Tourism and Disabled Access Day in Scotland, 2016

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The UK has a Disabled Access Day, an annual national initiative created to raise awareness of the importance of disabled access and started in 2015.  In 2016, it will be held on 12 March.  The day aims to encourage disabled people, their friends and families to visit somewhere new and over 50 venues across the UK, including Westminster Abbey, Tate Modern and The Scottish Parliament, have already signed up to be involved.  In Scotland, a launch event was held in October 2015 at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Public Health, in attendance.  This marked the beginning of the lead up to the second annual event, building on the 2015 result when over 200 companies and venues took part, including VisitScotland, BT, Caffè Nero, Caffé Concerto and Barclays. The events attracted over 1,000 disabled people and their families, friends and carers.

Venues can take part in the 2016 event by hosting an event or simply opening their doors to show that they welcome disabled visitors and their friends and families. Whether it is a cinema, hotel or visitor attraction, there are plenty of ways for businesses to get involved. For further information on how to get involved, please visit: http://www.disabledaccessday.com/get-involved/

The Scottish Government is providing VisitScotland with £38,000 (this on top of other funding; this for example) to boost the engagement of disabled and older people in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.  Scotland’s Minister for Business Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP said that these funds will support a series of new and enhanced partner projects, each of which will contribute to the wider Accessible Tourism Drive, contributing to the Innovation and Architecture themes of the 2016 year and creating a legacy whose benefits will be felt well into the future as the accessible tourism project rolls-out.

Chris McCoy, Head of VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme, said: “We are delighted to lend our support to next year’s Disabled Access Day as part of our ongoing Accessible Tourism Programme. I would encourage businesses to sign up to take part as we look to make this country a fully accessible destination.”  An overwhelming 94% of disabled people would revisit a venue that has good accessibility, according to a survey carried out by Euan’s Guide, the main sponsors of Disabled Access Day. With the UK’s 12 million disabled people estimated to have a combined spending power of over £200 billion, venues with poor disabled access or information are potentially missing out on gaining a significant amount of revenue.

Euan MacDonald, co-founder of the disabled access reviews website, EuansGuide.com said, “The success of last year’s event has given us a firm foundation to build on. Not only are we raising awareness of disabled access, but also showcasing the venues with good accessibility and highlighting the commercial value held by the UK’s 12 million disabled people and their family, friends and carers.”

Source: Edinburgh Reporter.  Follow on Twitter:  @Access_Day @VisitScotland @EuansGuide   For more information on Disabled Action Day, please visit: www.disabledaccessday.com

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Cyprus action plan on accessible tourism

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File:20061019 Episkopi Bay.jpg

The Republic of Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is preparing an action plan to provide people with disabilities accessible holidays in the country.  CTO recognizes this as a big market.  During a conference held last week, CTO Deputy Director Annita Demetriades said that accessible tourism is not for a small group of people.  “In the EU, there are about 138 million people with increased accessibility needs, usually traveling for holidays during the low seasons. Disabled-friendly infrastructure and services give our island a positive image, enhance the quality of our tourist product and show our tangible respect for our fellow people,” she added.  Demetriades noted that accessible tourism ensures more people get the opportunity to travel. “Undoubtedly Cyprus is an attractive tourist destination, so the tourist industry stands to get more visitors, who prefer to travel off-peak periods,” she said.

According to data, in 2012 direct revenue from accessible tourism in the EU amounted to €352 billion, giving employment to 4.2 million people. Taking into account the multiplier effect, total turnover increases to €786 billion. Studies indicate that improving accessibility could lead to a 24.2% increase in demand and 18% increase in the spending of European tourists by 2020.

The CTO is creating the infrastructure on 37 beaches making swimming experience for the disabled more comfortable. Specifically, 11 of the 37 beaches are fully equipped for this purpose. In addition, the CTO now has a grant scheme for hotel units which upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate guests with disabilities.

Source: In-Cyprus.  Follow on Twitter: @visitcyprus

Spain: Survey of Accessible Tourism

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Flag_of_Spain.svg

ONCE Foundation for cooperation and social Inclusion of disabled people is Spain’s leading disabilities foundation (Fundacion ONCE). Since 2011, the Universal Accessibility Directorate of the Foundation has been running multiple researches on Universal Accessibility in different environments such as urban planning, transport, and beyond. During 2015 and 2016 the Observatory will focus the research on the situation of Accessible Tourism in Spain. Accessible tourism accommodates not only people with disabilities, but families with children, people with trolleys, bags, and with special needs over a lifetime.

Spain welcomes over 53 million international tourists a year and tourist activity is 10.9% of GDP. Current tourism trends show an increased sophistication of supply and demand, the presence of older tourists, and the ever increasing demand for quality.   The Foundation has created a questionnaire for tourists who have travelled to Spain. Data gathered by this research will help analyse consumers’ habits and diagnose the state of accessibility in tourism facilities. The survey has questions about frequency of travel, preferred destinations in Spain, means of transport, and other factors. In addition, there are questions about satisfaction with adaptation of tourist facilities, resources and services regarding the needs of travellers.

This questionnaire is open to ALL TOURISTS, whether having a disability or not, who want to participate in this study and wish to contribute regarding their travelling experience. It can be found here: http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20150909648/TheNews/once-foundation-launch-survey-on-spanish-accessible-tourism
Source: Reduced Mobility. Follow on Twitter: @ReducedMobility @Fundacion_ONCE @ILUNION

CanGoEverywhere: One-stop-shop for accessible tourism in Australia

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Melissa James is the CEO of Inclusive Tourism, the parent of CanGoEverywhere.com.au. in Australia.  She has built up a wealth of knowledge in the accessible tourism space.  She provides advice and support to operators wanting to implement change within their businesses.  By helping them to identify barriers and implement simple, inexpensive improvements she enables them to maximize accessibility.  Melissa is also a sought after speaker who addresses many business groups, educating them on the practical elements, as well as the economic and social benefits of being accessible. CanGoEverywhere logo

Back in 2012 I had some first-hand experience travelling with a person with a disability.  It was quite the eye opener and after listening to many stories of the difficulties my friend had trying to find accessible places I decided to do something to help.    I did some research in my local area and found that 84% of accommodation providers had accessible rooms.  I then followed them up with a short questionnaire and almost 71% of those respondents said they would be interested in listing their properties on a website promoting accessible tourism.

This gave me the impetus to create CanGoEverywhere.com.au.  It has been designed to be the ‘one stop shop’ for accessible tourism in Australia.  It caters to seniors and baby boomers, the less mobile, people with disabilities as well as families and groups.  It provides information on accommodation, restaurants, tourist attractions, service providers and more.     The database has basic information on over 9,000 records of accommodation and restaurants that say they are accessible, but the level of accessibility is unknown.

However, the real value is with the businesses that have chosen to become ‘Premium Providers’.   Premium providers undergo an assessment and the information gathered is included in their listing on the website.  This is the key to making it easy for people to choose the best fit for them.  The website is growing steadily with more and more tourism providers taking up premium listings and more and more people using it to help them plan their holidays.

We’re also keen to hear from people who have been travelling and would like to share their experiences with others.   If you’d like to send in a story just email to travel@cangoeverywhere.com – we may even feature it on our blog.

Source: CanGoEverywhere.com.au Follow on Twitter: @CanGoEverywhere

EC grant helps VisitEngland to expand its Access For All initiative

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Dover (62)

VisitEngland has a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission to expand its “Access for All” initiative.   This follows a successful pilot project in 2013-14 with four destinations: VisitBath, goLeicestershire, NewcastleGateshead, and VisitBrighton.   The current project is partnering with Visit Kent, Marketing Birmingham, Visit Lincoln, Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, Experience Nottinghamshire and VisitBrighton to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs.  The project has been running for almost a year now.  It comprises two phases: product development, where businesses are supported in improving their accessibility with the help of access advisors Access New Business , and a national consumer marketing campaign.

Over 50 tourism businesses are being directly supported as part of the project to improve their accessibility. Each business has received:

A second national marketing campaign will be launched in this month (September 2015).   The campaign aims to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, improving perceptions of Accessible England.

Source: press release.  Follow on Twitter:  @VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @BrianMSeaman

Lonely Planet wants your accessible travel information

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Tourist in a wheelchair having her photo taken

Here is a great opportunity to get your access information in front of a worldwide travel organisation.   Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager at Lonely Planet is in the process of compiling a global database of useful websites for people travelling with access issues, whether through disability, injury or old age. He has already amassed dozens of useful links, but is interested in resources at a national and city level that he is unaware of.  If you have knowledge of online resources that may be useful to people travelling to your region, Martin would be very grateful if you could share some of your local knowledge with him for the benefit of countless travellers worldwide. You can drop him a line at travelforall@lonelyplanet.com.au with the address of any website that you think might be useful and a brief description of what the site offers. If you’re time poor, please just send him a link and he will follow it up himself. It could be a link to a local government access page, a public transport journey planner that has accessible filters, a business that offers accessible tours or someone’s personal blog that you’ve found useful or inspiring – he is potentially interested in anything and everything.

Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng

Tips for travelling in Barcelona for people with disabilities

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Guest blog: Julian Montero is a full time wheelchair user who is part of the management team at Barcelona Zero Limits(BZL).  BZL is an inbound travel operator (ITO) based in Barcelona, created to encourage inclusive cultural and gastronomy tourism in Barcelona and its surroundings.   They specialize in tourism for people with mobility problems, seniors and people with food allergies, and for anyone interested in a fabulous tour!  In this guest blog, Julian shares some tips for helping you to enjoy your travel to Barcelona. Julian wheeling in Barcelona

Tips for travelling in Barcelona for people with disabilitieshttp://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz/ #A11y #Trava11y @bcnzerolimits @VisitBCN_EN

1. How can I get to the city from the airport?  From the airport to downtown, you can easily get public transport without needing to take the shuttle airpot or taxi. With the 46 bus that leaves from Terminal 1 and at Terminal 2 you will reach “Plaça Espanya” in 20 minutes and from there you can move around the city quickly. Another alternative is the train from Terminal 2 and goes directly to Plaza Catalunya, the center of the city.

2.How can I move around the city?

Barcelona has an extensive metro and bus network that will take you to every corner of the city. A metro or bus ticket costs 2.15€ per trip, but the Barcelona Metropolitan Transportation (TMB) service offers discount travel cards. Travel cards can be purchased from metro ticket booths or Tourist Information offices.    Most of the buses on the bus network are wheelchair accessible. However the metro is a quicker way to move around the city. Most of the stations are wheelchair friendly, however we recommend you to get a metro map with the accessible stations information. You can download the map from the following link:  http://www.tmb.cat/ca/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=c8996f6c-8ad5-4d21-b59b-faf9fceebd80&groupId=10168

3. When is the best time of the year to visit Barcelona?

The best time to visit Barcelona is the month of November, after the all saints bank holiday and before the end of the month. This is the time of year when there are fewer tourists (be realistic, there are always many tourists in Barcelona, do not expect to be the only one!).  The prices of the hotels in Barcelona then are usually cheaper than during the rest of the year. Moreover you will find shorter queues!

4. Where to eat?

Avoid eating in crowded tourist areas, especially in the Ramblas, where everything is much more expensive. Just move a little to find much better prices especially for drinks. Neighbourhoods like Gracia and Borne offer alternatives with a much better price / quality deal than Las Ramblas or Plaza Catalunya.   Another good option is to eat in La Barceloneta, a neighbourhood with a port atmosphere built in the 18th century to provide shelter for the inhabitants of La Ribera. This neighbourhood is frequented by locals on weekends for eating and accessing its popular beach, Playa de la Barceloneta.

5. What to eat?

In Barcelona we like to walk and eat. It’s a local tradition to go from bar to bar enjoying the best snacks while drinking a beer or a classic vermouth, a drink  we recommend you to taste …it is sweet but bitter, stimulates the appetite and prepares the stomach to enjoy anchovies, pickles, and finally, a few colourful tapas.    Barcelona offers its streets and terraces to enjoy a few hours of one of its most deeply rooted and beloved culinary traditions.

6. Can I go to the beach?

Do not forget to to visit the beaches and enjoy the sun and the food.  Barceloneta is the first of Barcelona’s beaches, the one closest to the city and usually the liveliest.   The beach is fully accessible with a bathing assistance service. This service is intended for people with mobility problems, and aims to facilitate the entry and exit of the water to enjoy bathing time using – if necessary – an amphibious chair.   This area has walkways to the water, a suitable changing area, sit-down shower and a lifting crane. This allows anyone to swim in the Mediterranean with the help of volunteers.

7. Free Museums:

The first Sunday of the month, some local Barcelona museums offer free entry.   Some are free on Sundays ( Barcelona City History Museum at Plaça del Rei, Picasso Museum on Montcada 15-23,  Maritime Museum of Barcelona Avenida Drassanes).

8. What to do that is different?

If you want to see Barcelona from a different perspective and enjoy the city like you’ve never done it, you can book a tour of Barcelona, such as a gourmet tour, and enjoy the Mediterranean Cuisine and Tapas. Learn about the city by participating in all kind of cultural tours. And if you are more adventurous you can also live an unforgettable experience flying in air  balloon over the mountains of Catalonia or dive in the Mediterranean Sea and discover its breath-taking seabed with Barcelona Zero Limits.

Follow on Twitter: @bcnzerolimits

Tourism in Italy for people with disabilities

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Guest blog by Cristiana Campanella of Rome and Italy Tourist Services, an incoming tour operator specialized in tours and services dedicated to people with disability.

Rome and Italy Tourism Service showing wheelcahir tourists

The idea to create a tourist service dedicated to people in wheelchair who wish to spend a holiday without worries, was born in 2007 thanks to the friendship that Stefano Sghinolfi (the owner of Rome and Italy) has with Carlo Rossetti, who is the president of Aisa (Italian Association for Ataxic Syndromes) who is disabled.   Stefano, before starting the business with Rome and Italy, was a tour leader who for many years went around Italy with groups of tourists.  One of the main problem during the tour, when travelling with people in wheelchairs, was that the wheelchair users often had to wait outside the major archaeological sites, or visit only a small part of them because of lack of access.  Unfortunately, in some of these sites, municipalities have built routes that are accessible to wheelchairs but that allowed a person to see only a quarter of the archaeological site. That is why he decided to make “accessible” the inaccessible sites. The only way to do that was to make an investment in the purchase of “special equipment”.

Rome is known as the largest open museum in the world, one of the most visited cities and one of the must-see wonders. But it isn’t what one would consider accessible to wheelchairs, at least not all of it. In Rome, a must is undoubtedly to visit the Roman Forum, which is full of cobblestones, steps and arduous paths; the same is true for the excavations of Pompeii,  Ostia Antica, and many more such. Thanks to collaboration with Ferriol Matrat, which is a French company  who produce the “Joelette”, a special one-wheel chair carried by 2 assistants, (originally used for the disabled while trekking), Rome and Italy has e made it possible to see these sites.

In regards to accommodation, nowadays in Italy, despite the existence of laws by which hotels are obliged to have rooms equipped for people in wheelchair, unfortunately often the rest of the buildings it is not.  This is in spite of the fact that hotels must be fully accessible not just in the room but from the entrance, with access to the breakfast room, with a large elevator, public accessible toilets, and rooms with bathroom equipped with grab bars, roll in shower etc.   That is why Rome and Italy  studied and then create a section on our web site dedicated to the disabled tourists where they can easily find accessible hotels in several Italian cities. We have visited and tested personally all the hotels shown on our website, documenting with picture and information the accessibility. All this information is now available on our website where the disabled can check, according to their needs, which accommodation would be the most suitable.

Rome and Italy also have wheelchair accessible vehicles, and can hire every type of equipment needed by wheelchair travellers.  Follow on Twitter: @RomeandItaly @joelette_sport http://www.romeanditaly.com/wheelytrekky-la-sedia-speciale/

New “Accessible Japan” website for visitors

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Guest blog: When not slaving away in a Japanese office, Josh Grisdale is out seeing the sights and wants to share his adopted home – from a wheelchair user’s point of view.   In this blog, he describes why he started Accessible Japan.

maiko

I first visited Japan 15 years ago in 2000.  It was unforgettable.  Not just the exciting culture and exotic landscape, but because of adventures brought about by my disability: being carried down 5 flights of stairs in an electric wheelchair by six subway employees is not something easily forgotten!  There were also many stares – not in a mean-spirited way, but innocently inquisitive.  I realized then… “hey, where are all the disabled people?!”  Few people with disabilities were out and about.

Fast forward to today, and I am just one of many people with a disability living life in Tokyo. Japan has changed an incredible amount and I would say that it is even more accessible than my native Canada!  The rail system is very easy to use, there are many clean accessible toilets around, and most tourist sites are modified.

One reason for starting Accessible Japan  was the frequent divide between what a disabled person sees as accessible and what an able-bodied person thinks is accessible.  I think everyone knows what I’m talking about.  I find there are two extremes: being told a place is accessible and being devastated upon arrival to find it isn’t, and being shied away from a great place because a worried owner thinks a 2cm step cannot be maneuverer by a wheelchair.  While I cannot speak for every person with a disability and don’t want to say what can or cannot be done, what I can do is provide as much information as possible so the readers can decide for themselves.   This is what Accessible Japan aims to do.

The major reason for starting the website, though, is the language barrier.  A surprising number of hotels in Japan actually have rooms which are wheelchair accessible (called “barrier free” in Japan).  However, I don’t think that the people making the hotel websites imagine that a person with a disability would come from abroad.  As such, when looking at a hotel’s English-language website,  you might reject it because it doesn’t mention an accessible room.  However, when looking at the Japanese-language website, you find one – even listing amenities and showing pictures!  Since most people just visiting Japan cannot read the language, they don’t get any further.  My goal is to wade through the piles of Japanese information and list it in English.  Additionally, I want to introduce some major tourist sites and aspects of everyday life through the blog.

I just started a month or two ago, so we still have a ways to go, but I would enjoy having people come along for the trip!  My goal is to have a searchable database on the site in the near future – like hotels.com, but with disabled users in mind.  Most information will come from translating the Japanese information first, but Accessible Japan intends to make detailed site visits in the future.  I currently have no planned order of doing such visits, so if there are any requests, please ask via email (info@accessible-japan.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AccessibleJapan), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AccessibleJapan), Google+ (https://plus.google.com/108792131332807728580) or Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/accessiblejapan/)!

Right now we are having a contest to help spread the word about Accessible Japan– you could win a free photo book of Japan just by following or tweeting! (www.accessible-japan.com/contest).  The Olympics and Paralympics are coming to Tokyo in 2020 – hope to see you there!

AccessAble Leicester app: 24/7 access guide

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Leicester city centre

DisabledGo, working in partnership with Leicester City Council have launched a brand new app to revolutionise access information.  The AccessAble Leicester App is the world’s first bespoke access app on iOS, delivering user friendly accessibility guides, available 24/7.  It is powered by DisabledGo. This free mobile application enables disabled people and their friends and families to find detailed access information from a pan disability perspective for over 1000 venues across the city of Leicester, including car parks, toilets, and entrances.  Every venue is visited and assessed in person by a highly trained DisabledGo surveyor.

The AccessAble Leicester App offers the following mobile access features.  They include:

AccessAroundMe – Instant access to detailed access information to places to visit across Leicester at the touch of a button. Each detailed access guide has information about opening times, directions, ramps, lifts, accessible toilets and much more!

Find A Loo – Highlights the closest public accessible toilet to the user’s current location, and gives precise details of the facility.

MyWayToGo – The world’s first integration between mobile access information and maps. Users can now locate and get directions directly to their chosen accessible place to visit.

FindMeNow –  built in emergency locator that sends the GPS location of the user, directly to their selected emergency contact via email or SMS.

AccessMyWay – Enables the user to filter results to match their specific access requirements, such as accessible toilets, car parking, changing places and hearing assistance.

Apple VoiceOver – compatible with Apple’s VoiceOver software, making all the access information accessible.

The app will give spontaneity and choice back to disabled people, breaking down the barriers to enjoying and contributing to their community faced by them.

Cllr Manjula Sood, Assistant Leicester City Mayor for community involvement, partnerships and equalities, said that the council was aware that disabled people want better information about accessible facilities in Leicester, following the many changes to the city centre over the last few years.   “Changes such as improved shop mobility facilities, level street access throughout city centre, and the city’s many major attractions, need to be supported by up to date and reliable information about accessibility”, said Sood.  “With more and more people using smartphones, this new app will make this information easy to find and help ensure equal opportunity and choice for everyone.   We want to ensure that disabled people have comfortable and enjoyable visits to the city centre.”

DisabledGo was founded in 2000 by wheelchair user Gregory Burke and is a not for profit disability organisation.  It provides online access information to towns and cities across the UK and Ireland free of charge at.   It features over 120,000 places including shops, tourist attractions, universities, hotels, health centres, colleges, restaurants, leisure centres and more.   The aim of DisabledGo is to let people with disabilities know what they will find at a particular venue or attraction so they can plan in advance with confidence or find places that suit them while travelling.

To download the app, visit the iTunes Store.   Major source: press release.  Follow on Twitter: @DisabledGo @Leicester_News @LeicesterCncl

Amsterdam: New Accessible Routes city guide

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Amsterdam canal

A new City Guide with 5 accessible routes through Amsterdam has been developed by Accessible Travel Netherlands in close cooperation with the Dutch design company Field Factors. The 5 short accessible routes travel past barrier free restaurants, museums and sights of interest. All venues along the route are accessible for people with limited mobility. Additionally, the city guides provides accessibility information about public transport and shopping streets. The goal of developing this guide was to provide routes with no or very limited steps. Bridges will be found along the routes, but the most challenging bridges have been avoided.

The city guide is available as online and printed versions in English and Dutch. People that have booked their trip to Amsterdam with Accessible Travel Netherlands will receive the online city guide. Other visitors to Amsterdam can pick up a printed version from Starbikes Rental in Amsterdam, a bike rental where special bikes and wheelchairs are available for hire. The online version can be downloaded from the website.

Accessible Travel Netherlands is run by Veroniek Maat, a one-time intern at the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at AUT University.  Maat has a Masters in  Leisure, Tourism, and Environment from Wageningen University,  and has written a number of guest articles for Access Tourism NZ in the past, most recently about creating an accessible tourism network in the Netherlands.    The city guide was realized with support from Starbikes Rental, Amsterdam Marketing, Province Noord-Holland and Nationale Vereniging de Zonnebloem.   Follow on Twitter: @AccesstravelNL  @starbikesrental @Stichting_AM @ProvincieNH

New website uses crowd-sourcing and mapping to rate access in the UK

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Rob Trent lives in Hampshire, England. He has worked for Ordnance Survey (Britain’s Mapping Agency) for over 25 years. He has personal experience of living with a disability, overcoming accessibility challenges, and an understanding of the benefits of mapping data.    Rob has previously combined his life experiences with his interest in sport, and has worked with the Football Stadium Design Council and the Football Foundation to help improve facilities for disabled people at football grounds.  In this article, Rob tells us about his reasons for starting AccessAdvisr, a website containing ease-of-access information. 

 

Spaghetti junction of roads

“Yes, it’s accessible, there’s only two steps to navigate”. “We have a ramp allowing access to our building”.

As a wheelchair user I have often come across comments like those above.   However, on many occasions the reality differs greatly from the description. “Ramps” are more like ski slopes, and “access to our building” is usually past the cleaners equipment, through the kitchen and into the service lift. Things are very often not quite what they seem.

Out of that frustration AccessAdvisr was born. I wanted something for users who face the same challenges as me (and that could include parents with prams and cyclists, but primarily people with disabilities).   My career with Ordnance Survey meant that AccessAdvisr combined the idea of crowd-sourcing with a mapping background.   AccessAdvisr was created to provide a customer a real-world view of how easy-to-access different places and transport stops are for disabled people.   The aim is to provide a simple mechanism to allow people with mobility challenges to rate and find first-hand accessibility information. Photographs and videos can be posted on the site.    Information on accessibility can then be used to improve the situation. Heres an example of a typical AccessAdvisr rating: https://accessadvisr.net/place/view/18269/

The real challenge lies in getting people to use the site. Starting any business (and AccessAdvisr is a business) is a long hard slog, and this has been no different.   Clearly we would love to have more people adding information to the site so that AccessAdvisr can be of real benefit to people with accessibility challenges.

AccessAdvisr started because it is an answer to a real problem. With help from all of you out there we can go a long way to sorting the problem.    If you feel you have something to contribute then please check us out. The AccessAdvisr website can be viewed here: https://accessadvisr.net/. In addition to the website AccessAdvisr can be found on Twitter (@accessadvisr) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/AccessAdvisr).

Editors note: AccessAdvisr works with a number of UK local authorities and organisations to develop this website and the Community Pages.  The support of organizations such as Suffolk County Council (Twitter: @suffolkcc), Milton Keynes Council (@mkccouncil), Nottinghamshire County Council (@NottsCC), Nottingham City Council (@MyNottingham), The University of Nottingham (@UniofNottingham), and GeoVation (@GeoVation) is helping to grow AccessAdvisr’s user community and enabling it to develop the software tools.   AccessAdvisr Ltd. is a subsidiary of Integrated Transport Planning Ltd., a UK-based transport research and planning consultancy with offices in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Milton Keynes. 

VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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VisitEngland photo of a wheelie and a pushchair user in a souvenir shop

VisitEngland is that country’s national tourist board. Its role is to grow the value of tourism by working in partnership with the industry to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy for the industry and visitors. The organisation’s work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights.  VisitEngland has for a number of years been at the forefront of developing accessible tourism for people with disabilities and others who need better access to tourism, travel, and hospitality.  It has carried out a number of initiatives in this area (search here), and annually gives an “Access For All” award at its Visit England Awards for Excellence” celebrations.   Recently, VisitEngland received funding from the European Commission to develop accessible tourism, and is currently part way through an “Access for All” project, developing and promoting 7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.

This year – as part of English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March), VisitEngland will be holding a conference on achieving access for all in tourism venues.   Unlocking the Purple Pound will be held in partnership with Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool on Wednesday 18th March.  Sandcastle won the 2013 Gold Award for accessible tourism.   The  free event will help business owners and managers improve their facilities and services for disabled people and those with other accessibility needs – a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry.

With more than 1 in 6  visitors to England likely to have an impairment and a massive 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55+ age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling.

Sponsored by Aveso, the programme is packed full of practical tips and expert insights, including an Access Statement workshop, top tips for accessible marketing and tailored sessions for attraction and accommodation businesses.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

Visiting Barcelona with a disability

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

Barcelona Enabled tour group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basque developing accessible tourism for all

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Flag of the Basque Country

The  Basque Country is a region at the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.  It is currently working to create “Tourism for All in Basque Country“.  This is one of a number of accessible tourism projects funded by the European Commission.  The project involves developing further an already existing accessibility model to include standards for new services and packages in six itineraries in the country.  The undertaking includes consideration of the whole tourism value chain and involves access assessment of each tourism facility, improvement of the skills of tourism providers to cater for people with access needs, creating tourism packages for people with different access needs, and commercialization and promotion of the access offer through standard and also specific channels.

The lead coordinator of the project is the Fundacion Instituto Gerontologico Matia-Ingema, and partners include various tourism bodies within Spain.  Source: European Commission.    Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth @MatiaFundazioa

Boomers “agents of change” in tourism: SMG Consulting

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Boomers and seniors at the Tower of London

SMG Consulting is a Californian company which carries out research and develops strategic plans and tourism marketing programs in tourism, recreation, and hospitality.  They have just released their eight annual SMG Tourism Outlook for 2015.  In it, they describe several agents of change in the industry, including demographics and consumer behaviour (the others are climate, and tourism funding).

The report points out that by 2029, more than 20% of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Although the number of Baby Boomers will decline through mortality, this shift toward an increasingly older population is expected to endure. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years. While Boomers are getting older, they still represent 25% of the U.S. population with the highest disposable income, a significant share of the tourism industry bottom line.The report goes on to say that today’s Baby Boomer is quite different, however, than a decade ago, even a year ago. Following the free spirited lead of their Millennial kids and Gen Xer co-workers, Baby Boomers are mimicking their leisure patterns and pursuit of fun in their older years. The report calls this “Aging Younger”.

Because of this, some traditional pursuits of older generations are in decline.  For example, the report points out that in the USA, golf is on the downswing.   As Baby Boomers age and move on to other passions, Gen Xers and Millennials are not replacing the void. Following suit, Baby Boomers are also spending more of their precious time in a variety of activities such as food pairings and motorcycle touring making them less inclined to play the traditional 18 rounds. A similar situation exists in skiing, that is, as Baby Boomers age and turn to other passions, Generation Xers and Millennials are not replacing the volume or frequency.

Boomers are healthier and wealthier than ever, and more willing to engage in numerous activities. For example, WanderLust, a yoga music foodie festival, and the SnowGlobe music festival, attract both a younger and older audience. Priorities with health, community and ecology, Wanderlust festivals are popping up all over, extending the life of tired destinations and many of their traditional Baby Boomer visitor segments. Remember, Baby Boomers were raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll and self-expression. Baby Boomers who are the parents of Millennials want new experiences too. They like music festivals and yoga, which keep them young, and the destination even younger. Chasing youth is a great revenue generator, especially for mature destinations that desperately need repositioning.

Source: SMG Consulting (http://smgonline.net/).  Follow on Twitter: @SMGtahoe

Lonely Planet: New Accessible Melbourne ebook

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Lonely Planets Accessible Melbourne front cover street scene

Lonely Planet’s new Accessible Melbourne free guide provides travellers with disabilities relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see in that city.  It covers Melbourne’s best wheelchair-friendly restaurants and shops, accessible sports, and scenery, food and wine along the Great Ocean Road. As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience. However, for this pilot project, LP augmented their authors reviews with feedback from users who are people with disabilities, and insider tips from a wide range of travellers to ensure those with mobility, hearing or vision impairment get the most out of a Melbourne holiday.   This is Lonely Planet’s first ebook on accessible travel, and it acknowledges that what is accessible to one may be difficult for another.  The Guide suggests users use the information as a starting point to make their own enquiries for their particular situation.  As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience.

Lonely Planet welcomes feedback on this project.  Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng

VisitWales, Welsh tourism embrace Disabled Access Day

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Welsh flag

Visit Wales was one of many tourism organizations around Wales to take part in international Disabled Access Day, a day set aside in January when people with disabilities are encouraged to visit places they have never been before. Disabled Access Day is an international and national campaign to highlight the accessible venues that provide for individuals with any form of disability.   VisitWales said that tourism is an industry that attracts and looks after the needs of all tourists. “ Our objective for the day, with the co-operation of our industry colleagues is to raise awareness of the wide variety of accessible attractions, activities and accommodation establishments that Wales has to offer”, said a VisitWales spokesperson.

In Carmarthenshire, The National Botanical Garden of Wales offered free entry and tours to people with disabilities.  In Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, the Arts Centre also offered free entry, a BSL interpreter, and film screenings.   The Denbighshire County Council offered an obstacle free walk at Loggerheads Country Park and a chidren’s Treasure Hunt.

Tourism operators from across Pembrokeshire County  gathered at Clynfyw Care Farm in Abercych to celebrate ‘Inclusive West Wales’.     It was supported by a number of tourism operators and organisations who carry an accessible ethos, including the National Trust  Stackpole Mencap Gardens, The Harriet Davis Trust, Pembrokeshire People First, Celtic Quest Coasteering and Pembrokeshire Tourism.   Those who attended found it very beneficial by networking with peers and gaining a wealth of knowledge on what is available to the disabled visitor in Pembrokeshire.   Emily Yates, an accessibility consultant and travel writer who has been employed by the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games also attended the event.   She was overwhelmed with the facilities available at Clynfyw Care Farm.   She said: “The thing that really impresses me about Clynfyw is that physical accessibility and community inclusion go hand-in-hand. Not only can visitors stay in a gorgeous cottage to suit all their needs they can also take part in arts and crafts and wheelchair yoga. This inclusion” she added, “is what really creates understanding and brings people together. We need more of it” she said.

Clynyfw has been providing accessible holidays to visitors for more than 30 years and has been recognised for its good practice by winning the Pembrokeshire Tourism Gold Award for Best Access for the Disabled Visitor in 2013.  The manager Jim Bowen said the event was a great success, and that it was a pleasure to see the development of collaborative working amongst some of the leading accessible business in Pembrokeshire.   “It’s hopefully the start of something big for accessible tourism in Pembrokeshire”, said Bowen.

Follow on Twitter: @Access_Day @VisitWalesBiz @EmilyRYates @ClynfywCIC  @nationaltrust @HDavisTrust @pemspeople1st @CQCoasteering @visitpembs  Main source: Disabled Access Day

UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices

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Sams Tower 156

The Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices (in Spanish), is UNWTO’s second publication on universal accessibility and has been co-produced with the Spanish ONCE Foundation for social inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Network for Accessible Tourism – ENAT.  The manual will be key to the international community in understanding the chain of accessibility in tourism, the economic impact of Accessible Tourism, and steps that can be taken to create accessible destinations according to the principles of Design for All.    The manual provides a framework of interventions, tools and resources in service delivery and management of Accessible Tourism. Through these instruments, UNWTO aims to encourage stakeholders in the sector to implement measures to increase greater participation of different population groups in tourism, including people with disabilities and others.

The publication is divided into five distinct modules that respond to major accessibility issues in tourism: general context, recommendations main intervention areas, indicators for national tourism administrations and good international practices.  It is Module I – the first part of the Manual to be published – and will be followed by 4 remaining technical modules targeting various tourism stakeholders.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE