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

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Canadian Flag

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

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

The standard applies to the following terminals and carriers:

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

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

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

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

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Website Accessibility: A New Frontier Of Inclusion

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

Website front page with audio

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

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

UK Disabled Access Guide

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

NickAlmond

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

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

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

UK CAA new tougher airport, airline disabilities information provision requirements

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The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently set tougher requirements on airports and airlines concerning information they must provide disabled passengers (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html).   Requirements concern

  • making essential information available to consumers in an accessible format
  • information should be provided on a single web page one click away from the home page of the operator’s website or on webpages directly accessible from a single ‘landing’ webpage one click away from the home page
  • content should be presented in a clear and easy to understand way and accessible for passengers with impairments such as blindness or low vision, deafness or hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, restricted movement, photosensitivity or any combination of these.
  • the design of websites should take into consideration existing international guidelines on website accessibility
  • airports must publish information on the assistance provided at the airport and how to obtain this assistance;  information on the layout of the airport, on quality standards and airport security,  handling of mobility equipment and assistance dogs, the telephone number and opening hours of the airport’s helpline for enquiries from Passengers with Reduced Mobility and other disabilities, and information on how to complain.

Airlines must publish information on:

  • safety restrictions
  • seating on-board
  • fitness to fly
  • when a carer will be required
  • accessibility and use of lavatories, and
  • compensation for damaged or lost mobility devices.

“This is a giant leap forward in terms of quality, quantity, and accessibility of information available to passengers with disabilities,” Reduced Mobility Rights Director Roberto Castiglioni said (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html). 

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

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

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.

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

USA: New air travel access rules will affect all airlines servicing the US, including Air New Zealand

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Arrival signs at airport

A new rule issued by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) will affect any airline servicing the US including New Zealand’s Air New Zealand.  The DOT ruling means that airlines servicing the US will need to improve access for people with disabilities or anyone else who needs it to core travel information and services on their websites and airport kiosks.  The rule is part of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and will come into effect on 12 December 2013. Airline website pages for booking and changing reservations will need to be accessible. Within two years, these pages must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA, with entire website compliance required within three years.  US airlines that carry more than 10,000 passengers per year must ensure that all new automated check-in kiosks installed three or more years after the rule’s effective date meet access requirements (mediaccess.org.au). The minimum requirement is for at least 25 per cent of kiosks in each location to be accessible. These goals must be met within ten years of the rule’s effective date.   The new federal regulation also requires ticket agents to provide applicable web-based fare discounts to customers with a disability who cannot use an agent’s websites. This ruling is required on or after 180 days of the regulation’s effective date of 12 December 2013.

In addition, DOT will allow airlines to choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment on new aircraft or strapping them to a row of seats, an option that will ensure that two manual, folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time.

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.

Good practice guide to creating an accessible stadium and matchday experience

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Soccer ball in front of a goal public domain image

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) based in Switzerland has produced a guide entitled Access for all: UEFA and CAFÉ good practice guide to creating an accessible stadium and matchday experience.  The 115 page publication has extensive information on what makes good access at football venues, including approaching and leaving the stadium, moving around in the stadium, access to information, access in viewing areas, and amenities, and training in disabilities issues.  It also discusses why good access is important, the different models of disability, equality legislation, accessibility auditing and planning.

There are more than 80 million disabled people living in the European Union alone (equivalent to the populations of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, and the Netherlands combined).  The UEFA estimates that about 500,000 of these are likely to be active football spectators, a number the charity CAFÉ  (Access to Football in Europe) thinks will rise considerably with improved stadium access.  In addition, one in four Europeans has a family member with a disability, while 60% know someone who is disabled.  This is a big fan base and a big market.  In 2009, the UEFA donated its Monaco Charity Award to the National Association for Disabled Supporters (now known as the Level Playing Field) to help establish CAFÉ.  CAFÉ was created to “ensure disabled supporters across the UEFA’s 53 member associations can enjoy attending football matches and to make it a problem-free and inclusive experience for all”.  CAFÉ cooperated with organisations such as the European Commission Committee for Standardization (CEN) to ensure a pan-Euro approach to building standards and good practice for sports stadiums.

Follow on Twitter: @UEFAcom @cafefootball @lpftweets @Standards4EU

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.

New Irish standard on Universal Design for customer engagement in tourism services

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Overview of the toolkit

The Irish standard (I.S.) 373:2013 entitled, ‘Universal Design for customer engagement in tourism services: Business case and overview” is available as a toolkit on the National Standards Authority of Ireland website.  The toolkit was developed by Dolmen (www.dolmen.ie) on behalf of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority, Ireland (NDI). It was developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders involved in the tourism industry. It is part of a series that includes toolkits about written communication, face-to-face and video communication, and electronic and web-based communication (see the Tools and Strategies page for links under Centre for Excellence in Universal Design). The Irish Standard, which is voluntary, provides an industry best-practice reference on design requirements for the application of Universal Design by Tourism Service Providers. It outlines Universal Design requirements that facilitate positive customer engagement through the provision of products and services for communications that can be easily accessed, understood and used by tourism customers.  This Irish Standard is intended to enable tourism providers to communicate more effectively with a wider range of tourists and has the potential to grow the tourist market for Irish tourism. Universal Design for customer engagement extends beyond a focus on disability and special needs to include all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

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

Tourism Victoria releases accessible tourism resource kit for the tourism industry

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Front cover of Accessible Tourism its your business

Tourism Victoria, with the support of the Office for Disability at the Department of Human Services, has released Accessible tourism: it’s your business, a new accessibility resource kit to raise awareness and support the Victorian tourism industry to become more accessible and inclusive.  One in five Australians have a disability and A$8 billion is spent each year on Australian tourism by travellers with a disability – this figure does not include spend accompanying travelling companions.  The Kit was created with particular attention to the needs of tourism businesses, regional tourism boards and associations and visitor information centres, incorporates best practices drawn from similar resources internationally, most notably At Your Service, a resource created by VisitEngland to improve accessibility for customers in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Broken into seven chapters, topics include:

  • The common barriers preventing a tourism businesses from being accessible
  • Marketing an accessible business
  • Tips for assessing a building and facilities
  • Developing an access statement
  • Integrating accessibility into a business plan
  • Integrating accessible features into digital listings

Tourism businesses can use the Kit to:

  • Increase their knowledge about the market for accessible tourism
  • Identify barriers, gaps and areas of improvement
  • Develop strategies to incorporate access into their core business
  • Improve and better target the marketing and promotion of their business

Tourism boards and associations can use this kit to:

  • Provide leadership to the tourism industry in their region
  • Plan and deliver a coordinated regional approach to accessible tourism
  • Support local tourism businesses to promote and market their accessibility

Visitor Information Centres can use the Kit to:

  • Provide positive first impressions to visitors
  • Promote accessible local businesses and attractions
  • Encourage local businesses and attractions to become more accessible

Local government can use this kit to:

  • Bring together, support and promote accessible businesses, festivals, events and open spaces to create a holistic approach to accessible tourism
  • Incorporate accessible tourism into Council’s broader tourism, business and economic development strategies and plans
  • Link tourism businesses to relevant local grant, award and accreditation schemes

State government departments and statutory authorities can use this kit to:

  • Support accessible tourism related activities within their area of responsibility
  • Promote the importance of accessible tourism to staff and funded organisations

The publication of this Kit follows Tourism Victoria’s Accessible Tourism Plan which aims to encourage the Victorian tourism industry to see the social and economic benefits of offering tourism products and services for people with access requirements.   The Plan aims to:

  • Increasing industry awareness and understanding of the accessibility needs of tourists
  • Encouraging new and existing product to capitalise on the benefits of providing accessible tourism
  • Disseminating information on accessible tourism products and attractions

New Zealand will contravene the UN Convention on Human Rights with new rule on building upgrades after Christchurch earthquakes

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Damaged cathedral Christchurch earthquake

Leading New Zealand human rights and disability lawyer Huhana Hickey says that  New Zealand will contravene the UN Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a signatory, if it goes ahead with a change to the building code which removes the requirement to fit buildings with disabled access and facilities when doing earthquake strengthening.  So reports Lisa Gossage on the Infrastructure website. Under current regulation, councils cannot issue consents for strengthening works unless the owner upgrades the building’s disabled access and fire escapes in line with the building code. The Royal Commission on the Canterbury Earthquakes has recommended this obligation 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.  Disabled advocacy groups are already putting in reports to the UN to complain about New Zealand’s discriminatory treatment of disabled people.  “Going backwards on disabled access is not just bad economics it is also cruel. There are currently hundreds of thousands of disabled people who are contributing significantly to New Zealand’s economy and many thousands of disabled children and young people whose ambition is to do the same. This proposed building code amendment would literally shut doors in their faces and make them even more isolated than many are already,” says Dr Hickey, referring to the possible removal of the requirement to make buildings accessible when doing earthquake strengthening works.

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!)

 

UK: New website helps tourism businesses succeed in providing accessible services

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Portrait of Brian M Seaman

Brian Seaman, who has spent 20 years looking at issues in Accessible Tourism and helping businesses of all sizes to make their facilities more welcoming for all guests, has a new website.  Accessible Outlook  has been set up to further this work.

Seaman has listened to thousands of people who have firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can be to travel, find somewhere suitable to stay, places to visit, or places to eat.  He has parlayed this information into a form useful to working groups, access groups, access auditors, advisors, business management and staff, and the tourism industry through official channels.  In all his work, he has involved disabled people in every aspect.   His expertise is supported by his knowledge of the British Building Regulations and British Standards.  He has also worked full-time for the past 19 years for the national charity Tourism for All UK and has seen many changes during this time.

The website has useful links to such things as creating Access Statements, making website and printed information accessible, safety, creating accessible transport, accommodation, and attractions, and the National Accessible Scheme (a scheme in England which rates visitor accommodation for access).   Visit the website here or follow Brian on Twitter (@BrianMSeaman)