New Zealand Accessible Tourism website launched

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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 ( 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, 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

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

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: (Contains audio); Visit demo at

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 ( A NZ$ 2.5 million revamp includes a staggered staircase, but Parliamentary Services have told the NZ Disabled Persons Assembly ( 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,

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

VVA – Survey helpdesk
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).


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.

On opposite sides of the globe, airlines and access for people with disabilities are again in the news

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Airlines on opposite sides of the globe are coming under fire again for their handling of people with disabilities. For starters, Jetstar’s refusal in April to carry wheelchair-using journalists between Auckland and  Wellington has made it into the Innes Worst of the Year Awards list. The list is created by Graeme Innes, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner . Innes hands out brickbats and bouquets once a year to those who do great work (or otherwise) for, by, and on behalf of the disability sector in that country. Innes calls the refusal of Jetstar – and also Virgin and Tiger airlines – to carry more than two people using wheelchairs on each aircraft “airline apartheid”.  Meanwhile,  Australian Sheila King has taken action against Jetstar in the federal Court over its “two-wheelchair-only” policy.

In the northern hemisphere, Easyjet unleashed a Twitter storm of indignation when it refused to board a woman with her service dog.  Joanna Jones was trying to board a flight at Gatwick for Belfast and had her dog Orla with her.  She had a week before had no issues with boarding with Orla for the flight from Belfast to Gatwick.  Staff at Easyjet admitted that they could see Orla was a guide dog, but said that Jones needed to provide the paperwork to “make her flight more  ‘comfortable’”.  Easyjet booked Jones on another flight after she received paperwork. Easyjet has been criticised in the past for its policies concerning customers with disabilities.

Improved Accessibility – a Commercial Success for Scandic Hotels

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Scandic – which has 160 hotels in the Nordic region and Northern Europe – is intensifying its successful focus on improved accessibility for visitors with disabilities and others who want improved access. This year, over 100 new accessible rooms will be added to the portfolio and 2012 there will be even more to meet the large and growing demand. Scandic says that more and more companies and organisations seek rooms and conference facilities that are accessible to all.  At the same time the numbers of older, active private travellers who are  attracted by improved accessibility are increasing. Improving accessibility has proven to be a commercial success for Scandic.

Design for All is a key concept in Scandic’s accessibility work. The aim is for the accessible rooms to  be just as well designed as any other room, with practical solutions that go  almost unnoticed, except by those who really need them. Hooks, mirrors and keyholes at two heights are appreciated by children, short adults and those who use a wheelchair. Height-adjustable beds and extra spacious bathrooms are  popular with all guests. Scandic’s comprehensive 110-point accessibility  programme covers everything from team member training to adapted rooms and extensive, detailed accessibility information on every hotel’s website.

“When we take over a hotel, we implement our accessibility programme within three months and, after just one year, we tend to notice more bookings from private guests and from companies and organisations, thanks to our accessibility work. This gives us a clear competitive advantage and, as well as showing our commitment to social responsibility, we see major commercial benefits in being accessible to all,” says  Magnus Berglund, Disability Ambassador at Scandic.

New hotels require smart new solutions

A lowered reception desk for wheelchair users, a guest computer in the lobby at a comfortable height for a wheelchair and an ordinary chair, a hearing loop in conference facilities and reception, and vibrating alarm clocks that also hear the fire alarms are just some examples of smart solutions that ensure a high level of accessibility.   Scandic’s accessibility work remains a core focus in  its new and refurbished hotels, with numerous examples of best practice. To read about these, continue here:

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Wanted: Your Opinion of the Revamped Tourism New Zealand Website

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A New Zealand tourism trade publication is looking for feedback on the recently revamped Tourism New Zealand website.  Specifically, they are asking:

Is the site effective and why?
Does it work for your company?
Does it achieve what it has been set out to do?
Is the main page too large?
How easy is it to navigate?
Is the home page confusing?
Does it work on smartphones etc?
Any further comments?

The website:

Please send your response to “editor(at)” and tell them if you are a potential visitor in or to New Zealand, or are you in the NZ or international tourism industry?  Please advise if your comments are ON or OFF the record.

Some Auckland Theatres now Offering Sign Language and Audio Interpretation

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THE EDGE in Auckland New Zealand is now offering a new initiative called SIGNAL. This programme offers Sign Language Interpreted performances for the deaf or hearing impaired and Audio Described performances for blind or vision impaired patrons. The Edge run the Aotea Centre, Auckland Town Hall, The Civic and Aotea Square. During shows for the visually impaired, a sign language interpreter stands at the side of the stage so people can watch the performance and the signing at the same time. Audio described performances involves people wearing headsets – similar to those used in conferences for translation – and a trained audio describer sits at the back of the theatre describing the non-verbal aspects of the performance, including introductory notes before the performance describing the set, costumes and characters.  Patrons can find out about upcoming sign language and interpreted performances on the SIGNAL website. Read more here.

Auckland Transport Accessibility Initiatives

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Auckland Transport is introducing a number of initiatives to help make public transport more accessible to a wider range of people. The initiatives are part of a long-term focus on improving accessibility to transport for people who currently find it difficult to access public transport for a range of reasons, for example limited mobility, various and different impacted abilities due to age, vision impairment.  The aim is to provide safe, accessible transport services for as much of the Auckland population as possible. It includes the whole travel experience from when someone seeks to access information about their travel options until they arrive at their destination. The first improvements are focused on better customer information on public transport services and facilities. Some are already available and others will be progressively introduced over the next months.

For more information about the improvements, continue reading……….

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Medical Tourism “Exploding” Overseas; Poorly Developed in New Zealand

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Medical Tourism Operating Theatre Scene

Medical tourism is expected to explode as Baby Boomers around the world retire and travel to different countries to receive treatment (AARP).  In the US$2.5 Trillion tourism industry, some US$ 106-billion is considered “Wellness Tourism” and US$ 50-billion as “Medical Tourism”.   According to a recent ABC news release, an estimated 550,000 Americans travelled abroad last year (2010) to take care of their medical needs (Travel Industry Today). That number is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years.  Countries other than New Zealand are gearing up for this growth.  The German National Tourist Board has recently published three brochures featuring details about wellness holidays that tout the quality of healthcare in Germany, as well as the luxurious accommodations that foreign patients can expect (Treatment Abroad).  Mindful that in 2006 alone, some US$350M has been spent on medical and wellness tourism by over 250,000 nonresident patients in the Philippines (Manila Bulletin), the government there is preparing to introduce a new visa, which will allow foreign nationals to stay in the country for up to six months while receiving medical treatment (International Insurance News).   India, Thailand and Singapore are currently the major players in the medical tourism industry and have been building their medical tourism industries over a number of years, developing a reputation for quality and affordable private healthcare.  Taiwan, South Korea, and Malaysia have been stepping up efforts to appeal to more medical tourists.  Taiwan has been heavily marketing its tourism industry, particularly to the Chinese, seeking to capitalize on its high standard of private healthcare and closeness to the growing affluent population on the mainland. South Korea is aiming its medical tourism sector towards Japanese patients seeking better value medical and surgical treatments. Malaysia is promoting its private medical sector, emphasizing the country’s Islamic roots to target clients of Middle Eastern origin.  In turn, Dubai has constructed the Dubai Healthcare City in order to accommodate the rising demand for state-of-the-art healthcare facilities by baby boomers and seniors.

In a bid to promote New Zealand as a medical destination, a NZ company is offering Americans healthcare options that are a third of what they pay in the US.  Medtral set up in California and has commenced promoting cheap elective surgery through the Ascot Hospital in Auckland (eTravelBlackboard).   However, the New Zealand government has not shown any resolve to develop this market.  In fact, the most recent Ministry of Tourism figures for medical visits to NZ show that such visits have remained at around 0.01% of our total visitor count for the last seven years, and medical tourism “has not been something that has been considered’, according to Associate Minister of Tourism Jonathan Coleman (Inside Tourism 742, June 19, 2009).  New Zealand needs to seriously consider developing this sector, along with Access Tourism, if it not to miss out on a lucrative market.

Social Inclusion Tourism-For-All Enterprise, India

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Travel another India

The People’s Action Group on Inclusion and Rights (PAGIR) is a rights movement working to create a society that is inclusive and sees economic contribution as the first step to social inclusion. Towards this end, PAGIR recently set up Himalaya on Wheels (HoW!), an enterprise to promote tourism for all.  PAGIR has partnered with Travel Another India (TAI) to set up this enterprise and develop tour packages in Ladakh for guests who use wheel chairs.

The people who are driving this initiative are:

Gouthami, Shivani, and Vidhya – they form the core group of JwB. 

Gouthami is the CEO of TAI and has the experience of promoting Responsible Tourism Ventures in India (

Shivani from AccessAbility is an expert in access audits and has the  experience of working on access policies in the tourism industry. (  

Vidhya, a professional in the disability sector, has worked with disability groups and local governments on inclusion and advocacy issues. (