2005 Conference on Accessible Travel: Discussion Groups


Join the Discussion Sessions for the 2005 Conference on Accessible Travel .

Respond to the conference questions below and I will see to it that your ideas get a hearing as the Asia Pacific Accessible Travel League is launched at the Taipei Conference.

Before major international events such as the Taipei conference, postings at the Rolling Rains Report transition from news to travelogue to give you an insider's view of developments in the world of inclusive travel worldwide. It can be hard to regularly publish while I'm on the road but the blog provides a chance for you to participate without attending. Add your thoughts to the discussion below.

Discussion Topics

1. Accessibility and Transportation

(1) How tourism can bring about greater accessibility of buildings, places of interest and transportation: What models or case studies are available that illustrate a successful harnessing of tourism revenue toward local infrastructure development other than the Perth, Australia Convention Bureau's project, "Beyond Compliance?"

(2) Is there need for accessible tour buses and coaches to encourage families and friends to travel together? What are typical, or minimal, design criteria that could be circulated as guidelines?

2. Reform, Reconstruct and Build the Accessible Tourist Sites

(1) Inclusive Destination development is the systematic application of Universal Design in the planning and development of tourism sites in order to make them destinations of choice for the tourists o the broadest range of abilities. What exemplary destinations or projects are you currently aware of? What might a checklist of essential items to include in such a project look like?

(2) What new solutions have been developed recently to deal with difficult destinations such as steep/uneven terrain? Historical sites? Low-light or noisy environments?

3. Accessible Information

(1) Availability of accessible information in major tourism web sites, both governmental and private: What are the criteria for defining accessibility? What is the procedure for holding each site accoiuntable for accessibility? Who is the accountability contact for each site?

(2)Monitoring of accessible information in major tourism web sites Is this already being done? What agency would be appropriate to take responsibility for this task? What conditions are necessary to make this service economically sustainable?

(3) Networking of disability based accessible tourism information web sites: Which sites? How to organize the network?

4. Human Resources in Accessible Tourism

(1)Influencing Employers to hire People with Disabilities: Good straegies? Case studies?

(2)Lobbying designers, engineers, builders and policy makers to include People with Disability in Tourism Plans

(3)How to create seamlessly accessible environments for both employee and tourist?

5. Social Enterprises in Accessible Tourism

(1) What are the good practices of social enterprises in accessible tourism in participating countries/regions and the lessons learnt from their experiences.

(2) How to make social enterprises in accessible tourism economically viable business as well as to provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in cooperation with government sector and business sector in the tourism industry.


Here are some thoughts:

How does the movement for routine basic access in all new private homes relate to tourism?

1) Most bed and breakfast inns were first private homes.

2) Home exchanges -- (where people who don't know each other make arrangements to exchange homes during vacations)

3) Above all -- visiting friends and relatives. If Joe cannot visit his sister in California because her house lacks access,
certain tourism spots lose business because he did not make the trip. The museum, the vineyard, the restaurants, the art gallery she would have taken him to.

Dear Scott,

My busy schedule doesn't allow me to answer your questions in detail in such a short time. Furthermore, I am no expert when it comes to this topic.

However, I can briefly give you Malaysian examples and say that there is hardly any public transportation for disabled Malaysians.

About four or five years ago, one of the Light Rail Transit was made accessible to physically disabled Malaysians. This was the first time that any such thing happened with wheelchair lifts and access into the cars. It came about after a first LRT service claimed it was too dangerous for disabled people in wheelchairs to travel in their servce hence they left their needs out.

When disabled Malaysians heard this, they came out to protest in a big way that resulted in the government hearing them and the second LRT being accessible. However, there has been not much improvement from then on.

The problem with our country and very much in many Asian countreis is that the disabled are still looked upon as objects of charity rather than full citizens of the country with equal rights as the able-bodied. There is also tremendous stigmatisation of disabilities where many disabled people and their families do not go out in public.

That is, however, changing but very, very slowly.


Anthony Thanasayan

Hi Scott,

Sorry I don't have time for an exhaustive response but here are some first impressions:

In looking for good examples for all of your questions, one organization comes to mind - the National Park Service - they have made extensive efforts and have good award winning examples of solutions to difficult grade problems and a myriad of accessibility issues.

This represents a very positive culture for tourists and employees. Check out http://www.nps.gov/access/ . They have a good "web authoring" program and some key online resources.

Best wishes at the conference!

Terry Welker AIA


Since I have been out of the loop for quite a while, I do not have specific, compelling financial arguments to support the argument for accessibility via inclusive-destination tourism. My thoughts below are based on past experience.

The biggest drive in my mind for all accessibility changes is the aging Boomer population and their pocketbooks in close working relationship with the disabled community.

When the accessibility community adds its dollars to those of Boomers, the argument for change becomes far less resistible. After all, Boomers have another 20 years of travel potential dependent on health primarily and finances secondarily. Boomers rule.

Hal Norvelle

Dear Scott,

I would be interested in getting involved in discussions, and the New Forum.

While the 2004 Rio Declaration was an important step forward for our work ...


We enjoy being directly involved in the detail of practical implementation.

So to begin ... attached here, please find the following :

SDI's Accessibility Matrix ;

SIS's e-Accessibility Matrix.

Both should be adapted to suit the local situation, and should also be implemented in the context of the 2004 Rio Declaration, e.g. see Principle 9.

Two Pages, in particular, should be examined on our WebSite ...
http://www.sustainable-design.ie/arch/adapthouse.htm .

One other Page, concerning fire safety issues, should be noted as important ...
a href="http://www.sustainable-design.ie/fire/appendixd.htm">http://www.sustainable-design.ie/fire/appendixd.htm.

Best wishes.

C. J. Walsh.
Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller

Member, EU 2004 Working Group on Urban Environment Research.
Member, CIB Working Commission 14 : Fire.
Member, EU 2003 (EYPD) Expert Group on Accessibility.

Chief Technical Consultant,
Sustainable Design International Ltd.

... for 'reliability-based' & 'person-centred' design solutions !

Internet: www.sustainable-design.ie

Amigo Scott,

Com certeza teria como contribuir, mas vc nao imagina a quantidade de coisas que estou viabilizando para começar o projeto.

Acredito que em 15 dias as coisas estejam mais tranquilantes para que eu possa participar mais efetivamente.

Forte abraço,



Below are my answers referenced by question number.

Richard Thompson, Good Access Guide

1.2 Accessible tour buses and coaches

Most definitely. From a European perspective, this is probably the most significant barrier to inclusive tourism in our cities and Mediterranean package tour destinations.

Online Resources:




2.1 Exemplary destinations

The iconic London Eye is a good example of inclusive design in an innovative tourism attraction:

2.2 Historical sites

The National Trust here in the UK are doing much to make our heritage sites an inclusive experience. Visit their website to find out more: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/placestovisit/disability_information.html

3.1 Accessible Information

Here in the UK the Disability Rights Commission has raised the issue of accessibility on websites with it’s own survey. There is however no ‘body’ which can take issue with a web site operator. Rather the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) empowers individuals (who are defined as ‘disabled’ by criteria laid down in the Act) to take issue with the website operator through the civil courts. To date there is no case law relating to web access and the DDA in the UK, but should change as disabled people become aware of their rights.


3.2 Economically Sustainable Service

Not sustainable. Nothing will bring about improved web access like case law and evidence of compensation being paid to individuals.

3.3 Tourism Information Web Sites

Are you aware of OSSATE?

5.0 Social Enterprise

I’m not hot on the Social Enterprise bit. Nothing will bring about change like the prospect of profit. We must first create an appetite for inclusive tourism in the hard nosed commercial sector and everything else will follow.

An information service on "Accessible Tourism" in Europe is being developed in 2005 - 2006 by an international consortium of public tourism bodies, disability and accessibility organisations and technology providers. We call this initiative "OSSATE" or "One-Stop-Shop for Accessible Tourism in Europe". The initiative is supported by the European Commission.
Get more information - and contact OSSATE at www.ossate.org

1st International OSSATE Workshop, London 12-13 May 2005.
- Read more and register for this event, where experts from Europe and beyond will share experiences and discuss the requirements for Accessible Tourism Information Systems.
Go to:

- regards, Ivor Ambrose, OSSATE Coordinator.

Invitation to European Conference

„Culture for All“ – EIDD Annual Conference 2005
12-13 May, Berlin

On May 12-13 2005 the Europe-wide EIDD Conference „Culture for All“ will take place at the Press-and Visitor’s Centre of the Federal Government in Berlin .

This Europe-wide congress is organised by the European Institute for Design and Disability (EIDD) and its national member organisations, the “Europäisches Institut Design für Alle in Deutschland (EDAD)”.

In order to start taking steps towards achieving some of the aims expressed in the EIDD Stockholm Declaration© and to demonstrate the wide, horizontal relevance of Design for All to all interested communities, the EIDD has decided to focus its 2005 Annual Conference on the topic of Culture for All. The topic of culture has an enormous range of ramifications, all of which stand to profit extensively from the coherent application of the theory and practice of Design for All.

The main headings on which this Conference will concentrate are:

1) Cultural Heritage – Access to Buildings, Nature Reserves and Artefacts

2) Urban Environments and Public Transport in a Cultural Context

3) Cultural Tourism and Marketing.

Representatives of this field introduce strategies and good examples from throughout Europe .

EIDD and EDAD warmly invite you to participate in the EIDD Annual Conference 2005 „Culture for All“, where you will join delegates from European municipalities and regions, National and Regional Tourist Boards, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), politicians, accessibility agencies, tourism and transport companies, and delegates responsible for cultural heritage and activities. This event will be a meeting point for learning and sharing knowledge, opening up new opportunities for Europe-wide co-operation on providing information about accessible Culture for All.

The program and all important information is attached. Please visit also our Website, there you can download the programme, registration form and additional information about the workshop, accommodation and methods of payment: www.design-for-all.org or www.design-fuer-alle.de

The closing date for registering is Monday 2nd May. I look forward to hearing from you and I do hope that you will be able to join us on 12th and 13th May.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Neumann
President EDAD


Dr. Peter Neumann


Europäisches Institut Design für Alle in Deutschland e.V. (EDAD)

Bahnhofstr. 1-5

48143 Münster


Tel: +49 251/16254-31

Fax: +49 251/16254-34



Have you ever considered accessible ski vacations? I work for the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah and we do just that.

Although I am not a American with a disability but a German with a disability the ADA had an impact on my life. The United States of America is one of my favorite countrys for travelling.


I am a wheelchair user and I enjoy having no problems to find an accessible hotel, I don't have any trouble to find accessible restrooms and I never had any problems visiting museums, parks, attractions and public buildings. There are much more parking lots for disabled than in Europe.

And if I book my flight at an American airline there will be no stupid questions - I am just a passenger who uses a wheelchair. No big deal!

In Germany we have a big discussion at the moment about a German non-discriminiation act.

Some people say it is not good for our economy if we had this act. I try to travel to US a minimum of once a year, spending money in your country.

One reason is the ADA. It means seamless travel to me.

Greetings from Germany,
Christiane Link


Is there a difference between touring busses and coaches and others? In that respect I believe that the need for accessibility does not differ for authentic inhabitants or tourists.


Thinking about it: tourist sites are also living sites - in that respect the need for accessibility might not be different for authentic inhabitants or tourists.

The Dutch Home Office has given guidelines for accessibility for governmental sites (www.webrichtlijnen.overheid.nl); The aim is to achieve accessibility on at least 50% of all NL-sites in 2007 - should be covered by a code.
Accessibility is tested also by the "barrier free" mark (www.lbt.nl) and an accessibility mark.
The Dutch accessibility-desk ( www.lbt.nl) checks accessibility on demand for which people do pay.
This question was not quite clear - but reading it as: “the need for an information database or something, where people easily can check for themselves whether or not the place they want to visit (a hotel, beach, theatre or whatever) is accessible and to which standard.”
Again, this is not only valuable for tourists - also native inhabitants will benefit from such an initiative. In Holland people are trying to set up a database like this - financing is still a problem. Working in principal with local disabled people there still is the need for extra funds which the government does not provide. Next step people take is ask companies who benefit from greater accessibility greater turnover + might help, not yet visible.

Good idea - you might contact the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre in London - they work with "Inclusive Design", mostly by encouraging designers, engineers and builders to achieve better results in making their products accessible and usable by the widest possible audience (website: http://www.hhrc.rca.ac.uk/) The Dutch Technical University at Delft has a program for student designers on design for all.
I do not think that there is a difference between the need for accessibility by employee and tourist. In principal they need the same thing - except maybe when travelling with disabled people only. But then you'll have to arrange for several adaptations on the spot and for that moment and for that persons only.
In principle, social enterprises should be economically valuable businesses, providing employment opportunities as other businesses do - for both disabled and not disabled people. So far it should not make a difference. Nevertheless I can imagine that in the tourist industry more "healthy and strong" people are needed. As long as environments are not adapted and made designed for all, people will need help: to get in/of the bus, to wheel their wheelchair on/of the slopes, and so on.

This shows at the same time that Design for All is an instrument to maintain people’s autonomy and self-sustainability as long as possible and this pays off, for everyone and the most for the individual.

On the other hand, companies should realize that the travelling disabled people also are a part of their business and their numbers will grow in the near future (combining demographic knowledge on coming "Grey Wave" and better health systems will increase the number of people with a chronic illness and/or handicap and with legislation on equal treatment).

You might like the link below, giving a good idea of what information in Holland regarding Design4All/Universal design can be obtained.

Henny Overbosh
The Netherlands

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