A series of 4: Accessibility is a bare necessity. Part 3: TECHNICAL – OUT OF ORDER
Accessibility is a bare necessity – a series in ‘Awareness First’
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In a series of 4, we will share some tips and insights. How easy it can be to implement accessibility in all its variety of do’s and don’ts in your business, and how to make a start.
Ramp it up
The most known, and perhaps obvious accessibility is in fact, access or entrance.
If you give it a thought, avoiding to be a little sarcastic, it is not too hard to understand that a person in a wheelchair simply cannot take the stairs.
Even more so, a level difference of 2 cm or 1 inch is something you would probably not even notice, unless you have a stroller to lift up, to use the entrance.
Inside a mall, hotel, theater, cinema, restaurant, airport and other public venues you have stairs, different floors, toilets, emergency exits and staff to help you. Nothing to worry about, right?
In 2021, a reality check means, if management never considered to make his business or venue accessible, it probably is not, like, at all.
To make that change, that much needed SWITCH in thinking is not all too difficult as it might seem. Online you find tons of information. Every city or region has a council or foundation working on disability rights that can help you to make a good start.
Call the expert
Accessibility consultants are your best friends, as they know all the details. Accessibility – physical, architectural – is not about just wheelchair access, it is also about facilities for people with no or lower vision and hearing impairment.
The great thing of investments in improving accessibility is that they have to be made only once, for many, many future customers AND their friends and family to come visit.
Do it right
It is important to prepare and give the location the right amount of thought. There are construction companies or contractors specializing in accessible design (ramps, sanitary units, signage), just make sure they truly are the expert.
Very often you find ‘accessible toilets’ that clearly have not been build according to ADA compliance regulations (United States) or national accessibility guidelines. And sadly, they most likely will not be rebuilt soon.
Temporary access is absolutely something to consider too. Access Trax (foldable pathways for any uneven terrain like a beach or a festival location) or ADAPTS, a portable transfer sling to evacuate customers safely from an airplane, hotel, mall and other higher buildings, are a few examples.
In accessible tourism it is the most important thing, to be able to offer a truly accessible experience. This means a lot of preparation work to make sure all of that.
- Thorough property checks in hotels, restaurants, museums, attractions and theaters
- visiting and checking rental services,
- Check ahead on day tours (boats, trams or other rides)
- And sometimes public transport as well.
In the future, we would like to see that the other way around. Touristic places to visit will inform the specializing accessible travel agents, instead of them going out to check every single place of interest.
The number of travelers with a disability is growing very rapidly, so this moment will be there rather sooner than later.
Traveling in a group is very popular. All of the group members in a wheelchair? That is most likely more difficult than exploring Mars!
You cannot improve or implement accessibility thinking this or that might work, maybe. You need to ask those who need it!
Hit the waves!
The enormous waves of accessible travel blogs and social media influencers that have made themselves heard in the last 5 years showing photos and videos of their travels, and telling their stories, good and bad, paved the way for a much larger wave of Awareness.
Let’s not wait another 25 years
With all this knowledge and experience at hand, it will be much easier to implement and improve accessibility. For the 20% of the people needing it, plus their other half in family and friends, the world will be more accessible soon.
There is no way around it!
Publication date 17 January 2020
These 4 articles in the series Awareness First are free to share using the following credits: written by Marlies van Sint Annaland, Founder Accessible Travel Online.