Travelling for the blind, visually impaired

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Shynx and pyramid in Egypt

Travel, especially independent travel, is one of the pleasures that many might think becomes unavailable after vision loss. After all, navigating unfamiliar locations is something that can be complicated enough already for anyone no matter their level of sightedness, and vision loss can be an extra hurdle.  However, it’s far from an insurmountable obstacle, writes the San Diego Center for the Blind (SDCB).  Travel and tourism are becoming more accessible all the time as businesses and destinations realize the sense (not to mention the cents!) of offering accommodations such as adapted menus, guide services, and more. And there are many travel companies that cater almost exclusively to people with disabilities, including blindness or low vision (VIs). The SDCB describes two USA-based travel companies that specialize in tours for VIs ( Mind’s Eye Travel, Outta Sight Travel) and one from Denmark (VisionOutdoor ).

The SDCB blog also lists a company specialising in VI travel from the UK.  There are some 157,000 people registered blind in Britain, and 155,000 registered visually impaired (VIs). Only 8% were born with their condition.  When it comes to holidays, beyond travelling with friends and relatives, people with vision disability have shockingly few options, writes Jon Henley in The Guardian.   There is however, Traveleyes, a company set up by Amar Latiff, a 36-year-old Glasgow-born entrepreneur  seven years ago. Amar has been without 95% of his sight since his first year at university, thanks to an incurable eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.   Not all clients come from Britain: 30% of Traveleyes’s VIs come from abroad, mainly North America, Australia and New Zealand.   Traveleyes pairs up sighted people and people with visual impairments who may or may not have known each other beforehand. The sighted travellers provide descriptions and guidance in exchange for reduced fares, and the pairings rotate daily, so meeting new people is built right into the tour.

For the blind business traveller (or any traveller with vision loss), there is also online help on how to manage negotiating airports more effectively (J.J. Meddaugh), and what to expect when going through airport security (Janet Ingber).

 

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Cashel town Ireland working since 2006 to improve accessible tourism – with no budget

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Logo from Cashel Gold Star website showing ruined castle

Cashel heritage town in County Tipperary is not unlike many other Irish towns, with its small streets and old buildings, and tricky navigation for people with limited mobility.  Anne Bradshaw, a Development Worker with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was tasked to improve accessibility in Cashel.  The project began in 2006 driven by concerns that people weren’t able to fully participate in the local community.  Issues were broken down into four pillars: access, awareness, social participation, and transport.  With 96% of respondents in Cashel citing lack of awareness as a problem, they decided to focus on that first.   With the ultimate aim of involving everybody in the Cashel community, they set about assembling a task force and then contacted private and public businesses, the local council, and other organisations.

With no budget, funding and volunteer help was sourced throughout the process in the Cashel Gold Star project.  The Cashel Gold Star Disability Task Group aims to  improve awareness and integration of people with disabilities and to assist the community in ensuring all premises and activities are accessible and welcoming to all.  Because Cashel is a tourist destination, the  Task Group highlight in particular the benefits and attractions of the town for visitors with disabilities.

Many heritage sites in Cashel cannot be changed structurally, so alternative solutions were sought.  For example, in some places ramps were put in place, or internal walls removed to allow better access.  The whole community was involved, including children in the local schools, who designed logos etc.  Information was given to businesses about guide dogs, acquired brain injury, and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of disability, and they were approached about the changes they could undertake to be more accessible.  There are now accessible menus in Cashel, which can be listened to by people or read in Braille or in large clear print.  To achieve a gold star for access (or a silver or bronze), businesses are visited by the task group to see how accessible they are, and what changes need to take place. Staff participate in disability awareness training.  So far, there have been 280 participants. The aim is to bring the project to the stage where it is able to self-maintain.

So successful was the project that it has been rolled out to Tipperary Town and Wexford town “It is a general programme that can work anywhere,” said Bradshaw.  It’s not about what’s really wrong, it’s about highlighting what’s right.

City of Madrid promotes accessible tourism

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Exterior of Royal Palace Madrid

Madrid (Spain) has made a strong commitment to making tourism accessible for everyone.  A history of what Madrid has done in the last ten years in order to advance accessible tourism is available here.

Recently, the city published its 6th Accessible Tourism Guide to Madrid. This publication offers up-to-date, detailed information on the accessibility of a wide range of tourist attractions in the city, including 161 accommodations, 129 places of interest (such as museums, restaurants and theatres), as well as seven emblematic routes for exploring the Spanish capital.  It is part of Madrid’s 2012-2015 Strategic Tourism Plan.  The guide provides information on accessibility – gathered in situ by experts from the State Representative Platform of the Physically Challenged (PREDIF).  It is available on CD, can be accessed via the city of Madrid’s official tourism portal, and can be accessed on mobile phones thanks to the Tur4all app, promoted by PREDIF.

A free app also provides accessibility information on more than 1,500 tourist establishments throughout Spain.   It allows searches for information on nearby establishments, their distance from the user, and how to get to them.   Search criteria can be personalized, and places of interest can be bookmarked.

Accessible Tourism initiatives have been made possible through the support of PREDIF, Fundacion Vodafone Espana, the Region of Madrid Federation of Associations of Persons with Physical and Organic Disabilities (FAMMA-Cocemfe Madrid),  Fundacion ONCE (Spanish Organization for the Blind), the Federation of Organizations in Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (FEAPS-Madrid), the Region of Madrid Federation for the Deaf (FESORCAM) and the State Centre for Personal Autonomy and Technical Aids (CEAPAT).

The Guide is not the only initiative through which Madrid makes it easier for everyone to visit the capital city. Madrid is also the first city in Spain to have a tourist office (its main Tourist Centre, located in Plaza Mayor) awarded the Universal Accessibility certification by the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR). This accessibility system, introduced in 2010 and upgraded annually, covers not only the physical accessibility of a location, but also of the services provided at the Tourist Centre.  The Centre has a high-relief map in Braille showing the services available, a description of them, and their location. There are also many informative signs designed with large text and contrasting colors to make them easier to understand. Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau is committed to offering a standardized tourist service accessible to all.

Podotactile bands have been installed for persons with visual disabilities, along with hip supports for persons with reduced mobility and a magnetic loop that reduces background noise to make it easier to communicate with persons that have impaired hearing. The Centre also has a Spanish sign language service, available every day of the year, and the staff at all tourist centers and information points are specially trained in the protocols for assisting persons with disabilities.

Another initiative that reflects the city’s standing commitment to accessible tourism is the creation and adaptation of guided tours for persons with disabilities. Since 2004, the Official Guided Tours Program has been both increased and enhanced by a number of standardized guided routes available to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, such as the three “Essential Madrid” tours, as well as the creation of free guided tours specially adapted for persons with physical, visual, hearing or intellectual disabilities.

Source: Mainly eTurboNews

Spain’s National Parks improve access for people with disabilities

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Wheelchair visitor from Spain Info website

Following on from many recent developments in accessible tourism in Spain (for example, see here,  here, and here), that country is working to make sure its National Parks offer nature for all. Installations are being adapted for people with disabilities, including adapting information panels and leaflets for the blind, having handrails and double-height windows, and having guides who use sign language.  More spacious facilities have been developed, paths have non-slip compact materials that are non-reflective, and trails are suitable for all.

Spain has fourteen national parks with a total of over 325,000 hectares.  The Spanish office of Europarc (the European Federation of Nature Reserves and National Parks) has published a catalogue of good practices carried out in Spain’s parks. These initiatives have removed barriers and continue to operate to make Spain’s National Parks a natural resource for everyone to enjoy.

The Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote, one of the seven Canary Islands, is an excellent example of an accessible park. Improvements carried out have made the park into a volcanic paradise which is accessible to anyone with a disability. Educational material includes information in Braille in several languages, and audiovisual productions incorporate sign language.  In Tenerife, also in the Canary Islands, the Teide National Park, which has UNESCO World Heritage designation, has a guide service for disabled people. By booking in advance, disabled people can discover the park’s huge biodiversity and enjoy spectacular views of the Teide from its viewing point. The Tablas de Daimiel park in Castile–La Mancha offers a similar service. Its La Laguna observatory adapts each group visit according to members’ disabilities.  The Picos de Europa National Park in the Region of Asturias has a room called ‘the cave’, where visitors can experience the different sounds and textures to be found in the ecosystems of the park. At the Sierra Nevada National Park in the province of Granada, Andalusia, you can recreate the realities of nature at a range of workshops on astronomy, ecology, textile production… all adapted for the disabled.

Some of  Spain’s National Parks offer direct vehicular access, such as Doñana (Andalusia), which also has UNESCO World Heritage designation, and Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici Park, in Catalonia.

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.

Access to museums, attractions for Blind, visually impaired and how to improve it

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Authors Joe Strechay and Tara Annis have written an article on access to museums and parks for patrons who are Blind or visually impaired on the Access World website.   They point out that museums and parks in the USA have made great strides in accessibility for such patrons.  The use of audio descriptions, GPS devices, and other accessible technologies, along with exhibit design improvements and better information sharing among cultural and educational institutions, have made these resources increasingly enjoyable and accessible.  They list and describe organizations dedicated to improving access to cultural Institutions, and list accessibility devices and strategies used in cultural institutions (Durateq from Softeq, guidePORT System from Sennheiser, the Tourmate System, push-button audio boxes, and tactile representations). Suggestions are given from people with vision loss as to how museums and parks can improve accessibility.  They include:

  1. Braille signage formatted correctly and placed in appropriate, easily discoverable locations.
  2. Audio descriptions, large print, and Braille to provide the same information as the standard print formats.
  3. Signs describing artwork or exhibits, visual displays, and electronic signage should be large and use large sans-serif fonts with highly contrasting colours.
  4. Audio-described tours using portable access devices provide navigation that allows the patron to move around when listening to descriptions.
  5. Museum and park staff trained to effectively interact and communicate with people with disabilities, including those with vision loss, and should be trained in the access devices used in their institutions.
  6. Objects such as sculptures placed in front of high-contrast backgrounds to make them easier to see.
  7. Lighting designed to reduce glare on exhibits and works of art.
  8. Museums provide access through senses beyond sight. Some museums have representations in a smaller tactile version to allow patrons to feel the shapes and design in specific paintings.

The article goes on to recommend a number of USA cultural institutions and attractions accessible to visitors who are Blind or visually impaired, and discusses the future of audio description.

Links:  Accessibility devices and strategies currently  used in cultural institutions to increase access for #Blind and visually  impaired patrons http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw130206

Accessibility suggestions for museums and parks from people with vision Loss http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw130206

Recommended cultural institutions and attractions for visitors who are #Blind or visually impaired http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw130206

 

UK: Roman Baths win award for creating, improving access for people with a variety of disabilities

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Roman Baths at Bath UK

UK.  The South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2011/12 have praised Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths for the improved accessibility it offers all visitors.  The Romans Baths received a “Highly Commended” in the Access for All award section in recognition of recent development work carried out by the Council to improve access in a wide range of ways and make the experience more inclusive for people with a wide range of different needs.  Councillor Cherry Beath (Lib-Dem,  Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Physical
accessibility at the Roman Baths has improved enormously with the installation of two new lifts and a complete change in the way visitors can move around the site. Understanding of the ancient monument has also become easier for our visitors with new displays and improved interpretation throughout, and there is a wide range of visual prompts that everyone can recognise.

“We have new interpretation for blind and visually impaired visitors with many tactile exhibits. There is a dedicated British Sign Language audio guide, an inclusive personal audio guide in eight languages, and tours for English and French speaking children. The judges even took into account the inclusive way that we cater for people with particular dietary needs in the Pump Room restaurant.”

International Global Disability Rights Library increases content

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Global Disability Rights library website banner

The Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) – on which Access Tourism New Zealand has a link – now provides more content than ever. There are now nine information portals which provide materials on topics relevant to the needs of Disabilities Organizations, government officials, professionals, grassroots advocates, and others working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. An on-line version of the library is available. An off-line version is also stored inside eGranary Digital Libraries for delivery to developing countries where Internet access is limited. The GDRL team is now no longer accepting applications to receive an off-line eGranary for 2012. However, organizations interested in receiving notification of future opportunities can submit their full contact information here. The GDRL project is a joint initiative of the U.S. international Council on Disabilities and the University of Iowa WiderNet Project supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Two-volume publication on international accessible tourism includes New Zealand chapter

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Two new text books on accessible tourism are available through the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) from Channel View Publications. The first is “Concepts and Issues” (eds: Dimitrios Buhalis and Simon Darcy), which sets out to  explore and document the current theoretical approaches, foundations and issues  in the study of accessible tourism.  Professor Nigel Morgan, The Welsh Centre for Tourism Research states that this volume harnesses “the best conceptual  developments on the topic” and that it will “take accessible tourism and universal design debates into the mainstream of academic enquiryand industry practice“

The second volume is “Best Practice in Accessible Tourism” (eds: Buhalis, Darcy, and Ivor Ambrose).  It focuses on policy and best practice in accessible tourism, reflecting the ”state-of -the-art” as expressed in a selection of international chapters. It brings together global expertise in planning, design and management to inform and stimulate providers of travel, transport, accommodation, leisure and tourism services to serve guests with disabilities, seniors and the wider markets that require good accessibility. Chapter 8, written by Sandra Rhodda of Access Tourism New Zealand, describes the state of accessible tourism in this country.  Overall, the book gives ample evidence that accessible tourism organisations and destinations can expand their target markets as well as improve the quality of their service offering, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and expansion of business.  Accessible tourism is not only about providing access to people with disabilities but also it addresses the creation of universally designed environments that can support people that may have temporary disabilities, families with young children, the ever increasing ageing population as well as creating a safer environment for employees to work. Noel Scott, of the University of Queensland, Australia says that the volume “provides a ‘state-of-the-art” assessment of both theory and practice. This book establishes a new field of study and provides the benchmark against which other contributions will be judged. It integrates the work of all the key players and should be read by academics, managers and government policy makers.”

Access Guide to Leicester: Information Available Online or on Local TV

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Leicester City Council has joined online access guide DisabledGo to provide a guide
to Leicester for anyone who wants to know more about disabled access in the area.  The guide covers more than  1,000 venues including cinemas, hotels, parks, leisure centres, council offices, high street stores, restaurants, and tourist attractions, amongst other things.  The guide will enable people to find out not only whether venues have accessible toilets or parking close by but also specific details such as whether there are tactile or Braille markings in lifts or on doors, the dimensions of toilets, the positioning of fixtures and fittings, and whether they can request information in large print or Braille.

Commenting on the launch of the guide, Dr Gregory Burke, Chief Executive of DisabledGo noted that it will make a real difference to both residents and visitors to the City who have access concerns, empowering them to find services and venues that suit their own specific requirements.  The online guide will provide benefits for business too, helping them reach more customers by publicising the access they offer.

Current figures estimate that there are 11 million disabled people in Britain who spend £80 billion each year, numbers that every business should take notice of. All businesses that take part also receive Disability Awareness Manuals, designed as a 20 minute introduction to disability and access.

All of the information provided in the online version of DisabledGo-Leicester will also be available on the ‘Looking Local’ service on the red button on local TV, so that if people don’t have access to a computer at home, they can still get the information they need.

London, UK gearing up for Games by Increasing Hotel Access Capacity

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Hotel News UK reports that hoteliers throughout the United Kingdom have made strides to boost the number of accessible rooms in recent months as London gears up for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  In doing so, they hope to capitalize on the more than £2-billion (US$3.2-billion) tourist segment for disabled people.  There are more than 1,540 hotels and bed and breakfasts listed on the Government-backed Inclusive London website, which was launched in March 2011 to promote accessible rooms to all tourists visiting the city. There are a further 122 accessible hostels.

A lot of work has gone into improving accommodation access, says Ufi Ibrahim, CE of the British Hospitality Association.  “We’ve been working with tourism organization Tourism for All to raise awareness.  Many hoteliers in London have been doing sort of small quick fixes in order to enable some rooms to be usable for people who have accessibility problems—ramps, for example.”

Other changes are more long-term.   InterContinental Hotels Group, which has 294 accessible rooms in London, invested more than £12 million (US$19.3 million) seven years ago into its portfolio to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. The resulting efforts saw the inclusion of tactile signage and ceiling track hoists in select locations. IHG also requires all employees to undergo training programs on how to accommodate guests with disabilities, both during orientation and then once every six months for review.

By summer 2012, there will be 2,667 accessible rooms in London, 1,392 of which will be wheelchair friendly.  But with a potential market of 78 million American and 75 million European disabled visitors, friends and families according to VisitEngland, it is uncertain whether supply will meet demand, Ibrahim said. Hoteliers are ramping up development efforts in an attempt to do just that. Premier Inn plans to open four additional properties before the Games. The group also recently opened the London Stratford Premier Inn, the first among the company portfolio to offer fixed tracker hoisting mechanisms. Hilton Worldwide encourages development of accessible rooms through a flexible room layout, said Alex Humphrey, senior manager of safety and security for the U.K. and Western Europe. “Each hotel has the ability to customize rooms with accessibility equipment to increase the number of accessible rooms, in addition to providing dedicated equipment for those guests with hearing impairments,” he said.

Ontario: Macy’s Diner Leads the Way in Restaurant Menu Accessibility

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All businesses with at least one employee will have to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Customer Service Standard taking effect Jan. 1, 2012.  These standards include that businesses are required to develop customer service policies and procedures for serving people with disabilities, to train staff, volunteers and contractors to serve customers with disabilities, to let customers with disabilities provide feedback on how their needs have been met, to establish a process to respond and take action on any complaints, and to have a policy on allowing people to use their own assistive devices (e.g. screen reader, cane, wheelchair, oxygen tank) to access a business’s goods and services.  This includes accessing menus.  Currently, some Ontarian restaurants offer large print or braille menus, but these can not be read by all guests. Others put their menus on their website as a PDF, which is not accessible to some.  Still others put menus on Facebook – which is notoriously inaccessible.

Now Ontarian restaurateurs have a solution in aMENU  –  a website developed by Geoff Collis – where  participating restaurants can place their menus so that they can be accessed not only with assistive devices but portable devices such as mobile phones.   Menus can be read before a patron even gets to an establishment.   The first restaurant leading the way by participating is Macy’s Diner & Delicatessen in Mississauga.  Owner Hans Sturzenbecher has clearly understood the need for accessibility in all aspects of his establishment and is the first restaurateur to have his Accessible Menu coded for accessibility on the site so that Ontarians, visitors, or tourists with disabilities and mobile phone users can access it with their assistive devices either at home, en route or in the restaurant itself. Restaurant owners wishing to know more about this initiative can access a presentation, contact aMenu, or visit their website.

NZ Accessible Signage Guidlines Developed

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The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) has produced a set of best practice guidelines on accessible signage with the aim of ensuring signs are readable by blind, partially sighted and deafblind people. The RNZFB is New Zealand’s main provider of essential sight-loss services, and has 11,500 members.   Every year approximately 1,200 New Zealanders become RNZFB members after experiencing serious sight loss.

The new Accessible Signage Guidelines are free to download through the RNZFB website at www.rnzfb.org.nz/signage    The guidelines provide advice and technical specifications to make sure that clear print and braille signage is accessible. RNZFB Braille Awareness Consultant, Lisette Wesseling, says an accessible sign is one that everybody can read and understand, whether they read using sight or touch. “At least 11,500 New Zealanders are blind or partially sighted and 125,000 people over 40 have significant sight loss that affects their ability to do everyday tasks like reading.

“The information conveyed by signage is important to all people, including those with sight loss. Accessible signage says ‘you are welcome!’ and ‘your safety matters’,” Lisette says.  Any sign relating to a specific function or location in a building should have an accessible sign, for example a Fire Exit, or a Lift. Signs containing a large amount of information such as menus, patient advice, and detailed operating instructions may be more effective if produced in a braille or large print booklet.

It is hoped that business and organisations take advantage of these guidelines to help improve the accessibility of their environments.

What is an accessible sign?

An accessible sign is one that everybody can read and understand, whether they read using sight or touch. An accessible sign should have:

  • High colour-contrasted print which is raised on the surface of the sign plate.
  • The equivalent text in braille.
  • Raised pictures (pictograms) if appropriate. Pictograms alone are not enough, always use text as well.

For more information, continue reading……………

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Tennessee: Assessing for Access in Hospitality and Tourism

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Knoxville, Tennessee is looking to improve information about access to restaurants in the area.  The Access Knoxville Project is a partnership between the University of Tennessee and the disAbility Resource Center, and trained volunteers to survey local restaurants using a survey form as a guide.  They looked to see how “friendly” restaurants are  to people with all types of disabilities, said Nathan Hulling, a disability advocate for DRC. The Access Knoxville survey has a standard rating system of Limited, Good, and Wow access, and so far, results are in for thirteen restaurants.   Restaurants get a letter from Hulling explaining their rating and sometimes uggesting changes.  Those with a Wow access rating receive an Accessibility Certificate, which they can display.

The Knoxville project is modelled after a similar program in Nashville, whose key  partners included Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, a project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities which donated staff
time and office supplies. The Nashville Conventions and Visitors Bureau agreed
to post restaurant accessibility ratings on their website – so far there are 24 such
ratings
. Since 2010, the project has xpanded its website to include accessibility-friendly information about hotels, transportation services, and entertainment attractions, in addition to restaurants.

 

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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USA: Conference, Workshops on Access and Inclusion for People with Disabilities in the Cultural Environment

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Banner from the LEAD conference brochure showing a family group

The John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts and partners are holding a conference on Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) in August.  LEAD has been engaging cultural administrators from around the world in a conversation on accessibility, disability and inclusion for more than 10 years. Two days of conference are preceded by three days of relevant pre-conference workshops. The conference is aimed at cultural organizations such as museums, galleries, and theatres, and at state and local governments, universities and colleges and anyone involved in the arts with an interest in access for people with disabilities. It will consider a broad range of access topics, such as web accessibility, social media, captioning in theatres, the Americans with Disabilities Act, access evaluations, staff and volunteer training, effective access planning, effective communication for people who are blind/low vision, and/or deaf/hard of hearing, audio description, funding, grants, and much more.  LEAD is a professional network focused on expanding the breadth and scope of accessibility services and programming across the USA and around the world. The network:

  • explores practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments;
  • communicates information about arts and accessibility, and;
  • shares resources and knowledge among professionals in the field of accessibility.

 A variety of helpful tip sheets can be found here.

Call for Papers: Tourism, Leisure, Arts, Recreation, Sports, and Disability Inclusion

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Journal

The Annals of Leisure Research is seeking papers for a special issue that examines the inclusion and citizenship of people with disability in “cultural life” (recreation, leisure, the arts, sport, or tourism).  The purpose is to:

a)      clarify what the terms inclusion and citizenship mean in different cultures;

b)      to place inclusion and citizenship to ‘cultural life ‘(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) across discourses relating to economic, social and environmental contexts that affect people with disabilities participation; and

c)       to discuss the terms inclusion and citizenship from the ideological frameworks of government, researchers, providers of service or disability advocacy groups.

Submissions are sought from the consumer (demand), providers (supply) and coordination/regulation (government) sector perspectives. The guest editors invite interested researchers to contribute theoretical, methodological or empirical papers related to the theme of this Special Issue. The topics of potential papers include but are not limited to:

  • The role of inclusion and citizenship in the construction of ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) environments and experiences;
  • What is the impact of inclusion/exclusion on the person and their experiences?;
  • The social and/or cultural construction of inclusion in ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) activities and experiences;
  • The role of inclusion in the construction of cultural, sub cultural and personal identities of different societies;
  • The role of inclusion in the construction and/or deconstruction of the intersection with gendered, ethnic and sexual identities within the experience of ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism);
  • How experiences of inclusion compare and contrast between different dimensions of disability (e.g. mobility, vision, hearing, cognitive, sensitivities etc.);
  • The impact of inclusion and citizenship within space and place making

Important Dates:

  • Abstract deadline: 30 June 2011 to Jerome(at)dal.ca
  • Notification of acceptance of abstracts deadline: 1 August 2011
  • Submission for double-blind reviewing process: 30 November2011
  • Review Process Notification: 30 January  2012
  • Special issue publication: June or December 2012

For submission guidelines and more, continue reading……………..

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Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island New York has Excellent Access Facilities

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Historic Richmond Town website banner

Historic Richmond Town is New York City’s living history village and museum complex. Visitors can explore the diversity of the American experience, through the lives of ordinary people, who struggled, survived, and thrived from the colonial period to the present.   Many of the buildings are original to the site, while others have been relocated from throughout Staten Island, New York. The complex has excellent access facilities.  There are designated parking spaces, American Sign Language Tours on the first Sunday of every month, Braille way-finding labels on all floors, handling of certain objects for the visually impaired, and full accessibility to wheelchair users.  Service animals are welcome in the musem and all historic buildings, and there are accessible restrooms.

New Research Programme Area in Access Tourism at NZTRI/AUT a First for NZ

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NZTRI

In a first for New Zealand, The New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology has created a Research Programme Area in Access Tourism headed by Sandra Rhodda. 

 NZTRI’s Access Tourism programme aims to research and develop Access Tourism in NZ.  Access Tourism is tourism, travel, and hospitality for people with permanent or temporary disabilities, seniors, parents with strollers, and any person with a need for improved access.  This is an interdisciplinary research area that addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by Access Tourism.

The Access Tourist already represents a sizeable proportion of our tourism markets.  Between 17 and 20% of the population in our main markets already report a disability, and this percentage is bound to grow because the large Baby Boomer cohort is ageing and disability increases with age.  Those aged 45 or older already comprise almost half of our domestic and international visitors (and over 70% of our cruise ship visitors).

Areas of interest include:

  • Research and policy development
  • Understanding the Access Tourism market
  • Awareness promotion and education of government and industry to the potential of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism product development and marketing in NZ
  • Promotion of cooperation in a developing Access Tourism sector, including in the public and private sector
  • Access Tourist satisfaction and motivation
  • Economic and social benefits of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism as an important factor in tourism sustainability
  • Relationship of Access tourism to Health, Wellness, and Medical Tourism
  • Opportunities for Access Tourism legacy development around major events such as RWC2011

Some Accessibility Symbols and Rating Systems From Around the World

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Guest Article by Veroniek Maat, MSc Leisure, Tourism and Environment, The Netherlands

Access Symbols

The necessity of developing an accessible tourism industry is recognized by a wide range of tourism academics and is increasingly recognized by international organizations such as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). A part of this development will be the creation of easily-recognized universal system of accessibility symbols.  This report looks at a wide range of accessibility communication systems currently being used in ten countries from Europe, North America, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. An evaluation of each systems shows that organizations often use the same symbols but imbue them with different meanings and add other symbols to imply more details about the exact accessibility level. Additionally, assessments of venue accessibility are done using different rating systems and are confusing in practice. The majority of organizations do not clearly indicate who judged the level of accessibility and for this reason the accuracy of the assigned symbols may not be verifiable. Organizations that do state the assessors refer to trained volunteers and students or the venue occupiers themselves.   For the full report, go to the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute website.