United Nations to participate in first World Summit “DESTINATIONS FOR ALL”

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Logo Destinations for All

Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), will inaugurate the first World Summit Destinations for All, to be held in Montreal October 19-22, 2014. Bas was appointed Director of UNDESA’s DSPD in May 2011.  She is a specialist in international politics, human rights, and social development.  The summit aims to identify and implement the necessary measures to establish international tourism that is inclusive and accessible to everyone.  More specifically, the event is expected to:

1) Make progress in determination of a set of international norms and standards with regards to accessible tourism and transportation

2) Highlight the economic benefits for destinations to be completely inclusive and accessible, and to develop and enhance accessible tourism products

3) Establish a world partnership and a common international strategy to develop universal accessibility for infrastructures, tourism services, transport, and to increase the availability of information on the accessibility of different destinations

The main driver of the conference is Keroul, a key consultant for Tourisme Québec regarding accessibility.  Many prestigious international organizations support the Summit, including the World Tourism Organization, the International Organization of Social Tourism, the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations, the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the ONCE Foundation in Spain, and Association Tourisme et Handicaps France.  Members of the steering committee and programme committee come from around the world, including Australasia (Access Tourism New Zealand being one), Asia, Northe America, Europe and the UK, and the Middle East.  The co-chairs of the summit are André Vallerand of Keroul and Ivor Ambrose of ENAT.

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Half of NYC cabs to be wheelchair-accessible by 2020

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New York City cabs Public Domain Image

Congratulations to New York City (NYC) for changing the rules so that by 2020, 50% of yellow cabs will be accessible to people who use wheelchairs.  The rule changes by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission are the first of their kind in the country, and will make NYC’s yellow taxi fleet the most accessible in the nation and one of the most disability-friendly in the world.  “This is a historic victory affirming the civil rights of New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Julia Pinover of Disability Rights Advocates (a nonprofit legal centre), and “a real civil rights victory for all New Yorkers”.  Wheelchair-user Ronnie Raymond said at the hearing where the changes were announced that reliably accessible transport would change his life.  “I would no longer be relegated to staying home or spending hours trying to get somewhere that takes everyone else 20 minutes,” said Raymond.  Another wheelchair user – Simi Linton – echoed these statements.  “Having an accessible taxi fleet is essential to me.  My livelihood, my well-being, and the well-being of my family depend on being able to use taxis.”  Linton is a writer, consultant, and public speaker, and one of the USA’s foremost experts on disability and the arts.

Follow on Twitter: @nyctaxi @dralegal

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

EC: Barrier-free travel: a win-win for society and EU tourism

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Wheelchair sign at a beac from the EC website

The European Commission Enterprise and Industry magazine reports that barrier-free travel is a win-win for society and EU tourism.  Making tourism more accessible is essential to the development of new markets and services that will help Europe’s tourism industry thrive. By making basic adjustments to facilities and information services, senior citizens and travellers with special access needs will promote equal opportunities, social inclusion, and boost the tourism industry.

Senior citizens and people with special needs have the desire and the right to travel like everyone else. However, their travel experiences are often restricted by physical barriers such as transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites and a general lack of information.  Senior citizens are an essential element to the European tourism industry. Currently, more than 128 million Europeans are between 55 and 80 years old, and according to current demographic trends, this proportion is expected to increase. However, the potential for senior travel has not yet been fully exploited: Only 41 % of seniors between 55 and 75 currently travel.  Tourism authorities, as well as industry and senior organisations, are being encouraged to engage in a stronger public-private partnership. In this context, the Commission is preparing to launch an initiative, ‘Europe, the best destination for seniors’, which is designed to increase the flow of senior tourists, particularly during the low and medium seasons, between countries both inside and outside the EU.

According to the World Health Organization/World Bank, an estimated one billion people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately a third of the world’s population is directly or indirectly affected by disability.  Many people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual, hearing impairment, allergies). For example, older and less mobile people or people with pushchairs have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.  For those people, travelling can be a real challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room with special access needs often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.

In order to promote accessible tourism, the Commission this year (2013), dedicated European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) awards 2013 to locations that excel in accessible tourism.  Destinations in 19 countries were recognised for their efforts in developing accessible tourism offers.  In addition, barriers that restrict travel within or to Europe are being lifted. The EU boasts a comprehensive set of passenger rights which apply regardless of the transport used.

Follow on Twitter: @EU_enterprise

Lonely Planet launches accessible travel project

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Map of the World from the Lonely Planet website

On the International Day of People with Disability (3 December – 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) Lonely Planet (LP) has launched an accessible travel project.  LP hosts the world’s largest, most well-known, highly respected and frequented online travel community, and they want to extend that to the accessible travel community.  The new project seeks to make travel possible for more people.  LP believes that travel is a force for good when practised responsibly, and 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 (about 15% of the world’s population) have a physical, mental or sensory disability, and LP believes it’s important to ensure their access to travel opportunities is not limited.  LP hopes to become 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.

LP will give people with disabilities the platform to share their information and experiences, through their  existing Thorn Tree forum, and social media channels such as Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.  They know that 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.   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.  A manual on ‘Accessible Tourism for All’ is set to be published in late 2013, designed to guide tourism stakeholders in how to improve the accessibility of 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.’

Source: LP press reease. For more information visit the LP website: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/travel-for-all-join-lonely-planets-accessible-travel-project  Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @UN_Enable @UNWTO @Fundacion_ONCE

Berlin a hero in improving access for visitors and citizens

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Crossing sign showing a wheelchair from the Access City Awards 2013 brochure

In most European cities, accessibility for all is, as of now, a legal obligation (Euronews). Berlin Germany is a leader in improving access for citizens and visitors.   The German capital has been actively improving access since the 1990s, and its efforts have been recognised this year with a special European Commission prize, the Access City Award 2013. The city won for its strategic and inclusive accessibility policies, which cover all aspects of city life and are firmly embedded in both the political and budgetary frameworks of the city. Berlin’s access projects include:

  • A free database (Mobidat) with 31 000 entries, giving information on the accessibility of facilities in all areas of life, including leisure, culture, health, welfare, and lifestyle.  It is produced by an NGO, and an IT provider with support from the Federal State of Berlin, and has been documenting access in the city for 20 years.
  • Roundtable chaired four times a year by the State and including representatives from tourism, hotels, restaurants, transport, disabilities NGOs and others. The goal is to establish a common platform to bring together information, products and services in the field of accessible travel and tourism and to ensure that Berlin positions itself both nationally and internationally as an ‘accessible city’.
  • The entire Berlin bus fleet is already equipped with wide-access doors. The target for 2020 is to make the tramway and metro equally accessible.
  • A short film for the Senate Department for Urban Development  – Berlin accessible for all 2020 – which identifies the requirements for an accessible city

Berlin is also working with other cities to improve access.  In this way, lessons learned by one city can be adapted to others.  “If you put together actors from many European cities then you are much stronger,” says Barbara Berninger, urban planner for theCity of Berlin. “Making a city barrier-free and accessible for all is a question of cost, so if you make the same mistake in Marseille, London and in Berlin, it is very expensive and it is much easier to learn from each other and not to reinvent the wheel again and again.”

Follow on Twitter: @visitberlin @EU_Justice

Philippine government to hold Accessible Tourism forum

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Philippines beach

The Philippine Government (Department of Tourism and National Council on Disability Affairs) will hold an Accessible Tourism Forum at Barangay Tawala (Pangalao Island) on November 26.  This continuers the government’s thrust of promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the tourism industry and other tourism-related programs of the government.   The forum will be conducted in line with Philippine statutes, such as Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law), Republic Act No. 7277, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Relevant to this, the forum will also identify major issues related to accessible tourism and recommend policy measures that would create an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities.  The construction of tourism related establishments, technical aspects, web accessibility, and universal design concepts will be discussed to highlight the importance of having an accessible and barrier-free tourism that will benefit both local and international tourists with disabilities, as well as others needing better access such as seniors and pregnant women. Participants invited  to the forum include representatives from the tourism industry sector, leaders of organizations of persons with disabilities, and other entrepreneurs engaged in tourism business. (NCDA)

Follow on Twitter: @TourismPHL @PIANewsdesk

Carleton U to hold International Summit on Accessibilty July 2014

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Exterior of the Ottawa Convention Centre

Carleton University with support from the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa is holding an International Summit on Accessibility in July 2014 in Ottawa.  The summit will promote access and inclusion for persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. The major theme is “Making it Happen – Intention to Action” and there are three primary streams: Innovation, Technology and Accessible Communities. Each stream will address issues of accessibility in recreation and the physical environment, as well as education, communication, employment, and mobility health. There will be a special emphasis on employment.  Some of the keynote speakers have been announced, the call for presentations has been made, registration and accommodation information, and the Sponsorship and Exhibits Prospectus is now available.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2013

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UN Enable logo

The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is: “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all”. A major focus of the Day is practical and concrete action to include disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Activities to commemorate the Day, work to highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as to promote public awareness to break barriers and open doors to realize an inclusive society for all.

By 3 December 2013, the outcome document of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development (HLMDD) will also be available and may be used to provide a blueprint for action to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all.  The HLMDD took place at UN Headquarters on 23 September, the day before the opening of the General Debate of the 68th session of the General Assembly. The outcome document of the HLMDD is informed by Member States and the many inputs received from organizations of persons with disabilities and other relevant stakeholders, including regional and online consultations.

Costa Rica working to improve Access Tourism

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Accessible Tourism is growing in Costa Rica writes Shannon Farley. So far, reports are positive from tourists who have enjoyed accessible vacations in the country. Some of the top Costa Rica tours that are wheelchair-friendly include Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram near Jacó Beach, Monteverde Cloud Forest Train in Monteverde, Lankester Botanical Garden near Cartago, and Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure near Limon in the Caribbean region.

Several of Costa Rica’s national parks and tour attractions either have fully accessible designs or have added elements that are wheelchair-friendly and designed for people of all abilities.  Carara National Park opened the country’s first “universal access” trail in the rainforest in May this year (2013). The trail is made of permeable concrete and provides easy access for persons in wheelchairs and elderly visitors, with special ramps and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. There are information signs in Braille, along with wooden sculptures of animals, for visually impaired visitors to touch at nine stations along the 1.2 km (3/4 mile) loop trail; an audio guide also is available.

Poás Volcano National Park, in the Central Valley, is also completely accessible with paved walkways, ramps and information aids. Visitors can go right to the volcano’s immense 1.7-kilometer-wide crater and viewpoint. Irazú Volcano National Park is mostly accessible due to its relatively flat terrain by the main crater and concrete walkway leading from the parking area to the first crater viewpoint; there are plans for more improvements.

Since national parks are public places, and Costa Rica’s Equal Opportunities Law for Persons with Disabilities requires disabled access in hotels and other public places, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) is investigating how they can make more of Costa Rica’s national parks accessible to people of all abilities. There are plans to improve Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Pacific Coast, Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, and Guayabo National Monument in Turrialba.

NZ Government review of building access for people with disabilities

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The Beehive government of New Zealand building exterior

Several news sources (1, 2, 3, 4, for example) are reporting that a New Zealand Government review into building access for disabled people has begun.  Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson and Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia said the review will look at how the standard which outlines how people with disabilities can access buildings aligns with the Building Code and how the code represents the needs of disabled people.  Williamson said that the work “has come out of recent announcements on earthquake-prone building policy, particularly around upgrading buildings with regard to access for disabled people”.  Mr Williamson said that “buildings that don’t give access to people with a disability pretty much exclude them from participation and a whole lot of things in life from both working and living and even accessing it if it’s a service provider type building.” Turia said that it is not acceptable that disabled people are excluded from working and living in buildings because the access is inadequate, unsafe or not suitable, and that the building code needs to be brought up to date.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is leading the review of Standard 4121 and would look at the regulatory situation and consult with interest groups.  This follows objections raised by the New Zealand disabilities communities that a Royal Commission on the Canterbury Earthquakes recommended the obligation to include disabled access in building upgrades be removed because of concerns around the costs it would impose on building owners. Up to 25,000 buildings are expected to need earthquake strengthening after the Canterbury earthquakes.  The Royal Commission recommendation to remove the obligation to upgrade access and fire escapes in line with the building code angered those in the disabilities communities.

Update: There is now a petition the Government to “urgently take all appropriate measures to ensure full access to public and commercial buildings for disabled people especially for new buildings in the Christchurch rebuild.”

Uruguay: government developing accessible tourism

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Flag of Uruguay

The Ministry of Tourism in Uruguay has launched an ambitious plan to make its tourist offerings more accessible to the disabled thanks to the support of Spain’s Fundacion ONCE (a non-profit), which on Wednesday participated in Montevideo in a conference (9-11 October) on the subject with the collaboration of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).  The Ibero-American Conference on Awareness and Strategic Training on Accessibility in the Tourism Sector was inaugurated by Tourism Minister Liliam Kechichian and Fundacion ONCE’s Enrique Garcia.  The first cooperative venture between the Ministry and Fundacion ONCE took place 1995.  The conference was organized to raise awareness and provide strategic and technical training in the field of accessibility in the tourism sector.  The themes included strategic and operational planning, innovation and accessibility in tourism, legislation, standards and best practice, quality and certification of the accessible tourism offer, and the economic impact of accesible tourism.   The National Director of Tourism, Benjamin Liberoff, spoke about  “Legislation, standards, and certification”, with Maria Medina of Via Libre.

Minister Kechichian said that providing greater access to tourism opportunities for disabled people is “an issue of the highest importance” because tourism is “a right.”   In addition, such an undertaking responds not only to the development strategy of the sector, which is one of the country’s economic engines, but also to the profile of the Uruguayan public, which is the oldest in Latin America.  “Uruguay has a demographic pyramid that obliges us to think about accessibility,” said the minister, recalling that according to the last census, “10 percent of the citizenry have some kind of disability.”  Fundacion ONCE’s Garcia emphasized the importance of undertaking comprehensive work in the tourist area that includes transportation facilities, as well as projects to increase access to leisure spots such as beaches, museums, restaurants and hotels.

With 3.3 million inhabitants, Uruguay has a number of attractive tourist spots such as its seaside resorts, the best known of which is Punta del Este.  It also has wide cultural offerings in the capital and lovely rural areas in the country’s interior (Latin America Herald Tribune).

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights launches toolkit for coordinating online rights initiatives

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Logo for  EU Agency for Fundamental Rights

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched a practical online toolkit for local, regional and national public officials entitled “Joining up fundamental rights”.   The publication offers support to policy makers and practitioners who seek to coordinate online rights initiatives across the government and to implement them together with local authorities and civil society.   It draws on the practical experiences of hundreds of local, regional and national government officials, policy makers and practitioners across the EU and offers hands-on advice, tools, and checklists for self-assessment on how to integrate fundamental rights thinking into policy development, service delivery and administrative practices.  It is divided into five broad topics:

1. Understanding fundamental rights

2. Coordination and leadership

3. Communicating fundamental rights

4. Participation and civil society

5. Planning, monitoring and evaluation

Users can give feedback on the toolkit and contribute their own good practice project to it.    The toolkit is being rolled out in workshops with practitioners throughout Europe. To participate or host a workshop in your organisation, contact: joinedup@fra.europa.eu.  Public officials are encouraged to link from their website to the toolkit at: http://fra.europa.eu/en/joinedup/home.

UN General Assembly holds first-ever high-level meeting on disability

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United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting adopts document seeking to promote disability-inclusive development, redress absence of disability Rights from the Millennium Development Goals

The UN General Assembly has adopted a landmark outcome document ( A/68/L.1) aimed at promoting disability-inclusive development during its first-ever high-level meeting on that topic (23/9/2013).  Assembly President John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) underlined the text’s significance as the instrument to guide efforts towards the creation of a fully inclusive society through 2015 and beyond.  “Given the size of such a marginalized group, the onus is on us all to ensure that any future sustainable development goals include the disabled,” said Ashe.  He pointed out the absence of any reference to people with disabilities in all eight Millennium Development Goals. The international community had now realized that it would be impossible to meet development targets, including the Millennium Goals, without incorporating the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities.

By the text adopted, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their resolve to work together for disability-inclusive development and for the international community’s commitment to advancing the rights of all persons with disabilities, which was deeply rooted in the goals of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  World leaders also underlined the need for urgent action by all relevant stakeholders towards the adoption and implementation of more ambitious disability-inclusive national development strategies, while expressing their resolve to undertake various commitments to address barriers, including those relating to education, health care, employment, legislation, societal attitudes, as well as the physical environment and information and communications technology.

The text urged the United Nations system as well as Member States to stay engaged in efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond. It encouraged the international community to seize every opportunity to include disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda, including the emerging post-2015 United Nations development framework.

Ashe noted that people with physical, sensory, mental and intellectual disabilities were “the world’s largest minority”, numbering more than 1 billion. “They are a diverse and varied group, each with unique gifts and abilities, and each with unique challenges,” he said. “They teach us not only lessons about love and respect, but also about persevering against the odds.”  He went on to say that 134 countries had ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the Assembly in 2006.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon quoted International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics showing that excluding disabled persons could cost economies as much as 7% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Following the opening segment, the Assembly held two round-table discussions, the first on “International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability inclusive development”, and the second on “The post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities”.  The General Assembly  reconvened  on 24 September, to begin its general debate.

The Global Economics of Disability: a market the size of China

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Wheelchair user

The latest publication about the global market of people with disabilities (PWD) from Fifth Quadrant Analytics is Sustainable Value Creation Through Disability: The Global Economics of Disability. The report points out that this is a market that:

  • Comprises 1.3 billion people
  • Is the size of China
  • When friends and family are considered, increases by 2.2 billion people
  • Altogether controls over US$8 trillion in annual disposable income globally
  • In the USA is three times the size of the Hispanic market
  • Is being added to daily by wealthy Baby Boomers who have increasing disability with age.  In the US, there are 77 million Boomers who control an annual spending power of over US$2 trillion.  Above age 65, these Boomers have a disability prevalence of almost 52%.
  • Is now being included in strategies and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) mandates by companies and investors seeking to make additional returns in a market rewarding innovation
  • 31% of the largest US companies have publicly observable activity in relation to, and 7% of these demonstrate measurable effort
  • 34% of the largest Canadian public companies indicate interest in, and 10% demonstrate measurable effort
  • Requires low levels of additional investment
  • Is part of the regulatory landscape that cannot be ignored without risk
  • Speaks to the fact that consumers of all ages and types now prefer brands that are inclusive, socially aware and which act in-line with their values as consumers and employees

The report points out that in spite of these factors, business has yet to discover disability as an emerging market. While the concept of diversity is now commonplace in large corporate entities, diversity as an end in itself is viewed sceptically by most corporate leaders, as they struggle to link a diverse workforce to improved financial performance. The intent of the publication is to inform those grappling with how to position their products and services in the PWD market by establishing a set of common statistical measures of its size and features and describing the top issues facing participants in the PWD market. Managers should use this document internally to inform their sales and product development teams, provoke discussion with business functions, and launch fresh products and services serving the PWD market.  This market comprises not only current and future PWDs, but also any person needing better access, such as caregivers with strollers, persons with heavy bags, and less agile members of society.  In addition, technology and process that benefits PWD, can and does evolve into technology and process that benefits all consumers. A mobile device can function as a translator, but also as a navigation tool to find the shortest route to a particular product in the supermarket. Cross-over applications are the ‘holy grail’ of business/disability efforts, and will drive growth in disability-related capital spending.

The report concludes by looking at the need for practical consumer research and business-driven process in this market.  Today, there are many hypotheses, hunches and intuitive theories of how PWD act and think, but there is no rigorous research to prove or disprove them. The methodologies exist and are applied daily to segments outside disability. The same methods must now be pointed at disability.

Author Rich Donovan is on Twitter at @richdonnovannyc

17-19 July: Sixth session of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Participants at a United nations meeting

The sixth session of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place in New York from 17- 19 July and will focus on standard of living.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006 and came into force on 3 May 2008. Since then States Parties to the Convention have met in five sessions at UN Headquarters in New York, to address issues regarding the implementation of the Convention, as well as share experiences and best practices.

This year, the sixth session will be held from 17-19 July that will focus on the ways to ensure and adequate standard of living and the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Thematic discussions will include economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies; disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes, and community-based rehabilitation and habilitation for inclusive society.

A day prior to the Conference, a Civil Society Forum will be organized by non-governmental organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities, with the support of DESA, to network and share experiences in implementing the Convention.

This annual Conference is fast developing into the largest international disability meeting that includes high-level representation from Government ministries, UN system organizations, civil society organizations, academia, the private sector and other stakeholders. In conjunction with the Conferences held at UN Headquarters in 2011 and 2012, over 35 side-events, covering a range of disability issues, were conducted by the stakeholders, during each of the two and a half-day sessions.

For more information: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1606

Free App: Human Rights Resources Portal welcomes input

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Guest blog by Russell Hampton: Hampton is the Director of The Conservation Volunteers in Scotland but also manages the Human Rights Resources Portal of the KKConsulting website of Kay Hampton, a Professor of Communities and Race Relations and a Commissioner for the Scottish Human Rights Commission. There is an established relationship between Human Rights and a quality of Environment which is often now talked about in terms of Climate Justice.

KKConsulting App on a mobile phone

The Human Rights Resources Portal on the KKConsulting website now includes Access Tourism NZ in its Directories. Awareness of information on Human Rights and related issues such as Equality and Discrimination which includes equality in access to services so admirably championed by Sandra Rhodda in New Zealand, is the founding principle of our website service.

Social Media has become an important part of distributing that information and encourages all to participate in debate and share knowledge.  KKConsulting is  pleased to say that we have launched a free App that delivers news from all over the world on all the key Human Rights issues.  The App includes a Twitter feed tuned to contributors that we follow @BlogKKC as well as Video Links and a powerful search engine that specifically searches for organisations and content within the Portal. This helps to reduce the pages of Google search results that you may have to wade through to get to what you really want….the App does that work for you! Most of the countries of the world that have Organisations with a web presence are listed and you can access them directly from within the App. There is a Library of Books, Reports and Articles from significant authors that give in-depth information on Human Rights. You can even submit your own document for inclusion!

And finally but I think very importantly, I would like to encourage a Community of App users that can share knowledge, conversations and photos of their Community or work. The App may never be as widespread as Facebook or Google+ but think how it would feel to part of a Group with a specific interest!

The App is available in iPhone and Android versions which will give you functionality native to your device. However there is also what is called a Web App version which is essentially a mini-website version of the App for non iPhone or Android devices. Here are all the download links for the ‘Human Rights Resources’ App…

iPhone… https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/human-rights-resources/id639409566?mt=8

Android… https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.appbuilder.u262224p460333 (Google Play)
or http://apps.samsung.com/venus/topApps/topAppsDetail.as?productId=000000598364 (Samsung Apps)

Web App Version… http://ibuildapp.com/projects.php?action=info&projectid=449760

Govt of Spain, Fundacion ONCE collaborate in developing accessible tourism in Spain

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Church door in Spain

Spain’s State Society for Innovation Management and Tourism Technologies (SEGITTUR) of the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism, and Fundacion ONCE (Spain’s largest disabilities NGO) have signed an agreement under which the two will collaborate on the implementation of initiatives aimed at the internationalization of accessible tourism. Their goal is to bring tourism to the 200 million people in Europe who currently miss out, i.e., people with disabilities and those who would travel with them. SEGITTUR President Antonio Lopez de Avila, and the CEO of ONCE Foundation, José Luis Martínez Donoso stressed that  investing in accessible tourism creates a point of difference that will bring competitive advantage.

“Accessibility is good for everyone said the president of SEGITTUR after signing the agreement. “You have to turn it into a competitive advantage.”  For his part, Martinez Donoso referred to the need to build accessible tourism. He said that accessible tourism will to not only appeal to the 4 million people with disabilities in Spain but also to the 40 million in Europe.  In his opinion, “Spain could attract 20 million tourists by ensuring accessibility.”

ONCE and SEGITTUR are to cooperate in designing plans for Accessible Tourism development, advising governments in drafting legislation and standards specific to accessibility, and will provide technical assistance in the development of infrastructure projects and tourism facilities.   They will also work on designing training plans for operators involved in accessible tourism, guides conducting accessible tours, accessibility validation of tourism products, and the design and development of accessible web pages.   In addition, another development included in the agreement relates to the implementation of technologies for accessible tourism, development of accessible applications for smartphones, and the conducting of audits of accessibility.

For SEGITTUR’s president, this agreement will help tourist destinations achieve an optimal level of accessibility and thus visitation, and is an essential element in the development of Intelligent Tourist Destinations. Lopez de Avila stressed that accessible tourism brings advantages and benefits as it is a factor of social inclusion; it is important legally since tourism is a right; and it is important economically since this is a market segment of 200 million people in Europe alone.

Source: In Spanish here. (Please forgive any translation mistakes, above!)

 

UNWTO updating “Accessible Tourism for All” recommendations

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At the recent UN Twelfth Meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (Madrid, March 2013), the committee discussed the on-going updating of the 2005 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recommendations on “Accessible Tourism for All”. The revised Recommendations will be submitted for approval to the upcoming UNWTO General Assembly next August.  Accessibility is a key area of UNWTO’s work in sustainable tourism development.  Committee members also welcomed the production of a “Manual on Developing Universal Accessibility”, a result of UNWTO’s collaboration with the Spanish Fundacion ONCE , the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and the ACS Foundation, expected to be available later this year.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the impartial body responsible for interpreting, applying and evaluating the provisions of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET). A subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly, the Committee reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.  Adopted in 1999 by the UNWTO General Assembly and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001, the UNWTO GCET is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts.

Social Tourism organisations are fulfilling a vital need by connecting PwDs with accessible tourism products.

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Ivor Ambrose, Managing Director of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) writes in the latest issue of Le Tourisme Social dans le Monde (Social Tourism International 154: 5-6) about the important role of the Social Tourism sector in enabling hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities (PwDs) and their families to have accessible holidays.  Social Tourism International is produced by OITS-ISTO, an organisation with the express purpose of promoting access to tourism for all.  ENAT, which works with OITS-ISTO, offers training and guidance to overcome the gaps in knowledge and awareness about accessibility among tourism businesses, their managers and staff.  Ambrose points out that the European market for PwD tourism is 134 million people (27% of the European population) when family and friends are included.  “Often their needs and requirements are unknown or misunderstood; investment costs are accordingly exaggerated. And with a dominating focus on “compliance” with laws and regulations, accessibility is seen mainly as a problem for businesses, rather than a golden opportunity” writes Ambrose. “Fundamentally, there needs to be a change of attitude in the tourism industry, recognising that guests of all ages and abilities are part of every tourism segment.”