Hope Foundation for Research on Ageing –  have warned of the consequences of ignoring the Boomer market.  Many a blog on this website (Access Tourism NZ) has over the years tried to bring the attention of the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry to the fact that by ignoring Boomers, seniors (and people with disabilities), the industry is ignoring a lucrative market (the latest such article, 12 days ago). An indication of this lack of interest in older visitors to NZ can be seen, for example, in the promotional photographs in the image library used by the 100% Pure NZ website (the official Tourism NZ website).  A quick survey of these photographs shows that fewer than 5% include models who appear to be over 45 years of age acting as visitors.  This is in spite of the fact that the number of older visitors to New Zealand is on the rise, and that currently 43% are 45 or older.

Former NZ Herald editor-in-chief Gavin Ellis (now a media researcher) pointed out to du Fresne that ignoring Boomers is counter-intuitive, and that “younger people now, particularly the under-25s, are finding it very hard to get high-paying jobs…..their disposable income is probably less that it has been in the past”.  Richard Poole, co-founder of GrownUps, an ezine aimed at the mature, internet-savvy demographic says this group should be even more attractive to advertisers because people aged 46-65 are often influential across four generations. “As well as making their own spending decisions, they might be choosing a retirement home for their octogenarian parents, advising their adult children on their first home purchase, and opening KiwiSaver accounts for their grandchildren”

The Listener article also presented the following facts about New Zealanders 50 years old or older:

  • More than 100 New Zealanders a day turn 50
  • They spend 16% per person more than younger New Zealanders
  • They buy 80% of new premium car purchases
  • 30% are internet users (more than in the 4049 age group)
  • By 2031 there will be over 1 million aged 65 or older
  • By 2051 consumer spending by older people could increase from $11 billion currently to $45 billion
  • Their spending on food and entertainment is expected to increase fourfold

Keroul Quebec to participate in the 6th UNenable conference of States Parties on CRPD

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Keroul Quebec logo

Kéroul Quebec will participate in the Sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in New York July 16-19 (UN Enable).  Kéroul will host a Side-event regarding the World Summit Destinations for All (Twitter #D4All2014), July 17, from 3.00 to 4.30, Room Conference E.  The World summit “Destinations for All” will be held in Montreal in October, 2014.  Keroul is a non-profit organization that provides information about accessible travel in Quebec, develops, promotes, and lobbies about accessible tourism, and is the key consultant for Tourisme Quebec regarding accessibility.  Co-sponsors of the Keroul side-event include the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and the International Organization of Social Tourism (OITS-ISTO).

The theme of the sixth UN Enable session is “Ensuring adequate standard of living: empowerment and participation of persons with disabilities within the framework of the CRPD”.   Sub-themes  include 1., Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies; 2., Disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes, and 3., Community-based rehabilitation and habilitation for inclusive society.

 

NZ Baby Boomers increasing use of internet

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Baby Boomers are increasingly technologically savvy, according to a survey commissioned by leading 50+ community website, GrownUps New Zealand.  More than a thousand Kiwi baby boomers revealed their technological habits in GrownUps annual online survey with results showing the only factor holding people back from using the internet more was a lack of free time.  Nearly 50% said more free time would enable them to increase use of the internet.  Ninetye-seven percent are regular users of social media sites, and 62% are active users of Facebook. YouTube and Twitter are also popular.   Fifty-six percent use the internet to research travel destinations and book overseas holidays.  Ninety-three percent use broadband, and use the internet between 5 and 20 hours per week.

Richard Poole, co-founder of GrownUps says the survey results indicate that Kiwis over fifty are one of the most technologically advanced groups, right up there with those in Generation Y.  This is contrary to the popular opinion that Kiwis over fifty are not very technologically conscious.

EC backed study of accessible tourism supply, training, projects Europe- and world-wide

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Wheelchair waiting to be loaded onto a plane

As part of the European Commission’s implementation of the Parliament’s 3-year ‘Preparatory Action on Accessible Tourism’ the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), VVA Europe, and 3s Research Laboratory have been selected as partner on a project to map the supply of accessible tourism services across Europe and to identify skills gaps and training requirements for accessible tourism.   The study will analyse supply chains and performance in all the EU Member States and will propose recommendations and priorities for actions to increase and improve the supply of accessible tourism services.  This is a 12-month project.

Currently, an online survey aimed at training providers is underway. It hopes to learn about any past, present or planned training courses, initiatives or materials that focus on accessible tourism – that is, training which addresses tourism services for people with disabilities or others who have specific access requirements when travelling or in destinations, accommodation, attractions, restaurants or any other facilities. Anyone involved in training tourism students or professionals or who develops training materials for the tourism sector is e invited to take the online survey here.  Training organisations from outside the European Union are also welcome to answer the survey as the researchers are very interested and open to learning from the experiences of tourism training providers from other regions of the world.   The survey has two purposes:

  • Creating an inventory of accessible tourism training courses and initiatives (e.g. projects), past and present, in all EU Member States;
  • Providing details of the target groups, trainees, training institutions, course curricula and course outcomes, where available.

It will also identify examples of training courses and initiatives that can be developed as case studies for dissemination purposes. The survey is open until 6 May.

A new European “Tourism for All online Register” service will be set up, enabling tourism suppliers to present their accessible accommodation, venues, attractions and services.

Results of the study will be presented at a European stakeholder workshop in 2014 and via the Internet. This research study complements the project on mapping skills and training in accessible tourism for the European Commission also managed by VVA-Europe.

Contact the Study Team:

Ivor Ambrose, ENAT
Pierre Hausemer, VVA
Sonja Lengauer, 3S Research Laboratory

ENAT Secretariat
Email: enat@accessibletourism.org

VVA – Survey helpdesk
Email: k.ito@vva.it
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 75548699

Deakin University Australia poll of people with disabilities: preliminary results regarding levels of social inclusion

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Kangaroo on a road sign

Deakin University School of Psychology, Victoria Australia  is conducting a series of polls designed to gauge the opinions of people with a disability.  Preliminary results of the first poll are now available, while the second poll is currently underway.  The 2010 and 2011 polls were answered by over 760 people, aged from 18 to 98 years of age.  They included people with disabilities ranging from physical and intellectual disability to sensory and psychiatric disability and people living with chronic illness or pain. Around 60% of people had more than one disability.  Preliminary analysis shows that Australians with disabilities:

• reported a much lower level of wellbeing than Australians in general

• report a low level of satisfaction with their sense of security in the future and their health

• if women, have lower levels of wellbeing than men

• had the lowest level of wellbeing if their disability was psychiatric

• in paid work (1/3 of those who completed the survey), had higher levels of wellbeing than those not in paid work

• said their needs for participation in cultural, recreational and spiritual activities, were poorly met.

• felt undervalued by society on average: almost 1/5 felt their needs were totally unmet in this regard

• reported (1/5 of respondents) that their needs were not met at all in relation to accessing mental health and disability services

• rated most highly some of the essentials of life – access to decent housing, to the phone or internet. However, even then, only around 1/3 felt their needs were fully met regarding access to decent housing, and ½ felt their needs were fully met regarding access to the telephone and internet.

Respondents reported many barriers to social inclusion including (in order of response rate): the attitudes of others, their health, physical access, and money, among others. Specific reults include:

Only 9% said their social contact needs were fully met

Only 6% said their community participation needs were fully met

Only 10% said their need to feel valued and belong were fully met

Only 10% said their access to services needs were fully met

With regard to social specific inclusion items, people who reported their needs were fully met fell within the range of 7% (participating in arts and cultural activities) to 22% (having access to medical services). As further examples, people with a disability said their needs were not fully met in relation to:

89% say their needs are not fully met for having a social life

89% say their needs are not fully met for going out to cafes, bars and pubs

87% say their needs are not fully met for getting support in times of crisis

88% say their needs are not fully met for accessing mental health services

86% say their needs are not fully met for accessing disability support services

The biggest single barrier they identified was the attitudes of others. The five biggest barriers to social inclusion as indicated by the participants are:

Attitudes of others 39%

Health 28%

Physical access 26%

Money 25%

Transport 21%

“Building Seismic Performance” consultation document asks if disability upgrade requirements are “a barrier” to strengthening work

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Banned wheelchair sign

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) New Zealand is seeking comments on proposals to improve the earthquake-prone building system following the destructive earthquakes in Canterbury. It is estimated that New Zealand has between 15,000 and 25,000 earthquake-prone buildings, representing around 8-13% of all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings.  This proposals will mean significant changes to New Zealand’s earthquake-prone building system. They are broadly in line with the recommendations of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission in Volume 4 of its final report, delivered to the Government on 10 October 2012 and publicly released on 7 December 2012. Of particular interest to people with disabilities is whether the current Building Act fire escape and disability upgrade requirements are, “in practice, a barrier to building owners deciding to carry out earthquake strengthening work” (MBIE; emphasis mine).

The consultation exercise will inform the Government’s response to the full Royal Commission report. The Government expects to deliver this in early to mid-2013.  According to the MBIE, views “Views are needed to ensure our earthquake-prone building policy is a robust and workable balance for New Zealand.”  This statement is followed by the qualification “though we must be realistic about what is practical and affordable” (MBIE; emphasis mine).

The following is taken directly from the MBIE consultation document:

Section 4 – Other Issues:  Strengthening and other Building Act upgrade requirements

Views are sought on whether the current Building Act fire escape and disability upgrade requirements are, in practice, a barrier to building owners deciding to carry out earthquake strengthening work.

The costs of strengthening the estimated 15,000-25,000 buildings affected by these proposals are substantial, and may cause significant financial hardship for many building owners.

The Building Act currently prevents local authorities from issuing building consents for alterations, including earthquake strengthening, unless the building is also upgraded to comply “as nearly as reasonably practicable” with current Building Code requirements for fire escape and for access and facilities for people with disabilities. This can impose additional costs on owners.

The Royal Commission recommends amending the Building Act to enable local authorities to issue building consents for strengthening works, without triggering the Building Act rule to upgrade the building to comply “as nearly as reasonably practicable” with current Building Code requirements for access and facilities for people with disabilities. (Recommendation 98, Vol.4, Final Report).

Questions:

21. Are current requirements to upgrade buildings to “as nearly as reasonably practicable” to Building Code fire and disabled access requirements a disincentive or barrier to owners planning to earthquake-strengthen existing buildings?

22. Should local authorities be able to grant building consents for earthquake strengthening without triggering the requirement to upgrade the building towards Building Code fire escape and disabled access and facilities requirements?

23. Should any change apply to both fire escape and disabled access and facilities requirements, or to disabled access and facilities requirements only, i.e., retain the current fire escape upgrade requirements?

24. What would be the costs and other implications of de-linking earthquake strengthening from current Building Code fire and disabled access requirements?

If you are as shocked as I am by this, please make your views known to the government – Consultation closes: Friday, 8 March 2013.

New web resource: History of disability in England

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Opening in a church wall

English Heritage is the Government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment in that country.  It is an organisation that promotes caring for, valuing, understanding, and  enjoying the heritage of England.   It recently launched a major new web resource called Disability in Time and Place.  The resource reveals how disabled peoples’ lives are integral to heritage, and how disabled people have had a major influence on many well known, and less well known, buildings. From leper chapels built with leper’s squints (an oblique opening in the wall so those with leprosy could see the service without coming into contact with others) in the 1100s to meeting places for the first disabled self-help groups in the early 20th century, to protests about accessibility in the 1980s, the built environment is inextricably linked to the stories of disabled people, hidden and well-known.  To produce the resource, English Heritage worked with disabled people and specialists in disability history.  All the content has been translated into British Sign Language. The website has information about disabilities through the ages, broken into six sections (Medieval period, Tudor England, 18th century, 19th century, early 20th century, and late 20th century). There is additional information about buildings highlighted in the resource, some of which are open to the public.