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

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Visiting Barcelona with a disability

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Guest post: Since Mirjam Stibbe moved to Barcelona in 2005, she has seen more and more people visit the Mediterranean city.  Because a family member from The Netherlands with MS wanted to visit Stibbe, she began to look for appropriate accommodation for her.  Here she describes how this compelled her to start Barcelona-Enabled.

Barcelona Enabled tour group

I understand perfectly what the attraction of Barcelona is: the sea and beaches, delicious food, amazing architecture, vibrant cultural life, football, laid back atmosphere. Do you want me to go on? Working in tourism, I saw that Barcelona provides many possibilities to its visitors. There are great places to stay and there is so much to do and its so easy to get around in this small big city.

However, it is not always obvious to everyone how the city is very welcoming to people with access needs.    To organize your trip when you are physical impaired in a strange country is a challenge. You would like to make sure that you have your accessible needs covered. This is harder than it seems. Make some calls to some hotels and you will be told that the hotel has wheelchair accessible rooms. The hotel is obligated by law to have this, so another answer is unlikely.  But how unfortunate is it, when you arrive at your accommodation and there are 3 steps to get into the lobby, the lift is too small to fit your wheelchair, or the adaptations to the room is a lowered bathtub.

Coming from grey, cold Holland, my family loves to visit me in Barcelona. One family member has MS so I looked for appropriate accommodations.   This was harder than expected. I found very few places that had the minimal adaptations that were required.   And if you’re looking for a roll-in shower with a seat, sufficient space around your bed to turn your wheelchair or put a hoist, I was left with very few options.

This was the start of the initiative of Barcelona-Enabled, a service for the mobility impaired that want to enjoy a carefree holiday in the city.   I started making a selection of accommodation that are perfectly adapted and established good relationships with them so my clients would always get an excellent service. I also started organizing airport transport with wheelchair accessible vehicles with reliable providers. Barcelona-Enabled also offer mobility equipment (hoist, electric bed, shower chair, mobility scooter etc.), sightseeing tours in and around the city, and advice about how to enjoy stays.

When basic requirements such as these are met, people find that Barcelona is such an amazing easy city for wheelchair users. Most of the public transport is accessible, museums have great access and in summer there is a Red Cross service at the beach that helps people get into the water. Most sidewalks have lowered curbs, and adapted bathrooms can be found in the many bars in the city.

Stibbe can be contacted at Barcelona-Enabled: +34 68 505 2628; Follow on Twitter: @Benabled; eMail:  mirjam@barcelona-enabled.com;  www.barcelona-enabled.com

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

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 FITUR session on accessible tourism and technology

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Person with a disability using an iPhone image from UNWTO

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has for a number of years supported the facilitation of tourist travel by people  with disabilities as a vital element of any responsible and sustainable tourism development policy.   The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is one of several topics to be addressed at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid January 28-February 1.   FITUR is a global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound Ibero American markets.   It was attended by 9,083 exhibiting companies from 165 countries/ regions, 120,231 trade participants and 97,549 people from the general public in 2014.  Also present were 7,368 journalists from 60 countries, a turnout that demonstrates the importance of FITUR on the international circuit of tourism sector events.

The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is a session at FITUR organized by UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and PREDIF (Plataforma Representativa Estatal de Personas con Discapacidad Física) in collaboration with IFEMA and Vodafone España.  It will highlight good practices in the development and use of new technologies in the fields of travel, tourism and leisure. It will also address the major challenges for generalizing the use of these technologies in the various links of the accessibility chain in tourism.  New technologies can contribute to making the tourism experience more accessible and rewarding for everyone, including seniors, persons with disabilities and others with reduced mobility.   During the session, there will be a presentation of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All (UNWTO/ONCE Foundation/ENAT) by Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager, Ethics & Social Responsibility, UNWTO.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE @feriafitur @Predif_Estatal #FITUR2015

British Government bid to improve disabled access at sports stadiums

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Football goalie image in public domainThe UK government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain in what it hopes will be the largest ever survey of its kind.   Ministers are hoping thousands of Britain’s 12 million disabled people will give their views on everything from wheelchair access and disabled parking to accessible toilets, hearing loops and treatment by other supporters at live sporting fixtures. Organisers want to hear from fans of all sports – and in particular rugby, cricket, football, hockey, basketball, cycling and motor-racing.

“We know that lots of clubs, like Arsenal, are making improvements but more can still be done across sport to make stadiums more accessible and the match-day experience better for disabled fans” said Minister for Sport Helen Grant.  “This is what this survey is all about – giving disabled sports fans the chance to air their views so that we can help make watching live sport fantastic for them.”  Grant went on to say that the Commonwealth Games last year showed what is possible and how sport can cater brilliantly for disabled fans.  “I am confident that sports governing bodies will step up and deliver on this”, said Grant.

The survey can be done here: http://survey.dwp.gov.uk/index.php?sid=18657. Follow on Twitter: @dwppressoffice

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

Germany continues work to broaden and promote accessible tourism

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Accessible Tourism in Germany covers of two brochures from press release (2)

Germany: The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs promotes the further expansion of accessible tourism in Germany.  Their project “Tourism for All” was awarded the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e.V. in December.  With this project, the tourism industry can better adapt to the rapidly growing number of people needing better access, such as seniors, people with disabilities, or families with prams and luggage.   The main objective of the project is to introduce a nationwide uniform labelling system “Travel for All” in the next three years.   In future, all travellers, including those needing better access, can get reliable information about the tourist service provider and can use it for their travel decision.   To this end, there is a comprehensive database on the German National Tourist Board website (DZT) as well as on those of state marketing organizations.  Businesses along the entire service chain are recognized by Germany-wide criteria, rated, and certified.   In addition, providers receive access training.

The label “Tourism for All” has been developed over several years with the input and cooperation of  numerous organizations, the tourist associations state marketing organizations, and other stakeholders as part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics (2011-2014). There are already 10 states, a few regions,  and a hotel corporation on the system. Nearly 400 businesses were inspected using an extensive catalogue of criteria.   Support for Project V. is the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in cooperation with the Association for Tourism All Germany e. (NatKo).    For information on the project and the labelling system “Travel for All”, see www.reisen-fuer-alle.de.

Tourismus für Alle – ein Zukunftsmarkt

Das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium fördert den weiteren Ausbau des barrierefreien Tourismus in Deutschland – für das Projekt „Reisen für Alle“ erhielt das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. im Dezember den Zuwendungsbescheid. Mit dem Projekt soll sich die Tourismusbranche besser auf die stark wachsende Gruppe älterer, aktivitäts- und mobilitätseingeschränkter Menschen einstellen.

Hauptziel des Projektes ist, das bundesweit einheitliche Kennzeichnungssystem „Reisen für Alle“ in den nächsten drei Jahren einzuführen. Künftig sollen alle Reisenden, darunter auch Senioren, Menschen mit einer Behinderung oder Familien mit Kinderwagen und Gepäck, verlässliche Informationen über die touristischen Anbieter erhalten und diese für ihre Reiseentscheidung nutzen können. Dafür entsteht eine umfangreiche Datenbank, die im Internet auf den Seiten der Deutschen Zentrale für Tourismus (DZT) sowie den Seiten der Landesmarketing-Organisationen abgerufen werden kann. Betriebe entlang der gesamten touristischen Servicekette werden nach deutschlandweit einheitlichen Kriterien erfasst, bewertet und zertifiziert. Außerdem erhalten die Anbieter Schulungen.

Die Kennzeichnung „Reisen für Alle“ wurde in mehrjähriger Zusammenarbeit und Abstimmung mit zahlreichen Betroffenenverbänden sowie allen touristischen Verbänden, Landesmarketing-Organisationen und weiteren Akteuren im Rahmen eines vom Bundeswirtschaftsministerium geförderten Vorgängerprojektes von 2011 bis 2014 entwickelt. Inzwischen setzen bereits 10 Bundesländer, einige Regionen und auch eine Hotelkooperation das System ein. Knapp 400 Betriebe wurden mit dem umfangreichen Kriterienkatalog geprüft. Es gibt bereits eine Reihe guter Beispiele und Initiativen in verschiedenen Regionen, doch barrierefreie Tourismusangebote sind in Deutschland noch lange nicht flächendeckend zu finden.   Träger des Projekts ist das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in Kooperation mit dem Verein Tourismus für Alle Deutschland e. V. (NatKo).

Aktuelle Informationen zu dem Projekt und Kennzeichnungssystem “Reisen für Alle” finden Sie unter www.reisen-fuer-alle.de

Source: Press release.  Please forgive translation mistakes. Follow on Twitter: @BMWi_Bund

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

NZ: Whangarei Council improves access information about festival events

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Endless Summer Festival booklet image from Facebook page

Endless Summer Festival booklets

Whangarei is a district north of Auckland, New Zealand.   Whangarei’s Endless Summer Festival offers 109 great events listed in the Endless Summer Festival booklet, out now and available from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub and the Isite.    “Happening across the Whangarei District from January – Easter, and with some of the events being held on multiple days, this equates to 439 days of events in Whangarei over summer!,” said Venues and Events  Whangarei Marketing and Events Manager Rachel O’Gorman.  “Not only do we have more events, but this year a real effort has been made for as many events as possible to be accessible to everyone. Last year I attended a Whangarei District Council Disability Advisory Group meeting to find out how we can better assist the sector when it comes to events and providing information about them.  The group said providing accessibility information when an event was being publicised meant people could see what facilities would be available, rather than taking a chance, turning up and being disappointed. Knowing about accessibility in advance would be likely to encourage a greater range of people to select events they would really enjoy,” said O’Gorman.

“This year as part of the event registration process, event organisers were required to answer a few accessibility questions around whether their events have a designated viewing area, disabled car parks, wheelchair access, disabled toilets and sign language interpreters.  There is a key at the front of the booklet and every event has the symbols to show whether or not the event has the accessible facilities. The information is also highlighted in each event on Facebook, Eventfinda and on our website. One of the events in the Endless Summer Festival has a sign language interpreter and we will work with the Deaf community and event organisers to see this increase over time. We have already booked one for the Christmas Festival 2015.”

Events include the Highland Games, Ruakaka Races, The Bridge to Basin series, Water Slide mania at the town basin, Art beat, Blues v Chiefs, Beach to Basin, Kids Triathlon, the White Plate dinner, Snorkling and Kayaking days, The Fritter Festival, Opera in the Garden, lots of art exhibitions.   Easter events includ the Waipu Easter Carnival, The Whangarei Head Arts Trail, Steampunk Sunday, Uku North Exhibition and Festival of Fibre.

To find out about access at events, go to the Venues and Events Whangarei website and information is given on the page for each event.  Booklets with the same information are available in the district from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub or the Isite.  Events can be followed on the Endless Summer Festival Facebook page  Source: Press release; Pers Comm.  Follow on Twitter: @WhangareiDC

Japanese to expand access in preparation for Olympics, Paralympics

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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

UN: People with Disabilities fastest growing minority in the world

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Senior couple out for  a stroll On December 3 – which is the United Nations International Day of People with Disabilities – New Zealanders with disabilities who are high achievers will be recognised at the Attitude Awards in Auckland.  According to the recently released NZ Disability Survey 2013, 24% of people living in New Zealand have one or more disabilities.  Because of the aging population, this percentage will increase over the coming years as the huge Baby Boomer cohort ages.  Globally, there are at least 1 billion people already with some form of disability, and the United Nations describing the disability community as “the fastest-growing minority in the world” (UN). In NZ, physical impairment is the most common type of disability, followed by sensory impairments such as hearing or vision loss. Mental illness affected 5% of our citizens, and intellectual disability 2%.  Last year’s inductee into Attitude’s hall of fame, accessibility advocate Alexia Pickering, said in her acceptance speech:  “Accessibility rules the lives of all people with disabilities. It determines where we go, what we do, who we can visit, what theatre we can go to. It just rules our life” (Stuff). The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which has been observed since 1992, provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as an overarching development issue, promote understanding of disability issues, and mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of people with disabilities.  The theme of this year’s commemoration is: “Sustainable Development – The Promise of Technology.”

Follow on Twitter: @UN_Enable @attitude_tv @NZStuff  @kennyKatie