UNWTO, EC endorse accessible tourism at recent meeting in Vicenza Italy

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From Wikipedia A collage of Vicenza showing: the Villa Capra "La Rotonda", the classical temple in the Parco Querini, a panorama of the city from the Monte Berico, the Piazza dei Signori and the Renaissance Basilica Palladiana.

Delegates at a recent meeting of MITA (International Meeting for Accessible Tourism) in Vicenza, Italy heard a video message from United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai.  Rifai highlighted the importance of accessible tourism.  “Accessibility is the across-the-board element of a policy of responsible and sustainable tourism. Accessible Tourism is both an ethical imperative and a business opportunity: everyone benefits from it, not just people with disabilities or specific needs” said Rifai. “That’s why Accessible Tourism, as stated in the UNWTO Advice 2013, has become an important Mission for our future”.

Also at the meeting, Massimo Baldinato of the Cabinet of Antonio Tajani, confirmed the willingness of the European Commission to work on the development of Accessible Tourism in a speech highlighting that “giving more quality to tourism means increasing the satisfaction of all tourists, developing a tourism that seeks excellence”.

Other speakers at the meeting included Victor Calise, New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), Igor Stefanovic, UNWTO Ethics and Social Dimensions of Tourism Program, Ivor Ambrose and others from the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and Karen Staley, VP, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (Iaapa).   The meeting was organised by VillageForAll (V4A®), Regione del Veneto and Fiera Di Vicenza in cooperation with UNWTO, and with the sponsorship of the European Commission (EC), European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and EXPO 2015.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @Villageforall @UNWTO @EUaccesstourism @NycCalise @NYC_MOPD @IAAPAHQ @IAAPAEuropeVP



Lonely Planet’s Travel for All project

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Guest article by Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser, Lonely Planet (Australia).  Guest article reprinted with permission from Lonely Planet.Martin Heng and family at the beach photo courtesy of Martin Heng

The 3rd of December 2013 was the International Day of People with Disability, a United Nations–sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.  Om that day, Lonely Planet launched a project that seeks to make travel possible for more people.

Our core belief is that travel is a force for good when practised responsibly, that travel enriches those who are touched by it either directly or indirectly. Travelling with a disability requires a lot of organisation, but information on accessibility is often hard to find. Around 50% of people with a disability would travel more if they could be sure more accessible facilities were available. With almost a billion people in the world — that’s almost 15% of the world’s population — having a physical, mental or sensory disability, we believe it’s important to ensure their access to travel opportunities is not limited.

What is the aim of Lonely Planet’s Travel for All project?

Our goal is to make Lonely Planet the world’s premier provider of accessible travel information, the first port of call for all accessible travel needs, not only for those with a disability, but for anybody with access issues.

So what exactly do we intend to do?

We believe that this is all about community. Lonely Planet already hosts the world’s largest, most well-known, highly respected and frequented online travel community; we want to extend that to the accessible travel community. There is no group of people better qualified to assess the accessibility of venues than those themselves affected by access issues and none more highly motivated to provide advice and recommendations for their peers. We intend to give our community the platform to share their information and experiences, through our existing Thorn Tree forum, and via social media channels such as Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

The first thing we intend to do is listen! There are few, if any, degrees of separation between you and somebody who may have difficulties accessing the same travel opportunities as others because of physical frailty, health issues or disability. Let us know what you think we can do to help them reap the benefits from travel, whether planning, on the road or from the comfort of their own home. Simply send us an e-mail to community@lonelyplanet.com.au with the subject header Travel for All or post on our Google+ page (see below).

While we’re waiting for your ideas to flow in, we’ll publish a series of articles on lonelyplanet.com written by people affected by different access issues.

Our pilot project will be an Accessible Melbourne & Victoria e-book since this format is the most affordable and appropriate medium for many with access issues. Melbourne is also where Lonely Planet has been headquartered for most of our existence and where the lead for the project, Martin Heng (formerly Editorial Manager of Lonely Planet and himself a quadriplegic), is based. Again, if you have any ideas specifically related to this project, drop us a line to community@lonelyplanet.com.au with the subject header Accessible Melbourne.

Introducing our new community on Google+

There has long been a Travellers with Disabilities branch on Thorn Tree, but it is little used. We believe that part of the reason for this lies in the fact that much of the information needed by people with access issues should be shared in a different format to a standard forum, particularly in the digital age where it is so easy to share photos and videos, and where blogging has become so commonplace.

So we are delighted to invite you to join our new community on  Google+ to share your experiences and to SHOW other people what they can expect when they visit a particular attraction, hotel, cafe etc. Every person’s access issue is different, according to their level of ability and type of disability, and the only way for them to truly judge whether a place is suitable for them is for them to see it or to read about it in detail. Come and join us and help us build a community that can change the lives of millions of travellers worldwide.

Accessible Tourism for All: UN recommendations

We are far from alone in our commitment to accessible travel. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recommendations on “Accessible Tourism for All” (2013) have been approved by the General Assembly. The recommendations outline a form of tourism that will enable people with access requirements to travel independently through universally designed tourism products and services. These recommendations were developed within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2007, the first human rights convention adopted in the 21st-century, signed by 158 countries and ratified by 138 (though not yet by the United States).

A manual on “Accessible Tourism for All” has been designed to guide tourism stakeholders to improve the accessibility for tourism destinations, facilities and services worldwide. The development of the manual is a joint effort between UNWTO, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and two Spanish institutions, the ACS Foundation and the ONCE Foundation.

As UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai says, “We must come to appreciate that accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities or special needs, it benefits us all.” More and more tourism bodies around the world are beginning to realise this. Spurred on by hosting the Olympics, VisitEngland and VisitScotland have led the way by providing concrete support and guidelines for businesses and by sponsoring the Open Britain website.

The wind of change has begun to blow and we at Lonely Planet are riding its current. Join us as we embark on new journeys, not necessarily to different places but in different ways. Help us share our journeys with other companions.

Link http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/travel-for-all-join-lonely-planets-accessible-travel-project  Martin Heng tel.+61 (0) 3 8379 8100 ext.8482; mob.0412 759322; Google+ +Martin Heng Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng @UNWTO @Fundacion_ONCE

Martin Heng of Lonely Planet and accessible tourism

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Guest article reprinted with permission from Lonely Planet. Martin Heng is Accessible Travel Manager at Lonely Planet.  Here he writes about how he became involved in accessible tourism

 Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Manager Martin Heng in Hays Paddock, Melbourne, Australia. Image by Sabine Heng / Lonely Planet.

Travelling has always been in my blood. Perhaps I inherited it from my father, who was born in Singapore, travelled the world in the British Merchant Navy and finally settled in the UK, where I was born. I’ve lived and worked in half a dozen countries and travelled to more than 40. In the 80s and 90s I spent the best part of 10 years on the road, pausing only long enough to make enough money for the next trip. Imagine my euphoria in 1999 when I landed a job with Lonely Planet, whose books had been a constant companion across three continents over the previous decade! I’ve been with the company ever since in several different roles, including Trade Publishing Manager and Editorial Manager, overseeing the production of the entire range of printed books.

I had always been very keen bike rider. At 16 I cycled from Birmingham to northern France to meet my parents there. In the 90s, I cycled with my partner round the South Island of New Zealand, around Hokkaido, in northern Japan, and made several trips in the Tokyo area when living there. I was also lucky enough to be selected to join the Lonely Planet relay team on the Tour d’Afrique, riding from Nairobi in Kenya through northern Tanzania and along Lake Malawi – a trip of some 2500 kilometres over 18 riding days. And of course I rode to work every day, a round trip of 40 km, year-round, rain or shine. And then every cyclist’s nightmare came to pass: I was hit by a car. Unfortunately, I didn’t just break a few bones; instead, I damaged my spinal cord and was left a quadriplegic.

In some ways I have been lucky in that I do have some movement below the level of my injury. In fact, all my muscles do work – imperfectly and in an uncoordinated fashion – and over the last three years I have learned to walk again, albeit only with the aid of a walking frame, very slowly and over short distances. The only major trip I have undertaken was to a boot camp for paraplegics and quadriplegics in the USA, where, using the latest machinery and techniques, patients undergo 3 to 4 hours physio every day.

As I started back to work, part-time at first, I started to look into what resources there were for people travelling with a disability. Surely, I thought, it should be easy in this digital age to find information on accessible accommodation and on travelling in different countries with a disability. Wrong! There is quite a lot of information out there but it isn’t easy to find – it’s all siloed in special-interest websites or hidden away on local government websites, often only in the local language. As I started to connect more with disabled communities I kept hearing the same story from other people and, when they learned I worked for Lonely Planet, they asked why we were not producing books on accessible travel.

Now that I have been appointed Accessible Travel Manager at Lonely Planet, it has become my mission to make travel easier for those who are hampered by issues of accessibility, whether it be through illness, age or disability. We may never produce printed books specifically for disabled travellers, but there are many other things we can do, particularly through building a community which is happy to share ideas, information and experiences through words, pictures and even video. I believe this is the true potential that the digital age offers us. I’m truly excited – for myself, for Lonely Planet, but most of all for those 1 billion people around the world whose physical limitations are preventing them from the joy that is travel.

Source: Lonely Planet.  Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng

Five Safe-Travel tips for People with Disabilities

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Guest article by Rohit Agarwal, an architect by profession and the owner of Trans India Travels.  Rohit is a dedicated travel enthusiast who likes to explore various places around the world.

Woman in a wheelchair on an escalator picture provided by Rohit Argawal


Travelling is an essential part of our lives. While it is now practiced widely as a recreational activity, most of us travel for various other circumstances. One of the most cumbersome situations relating to travel is when travelling with a disability or with a disabled.  This situation is troublesome for both the disabled and the caretaker and special care needs to be taken by both. It is not common for a disabled person to practice independent or recreational travel, but it is easily possible if certain careful measures are taken. The following tips will help you take care of yourself or the disabled travelling with you making vacations and recreational trips not only possible but a whole lot easier. If you’re fit to travel according to the physicians then you should be fit to travel alone and enjoy the fruits of independent travel.

1. Plan In Advance

Planning as far as you can is the key to easy travel. Making early reservations will not only ensure cheaper but also more comfortable travel. Advance booking will ensure you get the best options according to your preference. Many airlines allow just one wheelchair per flight so make sure it is yours by booking in advance. Make sure you do a proper research about your destination before making any reservations and ensure that the hotels and the cities you’re checking in and visiting have the proper facilities for the disabled.

2. Careful Packing Is A Must

Make sure you pack your medications or any other supplements properly and always carry a spare set. Keep one set where they can be easily accessed especially while on a plane, train or a bus. Many medicines are supposed to be kept at certain temperatures so make sure you have the required things like a cooler bag and a place to store them when you reach your destination. Make sure you keep your prescriptions handy in case you lose your medicines and would need to buy more. Make sure you specially request your physician to write the generic name of the medicine rather than the name of the brand or the product name on the prescription.

3. Taking Special Care During The Journey

Special care needs to be taken before the journey actually begins. Arriving early at the airport or the bus or the train station is a must and is advisable if you do not want to risk missing a flight, bus or the train. This not only ensures hassle free boarding but also help lower that pre-trip anxiety. During your journey make sure you have all your necessary equipment and medication handy. Take note of the closest and the most easily accessible washroom from your seat. Keep your foldable wheelchair or scooter handy but if not then label them clearly so they can be returned in case they’re lost.

4. Get Travel Insurance, if possible

Travel Insurance is a type of a health insurance which is supposed to cover the medical, financial and collateral loss occurred while travelling. There are various types of travel insurance plans available which cover national and international travel. Many insurance agencies also offer a temporary insurance that simply cover the losses incurred during a particular trip or journey that can be nation or international. It might cost you a few more dollars or your choice of currency but will ensure a hassle free travel and a relaxing trip.

5. Careful Planning While On Your Trip

It is necessary that you understand your own limits and do not try to expand them at a huge risk. Planning too many activities in less time can leave you exhausted and can threaten your condition. If it’s a vacation make sure that you spend more time relaxing than sightseeing and simply alternating the balance between rest and play. Do proper research about the various facilities you can avail in the city to help facilitate easy getting around. Carry important medicines and do not over tire yourself with more activities than you can handle.

Disability can be a small halt to your independent lifestyle especially when travelling. However, with careful planning it can be easily overcome and you can totally enjoy your trips and vacations without letting your ailment keep you away from the fun.

Follow on Twitter: @TransIndiaTrvls  On Google+ https://plus.google.com/+RohitAgarwal87#+RohitAgarwal87/posts

NZ: Review of access for people with disabilities under the Building Code

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Picture of steps

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) with the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is carrying out a disability access review.  The review is being carried out by Malatest International . The purpose of this review is to gain a better understanding of how the requirements for people with disabilities contained in the Building Act and the Building Code are being implemented in new buildings, as well as buildings being altered, and the extent to which these requirements do in fact provide an accessible built environment for people with disabilities.  The review is collecting sector ‘issues’ and ideas for practical changes.

To inform the review, people can do a survey which is about buildings you go into as part of your day to day life such as shopping centres, council or government buildings, shops, theatres, restaurants, hospitals and doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, parking buildings, offices, factories and any place of work. The review does not
include people’s homes.   As the New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) points out, the survey is about buildings that are accessible or not accessible to everybody.

If you would like to take part you can do so by:

Source: NZDSN.  Follow on Twitter: @NZDSN @MBIEgovtnz @NZ_ODI

UNWTO, San Marino to hold first European Conference on Accessible Tourism

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San Marino scenic

Policies and measures to promote universal accessibility in tourism will be at the centre of the first UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism, jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino (RSM) on the 19th of November, 2014.  Accessible Tourism for All ensures that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, and facilities open to the public or for public use.  The conference is being organized in recognition of the importance of accessibility in tourism, and will look at how to maintain and develop quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism.  The agreement to hold the conference was signed at ITB Berlin by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and Teodoro Lonfernini, Minister of Tourism and Relations with Public Utilities State Corporation of San Marino.  “Accessible tourism benefits everyone and advancing the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities should be seen as an opportunity as well as an obligation; UNWTO and the Republic of San Marino are both deeply committed to taking concrete action in this area”, said Rifai.  “Accessibility has become a fundamental issue in tourism. Many countries are devoting special attention to this topic and are adjusting their tourism systems and legislations. After being recognised as 2013 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), San Marino is being offered by UNWTO the opportunity to focus on accessibility through the organisation of a European Conference in the Republic, which fills us with pride. This is a major challenge for the future that we all must meet”, said Lonfernini.

According to the World Health Organization 15% of the world population has a physical, mental or sensory disability. In its efforts to mainstream universal accessibility within the tourism sector, UNWTO works closely with disabled people’s organizations (DPOs). In 2013, the General Assembly adopted the Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All which incorporate the most relevant aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and Universal Design.

Additional highlights include the publication of Manuals on Accessible Tourism, one of which has been already released in partnership with the Spanish ACS Foundation. The manual co-produced with the ONCE Foundation is expected to be issued soon.

The 1st UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism will be held alongside the 14th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), which recently declared accessible tourism for all one of its top priorities.

Source: UNWTO press release.  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @RisiMarcelo @Fundacion_ONCE @SanMarinoxTutti

NZ National Foundation for the Deaf calls for better access for Deaf in Christchurch rebuild

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Building crane

The New Zealand National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) points out that as the rebuild if Christchurch (after the earthquakes) gains momentum, designers and planners are still not including listening support systems in public buildings.  “This oversight contradicts the Building Code caluse G5.3.5, and Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which says that such spaces should be able to be enjoyed by all people regardless of their age, ethnicity, and disability” writes NFD (p. 7).  “Communal areas, theatres, cinemas, aged care facilities, and other built environments should all support the needs of the hearing impaired” continues the article.  NFD have written to the Christchurch City Council urging them to consider the needs of thousands of local citizens, and consistently incorporate listening systems and other technology when giving building consent.

Follow on Twitter: @theNatFdnDeaf

Brighton Hove one of four destinations to work with VisitEngland on Access for All campaign

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Three women in wheelchairs at Brighton from the Brighton Hove CC website

Brighton & Hove is one of four destinations to have been chosen to work with England’s national tourist board (VisitEngland), on its Access for All campaign aimed at championing and improving accessible tourism in England, and making it a leading destination for accessible tourism.  Brighton & Hove was invited to take part in the initiative because of its consistent commitment to improving accessibility for visitors. Accessible tourism is estimated to be worth over £2billion a year to the domestic tourism industry, and has strong growth potential.

VisitBrighton is the official destination marketing body for Brighton & Hove and is part of Brighton and Hove City Council.   As part of the Access For All Campaign, which is funded by £100,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund plus contributions from partners, VisitBrighton coordinated work to identify top class accommodation and attractions, ensure they are delivering the highest possible standard of access for visitors and to identify areas for improvement. A range of tourism experiences, including visiting the Royal Pavilion, Preston Manor and the city’s museums as well as three hotels, Thistle Brighton, Jurys Inn and Hilton Brighton Metropole, were assessed.

Primary audits looked at access to each of the hotels and attractions, including public areas and bedrooms, signage, literature and websites, to assess accessibility for wheelchair users, and hearing and visually impaired visitors. As part of the process front-line staff received training and the businesses had to work through an improvement plan to ensure all areas were as accessible as possible for disabled visitors.

The participating businesses now feature in a new local access friendly guide available in either PDF, large print Word or audio format from www.visitengland.com/access-brighton. For those who cannot access the guides online a limited number of printed copies are available from the Visitor Information Point at the Brighton Centre box office.  Offers, downloadable factsheets about accessible places to stay, visit and eat, and maps showing step-free access to the main hotels and attractions, the locations of dropped kerbs and disabled parking bays are also detailed on the VisitBrighton website www.visitbrighton.com/plan-your-visit/accessibility

The other destinations involved are Leicestershire, Newcastle Gateshead, and Bath.

About Growing Tourism Locally – a Regional Growth Fund (RGF) Tourism Investment Project:   In October 2011 VisitEngland’s application to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund was approved by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). £19.8 million was awarded to deliver a three year partner marketing project entitled ‘Growing Tourism Locally’.  The project aims to stimulate the domestic visitor market to grow local economies through increased tourism activity by UK residents. The project enables VisitEngland to work in partnership to facilitate growth at a local level, further amplifying the second Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign that was launched in March this year.  ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ has the potential to create the equivalent of 9,100 full time jobs across England and is focussed on areas suffering economic challenges with tourism growth potential. The RGF funding is matched with private sector funding at national and local levels to create a project of £41million over 3 years.  It is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow. So far £2.6 billion of funding has been allocated to support projects and programmes committed to deliver sustainable jobs and economic growth. Round 5 will open on 11 October and close on 9 December. For more information, www.bis.gov.uk/rgf

Source: Press Release.  Follow on Twitter: @BrightonHoveCC @VisitEngland

VisitEngland launches national marketing campaign to promote Accessible Tourism

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Portrait of Richard 111 from the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre website

In the spirit of Olympic and Paralympic legacy, VisitEngland has launched a national marketing campaign aimed at championing and improving accessible tourism in England, a sector worth over £2billion a year* to the domestic tourism industry, with strong growth potential. The national tourist board has worked with a number of destinations and the Disabled Persons Railcard to develop guides highlighting fantastic and accessible tourism experiences across the country. The Access for All Campaign aims to position England as a leading destination for accessible tourism.

The campaign, funded by £100,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) plus contributions from partners, is a cost-effective way for selected English destinations to showcase their accessible tourism businesses and attract more visits from disabled travellers and others with access needs, and their companions.

Each destination has selected top class accommodation and attractions which have then been through an Access for All programme developed by VisitEngland to ensure they’re delivering the highest standard of access for visitors. These places to stay and visit are featured in a series of local guides that highlight key attributes of the destination as well as promoting it as access friendly. The four destinations involved in the campaign are listed below, with a few highlights of what is on offer:

Leicestershire – Situated in the heart of the country, Leicestershire has been welcoming visitors for more than 2,000 years – everyone from Roman armies to medieval Kings and Queens. Visitors to the city and county can explore its unique heritage in a new accessible package, Stay Play Explore Glorious Heritage. Visit the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, site of the dramatic conclusion to the Wars of the Roses, where Richard III lost his life and Henry Tudor was crowned king. From here, visit the Richard III exhibition at Leicester’s Guildhall to continue your discovery of this intriguing monarch, before taking afternoon tea at The Belmont Hotel. The National Brewery Centre makes a perfect pit stop, and celebrates the history, art and fun of brewing.  Finally, see the National Memorial Arboretum and Snibston Discovery Museum, the largest science and technology museum in the East Midlands. The Stay Play Explore Glorious Heritage package includes entry to a choice of three out of five attractions and an overnight stay at the 4-star Hinckley Island Hotel for just £109. Each site has completed VisitEngland’s Access for All programme and offers excellent facilities and access.

NewcastleGateshead – A must-see for visitors to NewcastleGateshead is the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, with its four accessible gallery spaces, it has an ever-changing programme of exhibitions. NewcastleGateshead is home to Europe’s largest shopping and leisure centre, intu Metrocentre which offers a range of services for visitors with accessibility needs, including Shopmobility, assisted changing facilities, and free wheelchair hire. The city is also home to one of the world’s premier music venues, Sage Gateshead. This ‘Access for All’ award-winning venue’s extensive access facilities include level access throughout, hearing loop systems, 35 accessible toilets and monitored light levels in all areas.  At the end of a long day, head back to the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, an award-winning hotel set on the historic Quayside with fantastic views over the River Tyne. There are twelve accessible guest rooms, including three Executive rooms which have access to a private lounge and panoramic views of the city.

Brighton – Bustling seaside destination Brighton & Hove has a jam-packed cultural calendar, making it a top spot for a seaside break. Take in Brighton’s art culture with visits to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and the Hove Museum & Art Gallery. Heritage fans can visit Brighton’s spectacular seaside palace, the Royal Pavilion, with easy access throughout the ground floor, or visit the nearby Preston Manor, a delightful Edwardian country house with the ground floor, basement and walled garden accessible for all visitors. Thistle Brighton, Jurys Inn and Hilton Brighton Metropole have all been through VisitEngland’s Access for All programme and feature guest rooms accessible for wheelchair users and visually or hearing impaired guests.  VisitBrighton offers downloadable factsheets about access in the city and a map showing step free access to the main hotels and attractions, and the locations of dropped kerbs around the city.

Bath – For centuries, Bath has enchanted everyone from ancient Romans to Jane Austen and it continues to offer everything required for a perfect weekend break: from heritage sites and contemporary culture to top hotels and excellent food. You can take in the atmosphere and impressive architecture on a fully personalised tour with Bath Parade Guides. Renovations to The Roman Baths – one of the wonders of Roman England – have made the Baths accessible for all, and include a lift to the lower level museum, level access, and ramps across ancient Roman obstacles. The Bath for Everyone offer for £74.50 will transport you to the city’s origins and ensure you get to know the best of Bath. Take in Bath’s culture and visit the Fashion Museum, housed in the impressive 18th century Assembly Rooms. All floors are accessible and equipped with ramps, a lift and level access throughout. Victoria Art Gallery is home to a plethora of international artists from the 15th century to the present day. Make a weekend of it with a stay at the Holiday Inn Express, where seven purpose-built accessible guest rooms have been designed to suit a variety of access needs.

The full list of partners involved in the Access for All campaign can be found in the destination guides which are downloadable from VisitEngland.com/accessforall

James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland said: “England is a very accessible destination with plenty on offer for everyone. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase these particular locations as shining examples of best practice; to build on the legacy of the 2012 Paralympic Games and encourage tourism businesses to make the most of the accessible tourism market, which has enormous potential for growth. Whether exploring the wonders of Roman England in Bath, enjoying a vibrant seaside break in Brighton, journeying through Leicestershire’s heritage, or taking in the bustle of NewcastleGateshead, with these guides you can enjoy a fantastic holiday and feel confident that the places you visit are working hard to meet your access needs.”

Guides can be downloaded in either PDF, large print Word or audio format from  VisitEngland.com/accessforall.  A limited number of printed copies are available for those who cannot access the guides online. Email qad@VisitEngland.org or call 0207 578 1454.  For more information contact Angelah Sparg, Corporate Communications Manager Tel: 02075781482, Email Angelah.sparg@visitengland.org or Sarah Long, Head of Corporate Communications Tel: 020 7578 1452, Email sarah.long@visitengland.orgwww.visitengland.org

*In 2009, 11% of all domestic trips included someone with a health condition or impairment – a total of 11.28 million trips worth £1.9 billion (Great Britain Tourism Survey, 2009). In 2010, 1.8% of all international visits to England were by someone with a health condition or impairment – a total of 576 thousand trips worth £341 million (International Passenger Survey, 2010.) • VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs, available at www.visitengland.org/access and tourism information for people with physical and sensory needs at www.visitengland.com/accessforall

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @JBerresfordVE @RossCalladine

How cultural institutes can improve access for under $100

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Ballet dancer public domain picture

Museum for All (MFA) is a European network backed by artecontacto and the Design for All Foundation which promotes access to culture using a collaborative, inclusive approach.  It promotes implementation of Design for All.  The core of MFA is an online database of museums, which brings together information from the websites of selected cultural institutions in more than 30 European countries. Potential visitors can compare information from different venues.   MFA is also a place for debate, collective reflection and knowledge sharing between professionals in culture, accessibility and Design for All.

Recently, Betty Siegel, Director of Accessibility at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts described on MFA 60 ways to create more accessible facilities and programmes for under $100 at cultural institutions.  The ideas she presented were compiled from the participants at the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) conferences for Arts administrators and managers held over the past 5 years.  The ideas include ways to improve accessibility for patrons with disabilities, whether those are physical, sensory, or intellectual. The Kennedy Center website also has a list of Tip Sheets containing information on a variety of topics for those involved with or interested in making their facilities and programming more accessible to people with disabilities.

Follow on Twitter: @MuseumsForAll @kencen @ArteConTacto_  @DesignforAllFd

Tourism Business magazine NZ says Accessible Tourism increasingly important

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Senior tourist at Tekapo church New Zealand

Tourism Business magazine is New Zealand’s premier magazine for the tourism industry.  Edited by Annie Gray, it brings important news and tips to the industry every second month.  In the latest issue (Dec-Jan 13/14), a “Something to Ponder” article points out that Accessible Tourism is going to be increasingly important to the NZ tourism industry, and that businesses need to cater to the older demographic.  The proof, says the article, can be found in the results from the 2013 NZ Census.  In a snapshot about the age of NZ’s population, one of the most startling aspects is that people aged 50-69 make up more than 23% of the population and number nearly one million (up by 21.5% since the last 2006 census).  The article goes on to say that those aged 65-69 show the biggest increase (32%0, followed by those 60-64 years old (almost 30% increase).

Why does this mean the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry should improve access?  Because disability increases with age.  Not only that, but it is older generations who have the time and money to spend on tourism.  And, more than 40% of NZ’s international visitors are in the older (50+) age groups, with the fastest growth rate for international visitors occuring in the 60-69 year-old demographic.  According to NZ MED, this trend will continue.

Follow on Twitter: @tourismbusiness @MBIEgovtnz

Conference on Accessibility, Vienna: “Innovative Policies and Practices for Persons with Disabilities”

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Zero Project logo from their website

The Essl Foundation, the World Future Council and the European Foundation Centre have joined forces to convene an international conference in Vienna, Austria February 27-28. These three organizations initiated the Zero Project, which aims to work for a world without barriers.  It does so by researching Innovative Practices and Innovative Polices worldwide that help to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, as well as researching social indicators that measure the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the current situation in all countries of the world.

The conference is the third such and its aim is to raise awareness about innovative solutions from around the world that advance accessibility for persons with disabilities. The conference is free, but by invitation only. Details on the website. Twitter: @ZeroProjectorg @Good_Policies @The_EFC

Accessible Tourism again on the agenda at ITB Berlin

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German National Tourism Board logo from their website

The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) has its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  It is funded by and works on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) to represent Germany as a tourist destination.   The GNTB will this March host the third annual “Day of Accessible Tourism” at ITB Berlin travel and tourism fair, aiming to raise awareness of the topic of accessible tourism and the economic opportunities it presents.

The GNTB is supported by its partners , the National and State Offices of Tourism for All (NatKo) and Barrier-free Destinations in Germany. This year, the event focuses on the challenges of demographic change and what the development of accessible tourism offers. Speakers from national tourism organizations, as well as service providers and groups supporting accessible tourism will present information, best practice examples and current trends in their areas. There will also be several panel discussions for interested parties to attend and engage in.

“Together with our partners we have set ourselves the goal to develop and market reliable and quality-tested products along the entire travel and service chain. The objective of the GNTB is to communicate the various travel options we offer internationally, and to anchor accessibility as an important facet of the essence of Destination Germany as a brand,” explains Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB.

In Europe alone there are about 50 million people with mobility and activity limitations and almost 90 million people who are older than 65. Therefore it is important to ensure that the specific requirements of this market are linked to long-term and cooperative actions by stakeholders in business, government, research and disability organisations. This is a worthwhile investment because accessibility should not only be an issue for travellers with mobility and activity limitations – but for everyone – including tourists and residents. Thus, the level of accessibility for all should be a benchmark of quality for tourist services and be a competitive factor for destinations.

The event takes place on Friday the 7th of March 2014 between 10.30am and 4.00pm in the “New York Saal” (Hall 7.1a ) in the morning and in the ” Berlin Hall” (Hall 7.3 ) at the Exhibition Grounds in Berlin in the afternoon.

Main Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @GermanyTourism @gntb2014 @BMWi_Bund @ITB_Berlin

Program to improve taxi accessibility first of its kind in Canada

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City of Vancouver taxis from the City website

Vancouver City mayor Gregor Robertson, the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities have launched ‘Ask-Listen-Act’, a new form of enhanced taxi driver training involving seniors and people with disabilities. Robertson said the training will help make the taxi fleet more accessible and convenient for local seniors and people with disabilities. One in six people in BC has a disability and one in eight people in Vancouver is 65 years of age or older.   “From our new building code to enhanced investments in pedestrian safety, the City is committed to improving accessibility for everyone”, said Robertson.  ‘Ask-Listen-Act’ Enhanced Taxi Driver Training will provide Vancouver taxi drivers with extensive training to ensure customers with different types of disabilities are transported safely and respectfully. In development since April 2012, the program is created by the Vancouver Taxi Association, in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the BC Coalition of Disabilities, and involved consultation with several groups, including the City’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, Seniors Advisory Committee, Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC (COSCO), Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC), and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, among others.

‘Ask-Listen-Act’ will provide no-charge, specific training for taxi drivers when serving customers with a range of disabilities including those using mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. It also provides guidance for helping customers with developmental disabilities, customers who are blind or visually impaired, customers with guide or assistance dogs, and customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Follow on Twitter: @CityofVancouver @BCCPDHealth @VCHhealthcare

UK Caterer and Hotelkeeper Catey Accessible Award

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Table setting

The  Caterer and Hotelkeeper is a weekly UK business magazine for hospitality professionals.  It runs several events each year, including The Cateys. The Cateys  have an Accessibility Award category, which recognises the operators going above and beyond the requirements of the Equality Act in accommodating and catering for disabled people.  The winner will be an individual hotel, pub, restaurant, foodservice contract or other hospitality operation complying with all aspects of the Equality Act, and offering great levels of customer service to non-disabled and disabled customers. This category is not open to groups but is open to an individual establishment within a group.  Entrants must submit their accessibility statement, and clearly demonstrate that they have understood the business case of providing excellent customer service for disabled visitors and guests. The judges will consider answers provided to questions, including

Why did you target the market segment that includes people with disabilities?

What did you do to attract people with disabilities?

How did you involve your staff in meeting the needs of people with disabilities?

What were the results for your business?

What was your budget and return on investment?

Judges will also look for evidence to support answers given. This could include customer feedback, market research, staff training activities, access statement, accessible improvements to the building or facilities and financial success.

Source: Caterer and Hotelkeeper website and Cateys website. Follow on Twitter: @Caterertweets

Village 4 All success at UNWTO Ulysses Awards

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Roberto Vitali of Village for All

Village for all (V4A®) is the International Quality Brand Hospitality for all that provides information to people with disabilities, those with food or environmental allergies, seniors, those with health needs, and families with small children, so that they can make informed choices about where to spend their holidays. V4A® recently entered the United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO Ulysses Award.  The award recognizes innovation in tourism and honour tourism initiatives that contribute to advance tourism through knowledge and innovation, in line with the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.  This year, V4A® achieved First Runner-up for Innovation in Enterprises with its V4A® International Quality Brand for Hospitality for All project and Second 2nd Runner-up with its V4AInside software, designed to survey and record information about the accessibility of tourist accommodations and points of interest.  The awards were given during a ceremony at the International Tourism Fair in Madrid, FITUR, (the Feria Internacional de Turismo en España), which was attended by UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Taleb Rifai.

Roberto Vitali, President of V4A®, commented: “To be nominated as candidates in two categories is in itself an exceptional event, but that neither nomination was for an ‘accessible’ tourism category, but in the Tourism – with a capital T – category, the one that covers all sectors of the industry, is truly worth note. This world level recognition is proof of just how innovative and cutting-edge our projects and activities really are: V4A® is not just a project for the disabled in Italy, it is a tourism project for Everyone, Everywhere!”  

Congratulations to V4A® and founder Vitali. Read more about V4A® here. Follow on Twitter: @Villageforall @Vitali_Roberto @UNWTO @Fitur_

New Mobility magazine survey of wheelchair-user air travel

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Plane in flight

New Mobility magazine was launched in the USA in 1989 to serve an underserved readership – wheelchair users.  Founder Sam Maddox recognized that this group wanted more information on how to lead active, healthy lives.  In 2010, United Spinal Association acquired New Mobility as part of a series of mergers with grass-roots disability organizations, including National Spinal Cord Injury Association and UsersFirst. Today New Mobility, edited by Tim Gilmer, remains an independent editorial voice and continues to be recognized as the premier wheelchair lifestyle publication in the world.  New Mobility is running a short survey to explore the state of air travel for wheelchair users today.  This is because there have been many stories about wheelchair users being mistreated by Transport Security Administration (TSA) agents or forced to crawl across the tarmac.   With a view to improving air travel for wheelchair users, New Mobility wants to ascertain if this is typical, or if these incidents are few and far between.  They want to find out if some airlines are better than others for wheelchair users, and are also interested in how often equipment is damaged or destroyed by airlines.  The survey can be found here  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/airline-accessibility

Scott Rains: People with disabilities are THE market, not a niche

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Scott Rains with a lion from Vimeo website

International travel and inclusion design consultant and author of the Rolling Rains Report, Scott Rains discusses accessible (or inclusive) tourism in New Mobility magazine.  Rains says that it is time for people with disabilities (PwDs) to “stop insisting we’re a market niche”.  This is because PwDs “cross-cut all niches and all demographics.”   Rains goes on to say that PwDs cover all economic brackets and travel for the same reasons as everyone else.  “We date, we marry, we have families” says Rains.  The article goes on to describe results from a survey carried out by New Mobility.  The survey found that about 44% of PwDs travel for family vacations, 32% for couple getaways, and 19% for work-related trips.  That’s a “lot of family members, lovers, and co-workers all benefiting from access technically needed by only one person”, says the article.  The survey also found that about 34% of PwDs aim to book rooms in the US$50-$100 range, 45% in the $100-$150 range, and 11% in the $150-$200 range.

Follow on Twitter: @srains @NewMobilityMag

Design For All Foundation Awards

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Design for All Foundation Good Paractice logo from their website

The 5th International Design for All Foundation Awards will be given on 12th February at the of Urbaccess: the European accessibility and universal design exhibition in Paris. The Awards recognise achievements in the field of design for all, great and small, by governments, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and professionals from all over the world. Design for All is the intervention on environments, products and services with the aim that everyone, including future generations, regardless of age, gender, capabilities or cultural background, can enjoy participating in the construction of our society, with equal opportunities participating in economic, social, cultural, recreational and entertainment activities while also being able to access, use and understand whatever part of the environment with as much independence as possible. The Awards aim to demonstrate that the implementation of design for all/universal design in any form contributes towards improving quality of life for everyone. The awards aim to fulfil the following objectives:

  • To recognise initiatives and projects which seek to respect human diversity      through the use of Design for All.
  • To promote Design for All as a tool to improve quality of life for everyone.
  • To highlight the importance of Design for All and its contribution to      innovation within all kinds of organisations.
  • To draw attention to those among the Good Practices selected by the      Foundation which exemplify most clearly the potential which design for      all/universal design offers for change.
  • To demonstrate the various social and economic benefits that Design for All     brings to organisations and professionals in different sectors.

Entries for the upcoming awards were accepted in the following categories:

  • Project proposals, initiatives, methodologies and studies carried out by Living Labs or other organisations.
  • Products and services already in use.

Each of these categories included, but was not limited to, the following areas of activity:

  • Products (household goods, industrial products, tools, textiles, consumables, foods, etc.).
  • Graphics (graphic design, signage, etc.).
  • Information and communication technology.
  • Urban and natural spaces.
  • Buildings (architecture, interior design, etc.).
  • Transport and mobility.
  • Services (tourism, culture, leisure, banking, health, etc.).
  • Initiatives and case studies demonstrating user-centred design in Living Labs which must be related to street furniture, the health sector, multimedia and/or digital services, as this category is linked to the IDeALL project which focuses on these areas.  This is currently being developed by the Integrating Design for All in Living Labs (IDeALL) project, which is co-financed by European Commission Enterprise & Industry Directorate General. While the website is under construction, information can be found at the interactive project website or the project blog

Source: Design For All Foundation website.  Follow on Twitter: @DesignforAllFd @SalonURBaccess


Brazilian study of the tourism behaviour and needs of people with disabilities

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Front cover logo of the Brazil Accessible Tourism report

Brazil has over 45 million citizens with disabilities, and the Federal Government of that country is intent on promoting the rights of people with disabilities.  To this end, the Ministry of Tourism launched an Accessible Tourism programme in partnership with the Human Rights Secretariat of the President of the republic and EMBRATUR (Brazilian Tourist Board or Brazilian Tourist Institute) because tourism is a sustainable economic activity with an important role in employment generation, foreign exchange, and social inclusion. For the development of an effective policy in the area of accessible and inclusive tourism, knowledge of the profile of tourists (both current and potential) with disabilities is seen as critical.  Therefore, research was conducted by CP2 Research in 2013 involving a survey of people with disabilities and tourism.  The results have been presented as a white paper: Estudo do Perfil de Turistas – Pessoas com Deficiência Documento Técnico – 2013The following selective summary of what people with disabilities think of tourism and what their tourism activities are is taken from a translation (Study of the Profile of Tourists with Disabilities) by Scott Rains of the Rolling Rains Report and a global leader in the field of accessible tourism research and promotion.  Continue reading here:

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