WCET praises UNWTO, partners initiatives on Accessible Tourism

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Croydon (6)

 The fourteenth meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics meeting in Rome, Italy (17-18 November 2014) commended the efforts of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and its partners to advance Accessible Tourism for All. The Committee firmly supported the “Montreal Declaration – A World for All”, the outcome document of the recent World Summit on Destinations for, and participated actively in the 1st Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe held in San Marino on 19-20 November.  Besides the issue of accessibility, the Committee also debated the ethical implications of the promotion of fair models of all-inclusive holidays, the impact on tourism of unfounded ratings on travel portals and the effect of the rise of sharing economy in tourism.  “The tourism sector is undergoing great changes…. which we have to understand and reflect in our initiatives”, said Pascal Lamy, chair of the Committee.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the independent body responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.  The UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts. It was adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly in 1999 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.  The Committee – a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly – reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.

Links: WCET http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/world-committee-tourism-ethics  UNWTO http://www2.unwto.org/ Conference on Accessible Tourism  http://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz/2014/03/unwto-san-marino-to-hold-first-european-conference-on-accessible-tourism/  Destinations for All http://www.destinationsforall2014.com/en/declaration#.VG_V7cIcRYc  UNWTO/San Marino 1st European

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @Keroul1979 @RisiMarcelo @Fundacion_ONCE @SanMarinoxTutti @undesadspd @UNWTO @DPT20141

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The 20 most accessible tourist attractions in Britain

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Science Museum London early computer

 

The 20 most accessible places for people with disabilities in Britain have been named.  The attractions were chosen by the tourism boards of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  In naming the attractions Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled people pointed out that businesses were missing out if they did not cater for people with disabilities.  “There are eleven million people with a disability in Britain and they and theor families have a spending power of over £200bn”, said Harper.  The minister pointed out that it takes little to make businesses more accessible. 

The accessible attractions include the Science Museum in London, Cadbury World in Birmingham, The National Childrens Museum on Halifax Yorkshire, Red kite Spotting in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales, the royal Yatch Britannia in Edinburgh, and the Titanic building, Belfast.

As Sophie Morgan – who works for VisitBritain to promote accessible UK attractions has pointed out, people with disabilities “travel in groups and will generally stay in accommodation longer – a dream for hoteliers”.  While some issues with access are problematic – especially in heritage buildings, in other instances problems could be fixed by sumply adding a few photos to a website.  People with disabilities often spend hours researching a trip, “simply because companies fail to provide the correct information, including pictures, on their websites”, said Morgan.  As well as better, more accurate information about access, Morgan would like to see greater consistency among rail operators and airlines when dealing with disabled passengers, and the establishment of a nationwide online portal to provide reliable detailed information on accessible attractions.

Follow on Twitter: @Telegraph @sophmorgan @VisitBritain @VisitScotland @VisitWales @DiscoverNI

Scandic Hotels wins awards for freely available accessibility training

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Accessible room Scandic Hotels website

Scandic Hotels is a leader in making accessible accommodation open to everyone (see the many reports on this website).  Now Scandic’s accessibility training has won first prize for best interactive training at the Swedish Learning Awards 2014 and also took home silver in the British E-learning Awards.  Scandic is the leading hotel operator in Nordic countries. Just over 10 years ago Scandic started making its hotels more accessible for people with disabilities.   Part of this effort includes the development of a wide-ranging interactive training programme for all the hotel chain’s employees with the aim of fostering an understanding of different types of accessibility challenges and the importance of treating all guests properly. At the end of 2013, Scandic made interactive training openly available to all on its own website in order to improve awareness.  “Every day we see people from outside Scandic completing our training on the website. Receiving an award for this is the icing on the cake and something that makes us particularly proud. It shows that the issue of accessibility is an important one,” says Scandic’s Director of Accessibility Magnus Berglund. In the Swedish E-learning awards Scandic won in the category “Best e-learning profit-making business” in Sweden. The jury said: “An easy-to-use interface with inspiring shifts in perspective that enable a wide target group to realise and understand that when staying at a hotel not everyone enjoys the same experience on the same terms.”   Scandic also won silver for the best e-learning product in the British E-learning Awards, amid  tough competition from 250 international entries. Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @ScandicNorge

Scottish government boost to ferry network accessibility

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Scottish ferry Scotland’s transport minister Keith Brown has announced a new £500,000 fund to improve accessibility on Scotland’s ferry network.  The Ferries Accessibility Fund will be open to bids from the public and private sector, and aims to make improvements to existing vessels and harbours that go beyond regulatory standards set for accessibility. Awards will be made on a match-funding basis, which means that operators bidding for money will be expected to match the contribution from the fund themselves. The fund will initially be open to applications until the end of November 2014, with the successful applicants being announced in January 2015. Further calls will be issued in 2015.   Brown said: “Scotland’s ferry services should be open and accessible to everyone, and we want ferry and harbour operators to provide the best passenger experience possible”.  Operators already have strict standards to meet when it comes to accessibility, but this announcement can help them to go further.  “The funding could help a wide range of proposals, from adapting existing ships and harbours to make it easier and safer for people with reduced mobility to embark and disembark, to giving staff training in disability awareness and customer service” brown continued.  “By making awards on a match-funding basis, it means up to £1million could be spent on accessibility improvements across the ferry network.” Anne Maclean, convenor of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) said: “The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland welcomes the Ferries Accessibility Fund as an encouraging initiative to go beyond the requirements of legislation and to include disabled people in pointing out and making sometimes small changes which can make the Ferry journey much more accessible, comfortable and enjoyable for the disabled traveller.”    The Fund is open to bids from any ferry or harbour operator providing a service covered by the Scottish Ferries Plan, published in December 2012. This includes local authority and private sector port and ferry services.

Source: Transport Scotland  Follow on Twitter: @transcotland

Tourism Assoc Ontario recognizes growing importance of accessible tourism

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20141114_C6682_PHOTO_EN_8046

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) has announced that Easter Seals Canada is the winner of the Tourism Industry Award of Excellence for Accessible Tourism. This award is new to the program this year, and celebrates efforts made to make tourism businesses and destinations available to all Ontarians.  Easter Seals Canada is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem, and self-determination of Canadians with disabilities. Implementing inclusive and accessible services is the cornerstone of the programs offered by Easter Seals Canada, such as the Access 2 Entertainment and Disability Travel Card programs, which work with the transportation, entertainment and tourism sectors to implement accessible service action plans

TIAO is recognized as the umbrella organization for leading associations, destination marketing organizations and regional tourism organizations serving Ontario’s diverse tourism industry. Collectively representing 149,000 businesses and 305,000 employees dedicated to promoting and operating the province’s powerful tourism infrastructure, TIAO provides a strong, unified voice for the sector and advocates the importance of tourism to all levels of government in order to help the industry grow and prosper. The Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence recognize leaders in innovation, events, volunteering, sustainability and accessibility within Ontario’s vibrant tourism industry.

Beth Potter, President & CEO, TIAO said of the award “Accessible tourism has become a major trend in both Ontario and Canada. One in seven Ontarians has a disability, and that number is expected to rise over the next 20 years. Easter Seals Canada is ahead of the curve in creating services for this market, and TIAO is thrilled to present them with our newest award.”

SOURCE Tourism Industry Association of Ontario https://www.tiaontario.ca/.  Follow on Twitter: @TiaoTweets @EasterSeals 

San Francisco Airport directions app for the Blind, visually impaired

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Using indoors app

San Francisco Airport (SFO) http://www.flysfo.com/  is testing out location-aware beacons, a program it could roll out to the rest of the airport if successful.   The beacons deliver location-sensitive, voice –based directions via smartphones to help people who are Blind, have vision loss, or find it difficult to navigate.  At the moment, the system uses Apple iOS devices, but SFO plans to make it available for Android users and eventually expand the system to provide information for those who can see.  The beacons are provided by indoor mapping firm indoo.rs, http://indoo.rs/sfo/ who have installed 300 of them at various points around Terminal 2 including stores, restrooms, boarding gates, baggage claim and even power outlets. The beacons use triangulation to determine exactly where the passenger is within the vicinity and to relay nearby facilities using voiceover technology.  Each beacon will connect to the phone app to provide information when a user gets within range.

Location beacons are in their infancy in terms of adoption, but are beginning to show up in retail spaces, museums, movie theatres, and some sports venues around the world.  SFO and Indoo.rs say they plan to continue testing this system over the next month with a live version of the site, and public availability of the software in the fall. 

Follow on Twitter: @flySFO @indoo_rs

ICT and coastal tourism for all: European conference

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Cote d Azur veiw of the coast

Euro-Mediterranean m-Tourism institutions and professionals recently shared their ideas and suggestions on ICT and Coastal Tourism for All with 80 professionals attending the 4th Telecom Valley m-Tourism Day in Nice, France (http://www.investincotedazur.com/en/info/news/ict-and-coastal-tourism-for-all-in-the-euro-mediterranean/).  The session was part of the Digital Economy Fortnight in PACA. Coastal tourism was discussed in terms of  access for all, including people with disabilities, families, seniors, and others who need better access. Presenting bodies included institutions (Riviera Cote d’Azur CRT, Nice Cote d’Azur CCI, NECstour) and digital companies which are developing solutions related tosuch visitors.  Included were the WACAN Agency in Sophia Antipolis, which has developed a smartphone application for walksfor those with visual and hearing loss. The AISM (Italian Association for multiple sclerosis), BALEARES TURISMO, CARPEVITAM NGO, DEFISMED, FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA TURISMO, GEOLIVES) also presented projects.  .

Jean-Bernard Titz, President of Telecom Valley and leader of the m-Tourism commission, announced the release of the commission’s latest white paper (www.m-tourism-day.eu) focusing on “Tourism, ICT and Disability”, which is the result of consultation involving many beneficiaries and experts in tourism, ICT, law,  and the Silver Economy (senior citizens economy).

Follow on Twitter: @TelecomValley @jbdevhelp @CotedAzur4Biz

VisitEngland funded by EC to promote Accessible Tourism

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Changing of the Guard Buck Palace and Wellington Barracks (27)

At the start of World Travel Market this week, VisitEngland (http://www.visitengland.com/) announced plans for a national drive to promote England as a leading destination for accessible tourism, following a successful bid for funding from the European Commission.   The announcement came as new research by VisitEngland shows the overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3billion to the England economy, with day visits bringing the figure up to £12.4billion.  The ‘Access for All’ project will be funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission. VisitEngland will partner with seven destinations – including Bath, Leicestershire, Newcastle Gateshead, and Brighton –  to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs. As part of this, 56 businesses will be involved in a process to improve their accessibility. Informative visitor guides will be created for each destination to put on show the wide breadth of tourism experiences available, and to promote local tourism businesses that are providing a warm welcome to all visitors, including those with access needs.   VisitEngland will also deliver a national marketing campaign which will go live in late summer/early autumn 2015 to showcase the experiences on offer for visitors with access needs, and encourage more people to take a short break in England.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland noted that as the national tourist board, VisitEngland is committed to ensuring England is a destination that offers a warm welcome for all visitors. “The Access for All project is a fantastic opportunity to continue to build England’s reputation as a leader in accessible tourism, and help grow this important and valuable market, now worth £3billion to England’s economy” said Berresford.   Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said that the “ Access for All project will help disabled people enjoy England’s world beating tourist destinations. The tourism sector is making a significant contribution to economic growth in this country and we want to keep up that momentum by ensuring our destinations are welcoming to all.”

VisitEngland has taken a leading role in supporting and encouraging tourism businesses to make the most of this valuable market. The project, which will run from October 2014 until March 2016, will expand on VisitEngland’s pilot Access for All project which supported four destinations to create accessible experiences, accompanied by a national marketing campaign launched in March this year with the support of top Paralympians.

Today (4/11/2012), VisitEngland’s lead on Access, Ross Calladine and a host of other speakers will present a WTM Seminar: “Preparing your Destinations for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research Practice” in London. 

For more information and to view the full infographic on the Volume and Value of Accessible Tourism in England see http://www.visitengland.org/busdev/bussupport/access/buscase/index.aspx

VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs, available at www.visitengland.org/access – including:

• Access Statements – A free online tool allowing businesses to create a description of their premises, to inform people with access needs.

• Online Disability Awareness Training – this online course was developed in partnership with DisabledGO, and is designed to help tourism businesses deliver a warm welcome and excellent service to disabled customers.

• VisitEngland also provides tourism information for people with physical and sensory needs at www.visitengland.com/accessforall

About the European Commission Grant:

 • In July 2014, VisitEngland’s application to the grant programme in the framework of the Preparatory Action, “Tourism and Accessibility for All” was approved by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.  €125,000 was awarded to the “Access for All” project over an 18-month period up to 31 March 2016 aimed at the design, implementation, promotion and marketing of accessible tourism guides.

• VisitEngland is one of seven successful project applicants, including other organisations from Germany, Italy and Spain.

• Link to the accessible tourism webpage on the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry website.

 Source: VisitEnglandhttp://www.visitengland.org/media/pressreleases/2014/european-commission-grant-to-fund-visitengland-access-for-all-project.aspx  .  Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @WTMLondon @RossCalladine @HelenGrantMP @JBerresfordVE

UN DSP forum on Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development

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The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) plans to organize a Forum for Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All at The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo on November 18, 2014.  The aim is to promote accessible tourism as an effective means for poverty eradication, employment generation and social inclusion of persons with accessibility needs.

DSPD is calling for nominations of initiatives (policies, projects and innovative solutions) that have proved successful in the promotion of the accessible tourism and sustainable development. Interested Governmental authorities, UN agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners are encouraged to send nominations by filling an online nomination form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/accessible-Tourism along with relevant supporting materials to ngo[@]un.org by August 30, 2014. Due to the high volume of nominations, please be as concise as possible. More detailed information may be requested by DSPD after the first-round contact.

The GSSD Expo is a United Nations system-wide global event for south-south and triangular cooperation. The Expo, launched in 2008, has become an annual event co-sponsored by and with more than 25 UN organizations, over 100 UN Member States and a large number of private sectors and civil society organizations.  Designed to showcase and scale up the impact of successful and evidence-based solutions developed and/or practiced by developing countries in addressing development issues, the Expo aims to help the global South realize its shared aspirations for achieving sustainable and equitable development through the sharing and transfer of the south-grown development solutions under innovative triangular and public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.  The GSSD Expo 2014 will be hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. United States, November 17-21.  The Expo is going to focus on sustainable development this year.

Source: http://unsdn.org/call-for-nomination-of-initiatives-that-successfully-promoted-accessible-tourism/#sthash.LrAoxoUP.dpuf  Follow on Twitter: @undesadspd @OAS_official

Transport for London: additional £75m to invest in access for disabled

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Regent St and area (12)

Transport for London (TfL) is the local government organisation responsible for most aspects of London’s transport system.  TfL invests billions to upgrade the Capital’s transport network in the areas of improving suburban railways, the cycling infrastructure, tackling vehicle emissions, and access to transport for people with disabilities.  Recently, TfL secured an additional £75m fund to make travel across the network more accessible. This investment will enable TfL to install new lifts over the next ten years, making more Tube stations step-free.   The 30 Crossrail stations in London will also all be step-free, as will 28 more Underground and Overground stations, which already had funding.

TfL have over a dozen guides for using London transport if you are disabled.  They include an audio tube guide, guides to tube toilets and how to avoid steps and stairs, large-print guides, and information about assisted transport (https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/12387.aspx).   TfL also has ‘how to’ films that show what it’s like travelling in London and the facilities and assistance available (https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/).

Follow on Twitter:  @TfLAccess @TfLOfficial 

WTM London Seminar on the Accessible Tourism Market

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World Travel Maarket logo

 

The World Travel Market (WTM www.wtmlondon.com/) in London is holding a seminar entitled “Preparing your Destination for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research and Practice”.  The seminar is presented by two leaders in the field, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT, http://www.accessibletourism.org), and Visit Flanders.  Building on the experiences of three leading European accessible tourism destinations, four National Tourism Organization (NTO) managers will explain the business strategies and practical tools they are using to serve this growing market.   In addition, results of three major new studies of Accessible Tourism in Europe: Demand, Supply and Skills Requirements, conducted for the European Commission, will be outlined and discussed by researchers, pointing to recommended policies and actions for NTOs and Destination Management Organizations (DMOs).

The session will be organised as a panel discussion, moderated by European Commission Tourism Policy Officer,  Antonella Correra, addressing these 3 main themes in turn:

 Where is the demand? Reaching the accessible tourism market.

 Mind the accessibility gap. Supply-side requirements and the delivery of accessible services.

 What are the skills requirements and how do we build capacity in the tourism sector to create accessible destinations and businesses?

Speakers include Ross Calladine, Head of Business Support, VisitEngland, Katrien Mampaey & Pieter Ghijsels, VisitFlanders, Belgium, Olaf Schlieper, German National Tourist Board, Graham Miller, School of Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK, Severine Guisset, Project Manager GfK, Belgium, Chris Veitch, Accessible Tourism Consultant, ENAT, and Kei Ito, Researcher, Valdani Vicari & Associati (VVA), UK.   

 The event will occur at ExCeL, London, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock on 4 November  from 16.00 to 17.30.   Source: ENAT website.  Follow on Twitter: @WTM_London @EUaccesstourism @VisitFlanders @VisitEngland @ChrisGVeitch @GermanyTourism @SHTMatSurrey @GfKBelgium

Melbourne and Olympic Parks Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2014-2017

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The Melbourne and Olympic Parks (M&OP) have released their Diversity and Inclusion Plan, 2014-2017.  The parks – with a number of ovals, courts, and arenas – cover 40 hectares and host an extensive range of events such as the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, other major sporting events, and cultural events (for example, concerts by Andrea Botcelli, The Rolling Stones, and Miley Cyrus).   The Plan is based on six key customer focused objectives.  These are that people of all abilities:

1). Can navigate around M&OP

2). Have easy access to all information about M&OP

3). Can enjoy events and functions with their family and friends

4). Have access to the full range of seating options

5). Will be treated as equal and valuable guests in all dealings with M&OP, and finally, that

6). M&OP will leverage its accessible conference facilities to actively promote its expertise in conferences for all abilities.

The plan goes on to detail what strategies will be used to achieve these objectives.  These include the creation of enhanced accessible wayfinding and navigational information on site and online, working with transport providers to enhance accessible public transport to venues, and improving accessible seating and enhance the booking procedure to include total information about accessible seating.

M&OP are to consider a new conference facility strategy to market their facilities to the global disability conference market.  We say that if they do in fact carry out their access enhancement programme, marketing by M&OP should extend beyond this market as all conferences – no matter the subject – are attended by a certain percentage of people who have disabilities who would appreciate fully accessible facilities.

Source: M&OP.

New Dubai hotel has purpose built accessible rooms

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Dubai cityscape

United Arab Emirates headquartered TIME Hotels Management will manage a new five-star hotel located close to Dubai Healthcare City in Oud Metha as the emirate targets growth in the number of medical tourists visiting the city.  Two rooms per floor will be specifically designed to be accessible to people with disabilities – a first for the city, according to the company.  Under development by Awtad Investment Company, the AED200 million hotel is set to open in 2016 and will offer guests a choice of two restaurants, a coffee shop, gymnasium, swimming pool, spa and meeting space.  “Dubai plans to position the emirate as a global medical tourism destination by 2020 with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) targeting 500,000 medical tourists with expected revenues of AED2.6 billion. To support this ambitious strategy it is imperative that Oud Metha’s hospitality capacity is enhanced as the area is currently underserviced in terms of hotel rooms,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels.

The DHA is targeting a broad spectrum of treatment-seeking visitors including nationals from the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) and South Asian medical tourists, which, according to Awadalla, is a fit with TIME Hotels’ own sales and marketing strategy.

Source: Arabian Business. Follow on Twitter: @ArabianBusiness @TIMEHotelsUAE

UK CAA tightens information rules for disabled passengers

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Plane in flight

The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently set tougher requirements on airports and airlines operating flights to and from the UK concerning information they must provide disabled passengers.  Requirements concern making essential information available to consumers in an accessible format. Information should be provided on a single web page one click away from the home page of the operator’s website or on webpages directly accessible from a single ‘landing’ webpage one click away from the home page.  Content should be presented in a clear and easy to understand way and accessible for passengers with impairments such as blindness or low vision, deafness or hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, restricted movement, photosensitivity or any combination of these.

Airports must publish information on the following: assistance provided at the airport and how to obtain this assistance; layout of the airport; quality standards and airport security; handling of mobility equipment and assistance dogs; telephone number and opening hours of the airport’s helpline for enquiries from Passengers with Reduced Mobility and other disabilities; and information on how to complain.  They must also provide information on safety restrictions; seating on-board; fitness to fly; when a carer will be required; accessibility and use of lavatories; and compensation for damaged or lost mobility devices.

“This is a giant leap forward in terms of quality, quantity, and accessibility of information available to passengers with disabilities,” Reduced Mobility Rights Director Roberto Castiglioni said. “In a perfect world, we would like to see information made available to consumers in a printed format at PRM lounges and assistance desks across airports.”

Airports and airlines have until 31st October 2014 to comply with the new requirements, or they may face formal enforcement action to ensure compliance and/or face a penalty or court injunction.

Source: Reduced Mobility Rights.  Follow on Twitter: @UK_CAA @ReducedMobility

Accessibility on VIA Rail Canada

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Picture of a VIA Rail train from their website

VIA Rail Canada is that country’s national rail service. It operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500 km network, transporting  nearly four million passengers annually. VIA Rail recently announced that the Canadian train now includes a newly renovated Park car featuring an accessible cabin designed for people with disabilities. The new accessible cabin for two was designed following extensive research of accessibility requirements within the transportation industry. In total, four Park cars used on the Canadian will be reconfigured to include a fully accessible cabin. “VIA Rail is committed to pursuing the improvement of accessibility on all its services. We are proud to now offer a cabin on board the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver with a level of comfort designed specifically for our mobility reduced passengers,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail Canada, “from Halifax to Vancouver, VIA Rail is able to accommodate persons with disabilities on board all its trains.”

The newly reconfigured Park cars are amongst many other initiatives undertaken by VIA Rail to improve the accessibility of its services.  Over the past few years, VIA Rail has invested in building new accessible stations and renovating stations in order to improve the accessibility of its facilities.

The corporation has also improved accessibility to its rolling stock on other routes. Renaissance cars, used on the Ocean (Montreal–Halifax), were reconfigured to include an Economy class car wheelchair tie-down, an accessible bathroom and a fully accessible sleeper cabin on each departure. Furthermore, each Renaissance Economy class car was modified to offer seating for passengers travelling with a service animal, and fold-up armrests were installed on 2 two-person seats as well as 4 individual alley seats.  Two rail diesel cars (RDC) were recently modified for accessibility, one of which is currently in use on the Sudbury-White River route. VIA Rail also has an accessible Economy class car on each of its LRC train consists.  As well, VIA Rail’s web site at viarail.ca was optimized in 2012, enabling people with disabilities to better access information on the site.

Source: VIA Rail.  Follow on Twitter: @VIA_Rail

 

EC call for “Tourism Accessibility for All” submissions

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Logo EU Enterprise and Industry Twitter logo

The European Commission Enterprise and Industry call for submissions in “Tourism Accessibility for All” will close on the 21st October 2014.  The call implements the Commission’s 2010 Communication on tourism, with particular reference to the diversification of European cultural/industrial tourism and accessible tourism.  It is also part of the third and last year of two Preparatory Actions proposed by the European Parliament and approved by the EU budgetary authority, respectively on “Transnational Tourism Products” and “Tourism Accessibility for All”.

The Fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management  theme concerns supporting the development and provision of Accessible Tourism “Capacity Building Schemes” for tourism managers and entrepreneurs. Its ultimate purpose is to encourage the uptake of business practices and strategic planning which mainstream accessibility and “Universal Design” priorities in the tourism sector. Universal Design (often called inclusive design) is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centred design of everything with everyone in mind, including older people, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities.

Follow on twitter: @EU_enterprise

New accessible services map on Pantou

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Woman in a wheelchair on a boat Thanks to Pantou

Pantou.org – The European Accessible Tourism Directory – now has a map view of accessible services. Pantou (Greek for “Everywhere”) provides information about suppliers of accessible tourism services in all European Union and Accession countries, as well as suppliers such as travel agents and tour operators who provide accessible services to Europe-inbound customers.  The Directory makes it easier for tourists with any kind of access needs to find what they are looking for when planning a visit.  It also promotes European accessible tourism suppliers, showing places to go and things to do – in safety and with convenience and comfort.  Suppliers who are listed on Pantou provide a wide variety of tourism services, including accommodation, facilities, transport, tours, venues and attractions that are designed to be inclusive and accessible for people who have a disability, long-term health condition or other specific accessibility requirements.  Registration on the site of accessible tourism suppliers is free.

The website is supported by the European Union Commission and managed by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT http://www.accessibletourism.org/).  Follow on Twitter: @Pantou_tourism @EUaccesstourism @EU_Commission

Conference: Innovative approaches to accessibility and heritage protection in Accessible Tourism

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S Cardif Bay 038

The European Foundation Centre (EFC  http://www.efc.be/news_events/Pages/SAVE-THE-DATE!-Accessible-Tourism-Innovative-approaches-between-accessibility-and-heritage-protection0624-3730.aspx ) will hold a conference at the European Economic and Social Committee venue, Brussels examining approaches to accessibility and heritage protection in accessible Tourism.  The meeting will be held on 5/12/14, and will focus on four aspects of access and heritage protection, namely, services, partnerships, cultural heritage, and technological solutions.  Because tourism is seen as an important source of growth for the economy of Europe, investment in the accessible tourism sector will benefit everyone.  The conference will tackle the issue of challenges in protecting historical heritage while making it accessible to all.  Examples from the work of the League of Accessible and Historical Cities (LAHC http://www.lhac.eu/ ) will illustrate the discussion. LACH is a practical and innovative project carried out in the framework of the European Foundation Center Consortium of Foundations on Human Rights and Disability, which has been implemented in six European cities.  In these cities, eleven foundations are collaborating with local and national authorities, civil society, architects, and experts to improve the accessibility and protection of historical heritage.

Follow on Twitter @The_EFC

New app to help Blind navigate London transport

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Little India 057

A new phone app being developed by London charity The Royal London Society for Blind People (RSLB http://www.rlsb.org.uk/and digital product studio ustwo (http://ustwo.com/ )  could help blind and vision-impaired passengers by using Bluetooth iBeacons to map out London’s transport systems, writes Kate O’Sullivan in The Londonist (http://londonist.com/2014/08/new-transport-app-for-vision-impaired-londoners.php).  For many vision-impaired Londoners, difficulty navigating the capital’s huge and complex network of busy Tube, bus and rail systems can be a permanent barrier.  The new Wayfindr app will use existing Bluetooth iBeacon technology (BLE) to digitally map out locations. The beacons send out an electronic pulse that allow it to locate the user by comparing signal strengths. Once it has this information, it can send out directions through bone-conducting headphones which carry sound to the inner ear through the skull, making navigating transport systems solo possible for vision impaired passengers. Bone-conducting headphones sit on your cheek, meaning that you are still able to hear what is going on around you: essential if you are vision-impaired.

Transport for London (TfL) already offers assistance to blind or vision-impaired passengers by meeting them at ticket barriers and arranging for someone to meet them at the other end, and at any interchange. It’s a process that can easily involve three, four or more members of staff. This ‘turn up and go’ system is a welcome change to the old one, which required passengers to book in advance for assistance, and communication often breaks down between stations, leaving people stranded.

There is still site testing to be done and, for the new app to be implemented successfully, iBeacons would need to be installed across London’s vast transport network, starting with the Tube. This will clearly come at substantial cost. For it to become a reality, TfL needs to jump on board and fully support this new project, says O’Sullivan.

Source:  adapted from the Londonisthttp://londonist.com/2014/08/new-transport-app-for-vision-impaired-londoners.php .  Follow on Twitter: @Londonist @ustwo @RLSBcharity

Yorkshire tourist attractions praised for accessibility

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Silver Travel Advisor logo from their website

A number of Yorkshire tourist attractions have been praised for being accessible to older travellers. The National Railway Museum, in York, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, near Harrogate, Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, Ampleforth Abbey, near Helmsley and Malton’s Eden Camp Museum, all received plaudits from Silver Travel Advisor which is a review and advice website for mature travellers.

Silver Travel Advisor managing director Debbie Marshall is very impressed with the level of consideration and detail that Yorkshire’s tourist attractions have gone to in order to accommodate older or less able guests.   “Many of them offer mobility scooters, lifts and ramps, and all the sites visited have gone to great lengths to ensure the comfort and welcome of the UK’s aging population” she said.

Silver Travel Advisor is a website run by a team of mature travel industry professionals.  Members can join for free and are invited to contribute to the site’s growing collection of impartial mature travel reviews, travel advice and travel tips – all written exclusively by and for mature travellers.

Follow on Twitter: @SilverTravelAd @Welcome2Yorks