Science Museum London tips for improving access

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Science Museum London website banner showing exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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

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

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

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

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

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

New UNWTO manual: Accessible Tourism for All

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UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All Front Cover

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

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

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

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

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

Improving access for visitors and locals in York UK

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 York Minster

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

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

Follow on Twitter: @MakeItYork @DisabledGo @CityofYork

Scandic Hotels Germany wins accessibility award

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Accessible room Scandic Hotels website

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

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

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

Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @Messe_Stuttgart

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

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Canadian Flag

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

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

The standard applies to the following terminals and carriers:

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

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

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

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

VisitEngland continues its “Access For All” project

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

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

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

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

The work is organised into 4 work packages:

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

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

Basque developing accessible tourism for all

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Flag of the Basque Country

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

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

Seven European countries join forces to develop accessible tourism

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

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

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

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

Lonely Planet: New Accessible Melbourne ebook

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Lonely Planets Accessible Melbourne front cover street scene

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

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

Website Accessibility: A New Frontier Of Inclusion

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

Website front page with audio

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

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

VisitWales, Welsh tourism embrace Disabled Access Day

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Welsh flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sams Tower 156

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

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

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

Asia Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism to get country chapters

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Hotel Hallway

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

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

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

Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

Japanese to expand access in preparation for Olympics, Paralympics

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Japan 251

The government of Japan plans to dramatically expand accessibility for people with disabilities at train stations, bus terminals and airports by 2020 in preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.  As part of the new basic transportation policy, an advisory body to the transport minister compiled a list of 56 items in need of improvement at these facilities.  They include barrier-free equipment and upgrades for wheelchair users, Braille notification signs for people with vision disabilities, toilets specially designed for easier access and platform sliding doors to prevent people from falling onto the tracks.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games return to Tokyo 50 years after first being hosted there.   Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee points out that Tokyo is the first ever city to have hosted both Games twice.  “ I hope that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will become known for further raising the profile of and enhancing Paralympic sports and sports for people with disabilities around the world,” said Mori.

Source: Asahi Shimbun @AJWasahi @Tokyo2020jp @Tokyo2020

UK Disabled Access Guide

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Dr Nick Almond is a UK Cognitive Neuropsychologist and author  living with cerebral palsy.  In this guest post, Nick talks about his reasons for setting up The Disabled Access Guide.   The guide aims to provide individuals who are less abled/wheelchair users and their enablers with information about access to public places across the UK. The guide is a work in progress, and people are encouraged to fill in their own reviews on venue access on the website or email Nick at nalmond944@aol.com.  You can follow Nick on Twitter at Twitter @DrNickMAlmond.

NickAlmond

Nick writes: As you can see in my video, I am quite severely disabled so I am in a wheelchair all the time and when I did my undergraduate degree my friends were asking me to go out to pubs and restaurants which I did not really know much about and were totally inaccessible and others did not have a toilet which was accessible or they were using the toilet for storage which really annoyed me. So I thought that there would be somewhere online which you could look up venues and see if they were accessible or not, but all the sites which I’ve found were not very detailed and did not have enough information. So this meant that we used to have to phone up the places first and ask if I could get in and if they have a toilet which was working. If you can imagine going on a pub crawl with 20 other students to 20+ pubs then it would take a week to organise it.

Then I thought that I could widen the use of the website so that people can put a blog on it and that I can ask people to support certain things which I feel are discriminatory. So you will notice that there are success stories where we have campaigned for a toilet in a pub which has recently been refurbished and that had wheelchair access but the brewery did not build a accessible toilet, even though it was very easy to do so, so me and my MP got together and checked out the policy on disabled access and we showed that if somewhere is large enough and they have wheelchair access then they must accommodated for an accessible toilet. The other thing which I would like to do is to increase awareness of disability in two ways.  First, with my YouTube vlog so that people can see that just because someone has involuntary movements, is in a wheelchair and cannot speak very well (apart from my Yorkshire accent ;) ) they can be treated like a normal person. Second, I hope that companies will look at my website and understand what is important for having really good disabled access. For example, my local pub, The Lawnswood Arms, has not got a dropped curb where the disabled car parking space is at, and my website has pointed that out and the manager has picked up on that. He has promised me that there will be a dropped curb where it is needed within the next month, and that he hopes that this will increase the rating of the venue… Which is great!

I am hoping to cover the whole of the UK in time but obviously we need funding to keep it going because I have a group of researchers that are going around and assessing venues and writing up reports on them. Hopefully in time if we can attract more attention on the website then we will get sponsorship which will help to cover the cost of the research.    All the income that comes into the company goes straight to either research or maintaining the website so it is a not-for-profit organisation. It is really frustrating that the government will not fund this type of research if you are a private limited company or you have funding from elsewhere such as charities. I don’t know why this is the case because the government is not doing very much to provide access information for people with disabilities and in the UK there is a distinct lack of information for people with disabilities or people who care for people with disabilities to point out where they can go without any hassle.

UNWTO San Marino Declaration calls for universal accessibility in tourism

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Woman walking with a broken leg and crutches

Achieving universal accessibility throughout the tourism value chain is the main call for action of the San Marino Declaration of Accessible Tourism, adopted at the First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe (San Marino, 19-20 November 2014).  The conference addressed how to advance quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism with a special focus on cultural heritage and the use of smart technologies. Increased accessibility in tourism benefits people with disabilities and special needs while entailing important economic opportunities for the sector.   “Accessible Tourism for All ranks high amongst the ethical challenges we have identified and which require our permanent attention and guidance”, said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, opening the Conference. ”Advocating for and advancing universal access in travel and tourism is both a question of rights and a question of ethics, a matter of quality and respect, of freedom and non-discrimination”, he added.

The San Marino Declaration on Accessible Tourism was adopted unanimously, and called for all stakeholders to ensure universal accessibility in all the components of the tourism value chain. This includes the physical environment, the transportation system and information and communications channels, as well as to strengthen and engage public-private partnerships and other forms of cooperation among entities working in the field of universal accessibility.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai stressed that “People with disabilities and special needs should be able to actively take part in tourism just as any other traveller. Great strides have been made to advance universal accessibility, particularly in Europe, but there are still many opportunities to be seized. Accessibility for all depends much on the will of all players to work together, and we at UNWTO remain committed to advancing this fundamental agenda and implementing the necessary changes alongside our partners.”

While referring to the morphological features of the hilly mediaeval town of San Marino, the Minister of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Teodoro Lonfernini, pointed out that “San Marino is doing its best to make its territory accessible to as many visitors as possible, while also trying to enable an authentic travel experience to people with special needs”, adding that “if a country like the Republic of San Marino can achieve that, many other States should be able to follow the same path”.

The Conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino in collaboration with Village for All (V4A) and the ONCE Foundation of Spain.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @undesadspd @SanMarinoxTutti @Villageforall @Fundacion_ONCE @ RisiMarcelo

 

UK CAA new tougher airport, airline disabilities information provision requirements

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The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently set tougher requirements on airports and airlines concerning information they must provide disabled passengers (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html).   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.
  • the design of websites should take into consideration existing international guidelines on website accessibility
  • airports must publish information on the assistance provided at the airport and how to obtain this assistance;  information on the layout of the airport, on quality standards and airport security,  handling of mobility equipment and assistance dogs, the 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.

Airlines must publish 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 (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html). 

Airports and airlines have until 31st October 2014 to comply with the new requirements. The UK CAA told operators it may take formal enforcement action to ensure compliance under sections 86 and 87 of the Civil Aviation Act 2012. This may include imposing a penalty or seeking a court injunction against operators not in compliance with the new rules. 

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

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

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