Brazil FIFA Strategy - 2014


This report overviews plans for a proposed Inclusive  Tourism strategy. It was to be implemented during the FIFA 2014 Brazil World Cup. I developed this plan with four other senior-level experts in the area of tourism and disabilities. Although this plan was not implemented I present and endorse it here as an example of best practices that may be imitated in other countries.

My purpose with this strategy and in this report is to provide a pragmatic example of Inclusive Tourism ( in a historical context with which I am very familiar.

The deliverable in this strategy was to be a free itinerary developed for distribution to the tourism industry of Brazil. This itinerary includes the 12  Host Cities of World Cup 2014 and appropriately-formatted transportation information between them for travelers with four kinds of disabilities. The four kinds of disabilities covered in the strategy are: blindness, deafness, brain and cognitive disabilities and mobility-impairedness.

In order to qualify as inclusive tourism this strategy must use Universal Design. Specifically it must involve Universal Design applied by the tourism industry to its product in every phase including planning marketing and implementation. Described in simple English this means imagining persons with disabilities as consumers from the beginning and integrating them seamlessly throughout the tourism product.


Each state and municipality that hosted the FIFA 2014 Brazil World Cup had official organs designated for arranging and promoting the World Cup. Our team coordinated with each of these organs as well as with unofficial organs created by the disability and travel communities. In so doing we followed Inclusive Tourism's Universal Design protocols.


These categories were described in the broadest way possible in order to yield the most pragmatic results in both languages. The product to be delivered to the tourism industry would have documented the actual conditions for inclusive travel available to visitors with disabilities at the time the report was made. The following four categories are descriptions of the disability not of the completeness of the deliverables that we proposed to produce.


 Complete or partial visual impairment.


Complete or partial hearing impairment.


Complete or partial impairment of any usually occurring cognitive ability.


Complete or partial impairment of any usually occurring mobility function.


Providing mere accessibility to a traveler with a disability is insulting. ( It is also not possible to sell such a product to a consumer with a disability. The core of our World Cup 2014 product was subsidized which positioned the Brazilian tourism industry to "sell" it back to us as consumers with no time or monetary investment on their part.

Inclusion points in both directions. At times we are the guest invited to travel with non-disabled friends. At times we are the host fully paying for others to accompany us. As promoters of Inclusive Tourism we have no interest in travel information that does not embed us at every stage with those we choose to be traveling with. 

Having explained that the goal of our product I will leave technical details for my colleagues to explain.

Italy: A Manifesto on Tourism for All


Manifesto for the Promotion of Accessible Tourism
Putting into effect art. 30 of UN Convention concerning disabled people
rights ratified by Law n.18 of 24/2/09

1. People in the most complete meaning of the term, with their specific needs resulting from personal and health conditions (for example: motor, sensory, intellectual disabilities, food intolerances, etc.), are citizens and customers who have the right to autonomously make good use of all the tourist services on offer, being supplied with suitable services with a just quality/price ratio.

2. Accessibility involves the whole tourist service chain, both at national and local level, starting with:
   a. Transport network;
   b. Accommodation capacity;
   c. Restaurants and cafés;
   d. Culture, leisure and sports.

3. Location accessibility shall not be the decisive factor when planning holidays: it should be possible to choose a destination or a tourist facility because it is where we want to go and not because it is the only accessible one.

4. It is necessary to think of accessibility as access to life experiences, that is overcoming the concept of "standard", enhancing the value of the person/customer, who has specific needs.

5. Information about accessibility cannot be reduced to a mere symbol, but has to be objective, detailed and guaranteed, to allow each person to certainly evaluate by himself which tourist facilities and services are able to meet his specific needs.

6. It is necessary to promote positive communication, avoiding the use of discriminating words. It has to be distributed in formats that everybody can use, and through all tourist information and promotion channels.

7. As accessibility does not concern only structural and infrastructural aspects, but also the services offered to tourists, it is necessary to promote quality reception for everybody, that is to encourage a cultural change, that can result in changes in organization and management models, even before structural ones.

8. It is necessary to encourage skill and professional training, based on Universal Design principles and involving the whole tourist and technical professional profile chain: managers, employees, companies, public and private enterprises. It is also necessary to update curricula in all Schools for Tourism, Technical Schools, Universities, Masters and Academic Centres of all grades.

9. Local Authorities, according to their competences and functions, shall implement the accessibility of towns, public buildings and local transports, and shall also plan periodical control and promotion operations for tourist offers for everyone.

10. In order to implement and promote accessible tourism in a system logic, proactive collaboration among tourist Operators, Local Authorities, Public Bodies, disabled people Associations and social tourism Organizations is encouraged.


1. Destinations for All

Accessible Destinations - how they are organised, developed, managed and marketed - are at the heart of this World Summit. We look forward to presentations that explain the processes which have led to successful accessible destinations where businesses have opened up to the diversity of travellers and have built a reputation for consistent, high quality services for all their guests. Under this theme, participants are encouraged to consider the dynamics between different actors and stakeholders which lead to positive outcomes for the community and its visitors. Contributions from the public, private and NGO sectors will demonstrate how destinations build expertise and know-how, enabling them to attract and cater for new customers in a growing but also discerning market.

1.1 Managing Accessible Destinations

Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) play a key role in coordinating and laying the foundations for local, regional and national tourism offers. The large majority receive public funding and are seen as prime movers in the implementation of tourism policies. The need for managers to show a high return on investment (ROI) can be just as high here as in the private sector.

This theme will:

  • Showcase and discuss world-class examples of successful strategies for accessible destinations and their planning approaches.
  • Identify the tools and methods used by DMOs for taking the lead on accessibility - how to engage local businesses and the wider community to change the mindset, create and deliver new products to the accessible tourism market.
  • Present and discuss indicators and methods for assessing the 'accessible welcome' shown by destinations, measured across the value chain.
  • Discuss how social media and new forms of advertising and promotions can help build the reputation and success of destinations and enterprises that make their offers accessible for all.
  • Examine the planning trajectories of destinations which organise major world sporting events and the "legacies" they leave in terms of accessibility.

1.2 Understanding and Developing Inclusive Tourism Products

Travellers vary enormously in their physical capabilities and their holiday patterns reflect that diversity. Whether that holiday is climbing a Himalayan peak, walking New Zealand's Milford Track, visiting the wine region of the Napa Valley or relaxing on a Caribbean island: that is a personal choice. The tourism industry is adept at discerning and catering to those wide ranges of choices, however, we have categorized a disability, through medical and now social models, as something different, and around that have built a set of preconceptions that shields it from a market view.

This theme will focus on:

  • Understanding the great diversity in the capabilities of travellers with a disability.
  • Understanding the aspirations of travellers with a disability.
  • Developing a knowledge of technological and equipment solutions that are available for rooms, sport, leisure, dining and entertainment.
  • Looking at facilities and paths of access from a customer point of view (which may be different from compliance with legal requirements).
  • Looking at procedures for check-in, luggage handling, check-out and resort booking.
  • Developing an understanding that the traveller with a disability is often the group or family leader, not a passive observer.
  • Understanding that the total group is the unit that needs to be catered to as a "shared" experience, and not just creating a "special" experience for the individual with a disability.
  • The growing trend of diversity in employment and the implications for the global Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events market (MICE), including the implications for accommodation, presentation and breakout rooms, social activities, field trips/familiarisation tours and conference extensions.

1.3 Information and Marketing

Before undertaking travel outside of their region of residence, people with disabilities will want to ensure their ability to get to the destination as well as stay there and dine. Accurate information on a destination is therefore of primary importance to individuals with disabilities, and we thus welcome contributions on the following points:

  • The level to which individuals with disabilities and their family and friends are informed on the services they are being offered.
  • The accuracy of the accessibility information provided, and the means to improve it.
  • Incorporating accessibility information into mainstream information at the destination.
  • The technological tools best suited for distributing information on the accessible services offered to the disabled.
  • Branding, access labelling and marketing of accessible destinations, where trusted, reliable and detailed information are crucial to the visitor's planning decisions.
  • The role of each destination to make available any information on the accessibility of its establishments and services, also in accessible and alternative formats.
  • The role of the media in the distribution of information on a destination's accessibility.
  • The use of imagery and multi-media to change the perceptions of travellers with a disability and to encourage and welcome visitors.

2. Accessibility in the Tourism Value Chain

2.1 Good Practices in Customer Service

Beyond the physical layout of venues and buildings, quality of service is paramount in all aspects of the tourism industry.

This theme will identify and discuss examples, case studies, policies and best practices, including:

  • Training requirements for managers and front-line personnel in terms of welcoming and serving travellers with disabilities.
  • Training requirements for product development managers on the needs and aspirations of travellers with a disability.
  • Examples of disability and access awareness training that have been built into continuing professional development for managers and personnel.
  • Share ways to replace the stigma of "special needs" with the attitude that all clients are unique guests.
  • Evaluate if vocational, collegiate and university programs in the field of tourism adequately prepare professionals to deal with travellers with disabilities.
  • Demonstrate the return on investment from training.
  • Evaluate the possibility of establishing service norms, for example, for restaurants.
  • Share best practices in customer service in tourism, culture and transportation sectors.
  • Identify measures that could facilitate the participation of people with disabilities and others with specific access requirements in tourist and cultural activities.
  • Identify the follow-up measures to complaints.

2.2 Involving Small and Medium-sized Tourism Businesses

The tourism industry is comprised of many small businesses: B&Bs, restaurants, cafés, equipment rental companies, tourist guides, boutiques, attractions, etc. 
These businesses are dynamic, dedicated and at times fragile. They are at the heart of a destination's tourism appeal; they play a key role in welcoming visitors, creating vibrant experiences and lasting memories. Yet for most of them, knowing why and how to make their business accessible and profitable is unexplored territory. 
 In this theme, we wish to address:

  • Ways to involve small and medium-sized businesses in developing a destination's universal accessibility.
  • The best way to communicate with these businesses.
  • The message to compel them to get on board.
  • The incentives that would encourage private businesses to develop their accessibility for people with disabilities.

2.3 Joining up the Supply Chain

Historically, inclusive tourism advocacy and development has been aimed at the infrastructure owners. The anti-discrimination legislation around the world targets the same group. Those infrastructure providers are hotel and resort owners, attractions, coach and bus companies, train operators and airlines.
Unfortunately, travel and tourism is not sold that way and seldom do individual purchasers put their holidays together individually on a piece-by-piece basis. The one exception tends to be the disabled traveller, who is forced to go to the source due to lack of information available through the distribution channels.

  • Developing a regional inclusive tourism value proposition.
  • Defining the role of tourism boards and marketing authorities.
  • Involving tourism wholesalers and consolidators in the packaging of inclusive tourism products.
  • Building inclusive options for regional itineraries and involving tour operators to include those options and schedule inclusive hardware into their planning.
  • Ensuring airlines and airports servicing a region are aware of the importance of inbound inclusive tourism and offer support services and transport links.
  • Working with the major global distribution systems to develop codes to enable booking throughout the travel supply chain.
  • Developing expertise through training and familiarisation programs for the retail travel sector, including the major online and traditional agencies through centres of excellence for inclusive tourism.

3. The Built Environment: Urban Planning, Architecture and Design for All

The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilitiesbinds States to take appropriate measures to:

"a) Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
b) Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities."

Barrier-free access should not be limited to buildings and their exterior layouts, but must be implemented within the whole venue or destination. In order to promote inclusion everywhere, decision makers need to support the practice of Universal Design and the application of accessibility standards. There must be new initiatives and measures to put access firmly in the curricula of design education, legislation, public procurement and conformity assessment.

Presentations are invited on the following sub-themes

3.1 Promoting Access and Inclusion through Legislation and Design Standards

Legislation and standards are seen by some as the definitive answer to achieving accessibility for all. But how are standards defined and to what extent does legislation support the use of standards?
In this theme we will discuss:

  • Policies and legislative initiatives from around the world, requiring accessibility to public buildings and environments, their time-frames and implementation strategies.
  • Experiences of specific measures and/or legislation for incorporating accessibility requirements in public procurement, design, construction and conformity assessment procedures.
  • Experiences of applying accessibility standards for the built environment in different countries and regions of the world.
  • Standardisation as a common language to understand and implement accessibility.

3.2 Applying the Universal Design (UD) Approach

Advances in UD/Design for All: another way of thinking, understanding and designing for human needs. 
In this theme we will:

  • Compare urban planning models that explicitly take UD into account to achieve a barrier-free environment.
  • Present examples of good practice in urban planning, with particular reference to tourist venues and access for visitors.
  • Present and discuss examples of UD in public buildings for common use.
  • Identify examples of UD in specific-use buildings, tourism and leisure facilities.
  • Showcase the UD approach in aeroplane cabins, cruise ships, other passenger vessels, yachts, etc.
  • Examine the current status of education and training programs for architects and urban planners in accessibility-related issues, in different regions and countries.

3.3 Hotels and Other Tourist Accommodation

Because tourist accommodation is fundamental to the tourism chain, providing many crucial functions for the visitor, in this theme we will pay particular attention to hotel design. 
We will:

  • Discuss norms for the percentage or room ratios, layout and features of rooms for people with disabilities (or "adapted rooms") in different countries.
  • Learn about the practices and experience of hotels in terms of number, availability and occupancy rates of rooms designed for people with disabilities or universally designed rooms.
  • Show how UD or Design-for-All affects the layout and installations of guest rooms, bathrooms and other facilities, and discuss possible implications for construction norms and practices.
  • Consider the role of quality and star ratings in making accommodation establishments more accessible.
  • Identify the level of information, services and amenities that should be provided as standard for guests with sensory impairments.
  • Discuss systems and security measures for assisting people with disabilities in case of emergencies and evacuations.

4. Inclusion in Outdoor Environments

Travellers with disabilities are eager to incorporate outdoor activities into their travels, particularly those shared with other groups of tourists. 
This theme will include areas such as destination management, including service provisions, facilities, equipment, adapted activity programs and information, as well as Built Environment and Environmental Design Standards.

  • Share successful initiatives that have been carried out in camping, nature excursions, hiking, beach access, hunting, fishing, etc.
  • Identify the main principles and norms that should be applied to different outdoor activities.
  • Evaluate whether the funding agencies leverage their public fund-raising efforts to promote accessible tourism and leisure.
  • Identify what adapted equipment is necessary for access to outdoor activities. (i.e. adapted all-terrain vehicles, beach wheelchairs, pool lifts, etc.).
  • Public and private parks that have taken several initiatives to support visits that are adapted to the special needs of people with disabilities.
  • Present and analyse the impacts of prevailing standards for disabled-access visits to public parks.
  • Show how visitors can have a richer sensory experience of outdoor environments and venues.
  • Demonstrate the means by which theme parks and leisure parks provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all visitors.
  • Present and discuss standards, guidelines and management tools for outdoor recreation: Buildings, facilities, environments, services and information.  

5. Technology and Tourism

Making a trip can entail a wide range of interconnected journeys and steps, which can be planned entirely either before embarking on the trip or during the trip. All aspects of the visitor journey can be enhanced by incorporating information and communication technologies, thus securing benefits for the services offered, for the general user and, in particular, for users with disabilities.

Visual, audio and tactile information can be used to inform and guide visitors, and to enrich the experience of attractions, performances and events. Smart devices and applications using mobile networks with high speed data connections are opening up a seemingly endless range of possibilities for the traveller.

One of the advantages of having access to information services which are responsive to the traveller during the whole course of the processes involved in the trip is the ability to react in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

In this theme we will discuss:

  • Developments using 'big data' to deliver real-time information in 'smart cities', providing enhanced information, convenience and safety to service providers, local citizens and visitors - and ensuring that these services are accessible for all.
  • How to ensure that Web technologies, content and services are accessible for all users: development strategies, tools and methods.
  • On-board information services, communications and entertainment - in aeroplanes, trains, maritime and urban transport - offering added value, comfort and safety to passengers with reduced mobility, visual or hearing impairments or learning difficulties.
  • Technology support for implementing emergency and evacuation procedures, especially considering the needs of persons with disabilities.
  • Orientation / way-finding systems for pedestrians in environments such as airports and train stations - finding ticket offices, boarding points, routes to follow, passenger information messages, or locating available services.
  • Uses of geo-localisation, automated notification systems and other supports when travelling.
  • Design and placement of accessible self-service terminals including ATMs, check-in machines, internet points, ticketing machines, vending machines, information booths.
  • Advances in smart, accessible technologies in hotels and restaurants.
  • Audio guides and video guides for visitors who are blind or deaf, or with learning difficulties.

6. International Standardization for Accessible Tourism

This theme will examine how international accessibility standards can improve tourism services, products, transport and environments.
We will discuss:

  • How to ensure that travellers with disabilities can determine whether a destination is accessible for their specific needs and that they will be able to participate in activities and visits: to travel, sleep, eat and enjoy the destination, safely and with ease and comfort.
  • International norms for information about accessible tourism requirements and provisions, based on common parameters and how to incorporate these in business practices.
  • Standards for curricula and training in accessibility issues.
  • Conformity assessment schemes and verification procedures that can support international standards for accessible tourism.
  • The methods and requirements which can lead to a universally recognised certification system for accessible destinations.


Tourism, Culture & Transportation : A Common Strategy at the International Level

The Destinations for All World Summit 2014 welcomes practitioners and researchers from around the world to come together to exchange experiences and discuss the vital issues concerning the inclusion of people with disabilities and specific access requirements in tourism and travel.

The aim of the Summit is to review the achievements that have been made in the world's leading accessible destinations, regions and cities, to share and discuss best practices and methods and to chart a course for the development of One World of Inclusive Tourism for Everyone.

  • The Challenge of Accessibility in Global Tourism. There are about one billion people worldwide who have disabilities. Currently, that is about 15% of the total population. This percentage is expected to increase due to the aging population. Because disability increases with age, the large Baby Boomer generation is set to retire over the next 15 to 20 years and surveys show that they intend to travel in their retirement. By 2020, 40% will have some form of disability. Consequently, the tourism industry will be impacted by the current and future number of people with disabilities, and must adapt to this clientele by embracing accessibility in order to remain profitable and sustainable. This market is already too large to ignore, and will become even more so.
  • The Economic Benefits of Inclusive Tourism, Culture, and Transport. The Baby Boomer generation - at least in the West - holds a significant amount of assets, has the most disposable spending power, and will control 50% of total tourism spending by 2020. Like other people, people with disabilities tend to travel with friends and/or family. That means that if a tourism business or service is inaccessible to any person with a disability travelling in a group it may therefore miss out on the potential economic return from the entire group. It is predicted that the accessible tourism market, although under-served, will account for 25% of total tourism spending by 2020. Countries, regions, cities, and enterprises that can fulfil the needs and aspirations of this market will gain competitive advantage over those that don't. In addition, many seniors have the possibility to travel all year round, so the effect of seasonality can be smoothed out by targeting this group.
  • The Global Need for Sustainable Development: There is an increasing interest and investment by international bodies and governments in sustainable development. In order to develop sustainably, any industry must meet human needs while ensuring current and future sustainability of natural systems and environments. The human needs that must be met include the needs of the growing number of people with disabilities. Therefore, the tourism industry cannot become sustainable unless it improves and includes access for everyone in its development. Development that is both sustainable and inclusive is also an investment with many returns at the local, national, and international level. These include social and economic development and investment, employment and, wealth creation, and social sustainability for local communities.
  • The importance and impact of international conventions and national human rights legislation to the development of accessible tourism. The right of people with disability to access tourism is now enshrined in international treaties and increasingly in national legislation. The United NationsConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -, which so far has 158 signatories - clearly lays out that people with disabilities have a right to access the physical environment, transportation, communications, recreation, leisure, tourism, and sporting activities. The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism adopted by the UN World Tourism Organization in 1999 states that tourism activities should (amongst other things) respect the individual rights of ...the elderly, the handicapped, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. Governments have enacted legislation that protects the right to access by people with disabilities that can be applied to tourism products and services. In addition, there is a growing interest in governments and across all industries to be acknowledged for corporate social responsibility. In tourism, accessible tourism provides the perfect tool to show that a company, a destination, or even a state or nation takes responsibility for its impact on social well-being.

At this first World Summit we invite all actors and stakeholders to build, with us, a common framework for action, seeking to ensure that all tourism destinations and providers have the tools and strategies to make their environments, products, services and information accessible and inclusive to all visitors.

It is time for all players in the tourism industry, big and small, to address and embrace this growing market and to cater to those who currently do not travel as much as they would like, have fewer choices when travelling, and whose experience of the world is governed by barriers which we have the ability to remove.

Through examples of best practice cases, hard evidence and inspirational presentations, this Summit will show that Achieving Accessibility is a 'Win-Win-Win' for Destinations, Businesses, and Customers.


A Question of Rights

Today, almost one person in ten in the world is over the age of 60. By 2050 that figure will be one in 5. There is a strong correlation between age and disability. Two thirds of people with disabilities are seniors. The needs of this growing population include physical, sensory and cognitive accessibility to enable them to travel and to participate in tourist sites and activities around the world. Accessible tourism is a fast growing market, but one that is still often ignored or poorly catered to.

The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into effect in 2008, and binds States to take measures to provide people with disabilities with what includes the following:

"...on an equal basis with others, [have access] to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, (...) and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas." (Article 9)


"With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

(e.) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities." (Article 30)1

According to Article 30 of this Convention, States recognize the right of people with disabilities to participate in cultural activities, and will take all measures needed to ensure that everyone has access to cultural products in accessible formats, and to sites featuring cultural activities, including theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries, and tourism services, and, as much as possible, to heritage monuments and sites.

A Question of Ethics

People with disabilities travel like everyone else: for business, for pleasure, to visit family and friends, and to discover other cultures. Tourism may be seen by many as a luxury but increasingly it is regarded as a right. For tourism destinations and operators, catering to these customers is not only a moral obligation but also an economic opportunity.

Tourism is an integration vector, being widely recognised for its inherent potential to engender understanding between peoples of different backgrounds. Assessing a tourist destination's accessibility means verifying the accessibility of its tourist services, hotels and restaurants, transportation, attractions and commerce.

Tourism is also an internationalintegration vector: a tourist destination will want to be recognized according to international criteria; thus including accessibility for people with disabilities.

The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism adopted by the World Tourism Organization in 1999 states:

"Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women; they should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, the handicapped, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples."

The Code covers various areas of application including consumer protection, corporate responsibility, the protection of children and of the most vulnerable segments of the population, cultural and environmental sustainability, dialogue between cultures, as well as its vision of tourism as a factor for development and for the promotion of fundamental human rights, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

In 2011, UNWTO formulated a Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism2, for the signatures of private businesses worldwide. In signing the commitment, companies pledge to uphold, promote and implement the values of responsible and sustainable tourism development championed by the Code. They further undertake to report on their implementation of the Code's principles in their corporate governance to the World Committee on Tourism Ethics. A special focus on social, cultural and economic matters is one of the main objectives of the Commitment, which draws particular attention to issues such as human rights, social inclusion, gender equality, accessibility, and the protection of vulnerable groups and host communities.

As of October 2013, 175 companies and associations from around the world have signed the Private Sector Commitment to the Code of Ethics. These signatories include businesses from ArmeniaBahrain, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, EcuadorFranceGermanyHong Kong (China),Indonesia, Lithuania, MexicoPeople's Republic of China, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, The NetherlandsTunisia, Turkey, Spain,Sweden, and Uruguay as well as two regional associations from Latin America and Europe.

A Question of Sustainable Development

It is a commonly held assumption in Western society that, to ensure long-term sustainability, economic development must embody both the physical environment and society in general. Too often, however, we limit sustainable development to the physical environment at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens.

Development essentially looks to the future. Designing a building or even a destination to be accessible to those with disabilities can be done with little or no "additional" expense if this goal is incorporated at the planning and project specification stage. In this way, access contributes to sustainability by fostering better management of resources, reducing the need for renovations or adaptations to buildings later in their life-span. Moreover, meeting the needs of people with disabilities improves accessibility for everyone.

Sustainable development must be inclusive. Inclusive development means offering all citizens an obstacle-free living environment that contributes to their quality of life, safety and well-being. Sustainable, inclusive environments and management practices are equally good for communities and those who come as visitors.

For numerous international organizations, the objectives to be followed at the international level, beyond the Millennium Goals, must focus on the respect of human rights, both fundamental rights as well as sustainable development principles.

Development that is both sustainable and inclusive is also an investment with many returns at the local, national, and international level. These include social and economic development and investment, employment and wealth creation, and social sustainability for local communities.

An Economic Opportunity

Developing tourism destinations for all is not only a political and social obligation - it is also a major economic opportunity. The ageing demographic is already impacting the demand for accessible holiday experiences and as numbers of older travellers increase globally, businesses must respond to these changes in order to make their offers relevant and attractive to the senior market.

Worldwide, there are over 1 billion people with some form of disability and with friends and family there are over 4 billion or almost a third of world's population directly affected by disability. The tourism industry must rise to the challenge of the changing demographic structure of the market and re-examine its product and service offerings. It is predicted that the accessible tourism market, although under-served, will account for 25% of total tourism spending by 2020. Looking forward just a few years, the proportion of people with disabilities will only continue to rise, given the general ageing of the population. The retiring Baby Boomer generation in western countries, in particular, will have a significant impact on the tourism market: they will control 50% of total tourism spending, 40% of then will have some form of disability, and by 2020, 25% of total worldwide tourism spending will be by travellers with a disability (McKinsey, 2007)3.

For the tourism sector this opens up a wide range of opportunities for creating new products and services more suited to changing market demands. Existing infrastructures and facilities must be improved and new projects in transport, buildings and the built environment should be created through the practice of universal design, ensuring that the tourists of tomorrow will enjoy an inclusive experience having the support, comfort and safety they need, rather than facing new barriers and challenges.

Despite the economic recession, the tourism sector is showing its ability to rebound, producing growth and jobs where other industries are slowing or in decline. Investing in accessibility gives destinations the opportunity of reaching a wider market and brings better prospects for communities - their businesses and citizens - both in economic terms and in a greatly improved quality of life.

The 'new frontier' for tourist destinations and companies lies in creating better services and better value for all customers. In particular, serving the active, older customer provides compelling economic incentives. Countries, regions, cities and enterprises that can fulfill the needs and aspirations of this under-serviced market will gain competitive advantage over those that stick to their old recipes. Contrary to the stereotypes, older and disabled customers have just as wide a range of tastes and interests as any others and all areas of tourism can benefit by improving access. Widening the client base to all those who require good access also has other advantages, such as softening the effect of seasonality, as many of these visitors can travel off-season, not being bound by school or industrial holidays.

At a time when economic stagnation and recession still threatens the global economy, the travel industry is showing some resilience, although positive trends are by no means present in all regions and countries. It is time for all players in the tourism industry, big and small, to address and embrace the wider market: to reach out to those 25% or so, who are still obliged to travel less, whose choices are limited, and whose experience of the world is governed by barriers which we have the ability to remove.

1 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:




When choosing routes, building trails, or developing new outdoor experiences for travelers don't overlook four-wheel mountain biking and handcycling.

"Mountain biking* is basically a way to hike down the mountain. You can fly down the mountain or you can go slower." ~ Geoff Krill

Explorer II off-road handcycle 024.png
* Also known as Fourcross.

Disabled Sports USA writes about handcycling:

Handcycling was developed in the 1980s by people working to create alternate types of human-powered vehicles. So it was almost by accident that a new world of cycling was opened to people with disabilities.

"It's ideal for people who have no or limited use of their legs, people who have poor balance, or anyone that just wants to try a different sport," said Heather Plucinski of Challenge Alaska. "It opens up a lot of trails and a lot of countryside, a lot of fresh air, and a lot of places you can travel. It's a great piece of adaptive equipment that allows people to get outside."

"The disabled community picked up on it right away," said Ian Lawless, Colorado regional director and cycling director for Adaptive Adventures. Even people with one working arm can handcycle with some modifications made to the equipment, said Lawless. "Just about anyone can do it. It's an accessible sport. It's not just for racing; it's also for recreational riding. It's a barrier breaker that allows a disabled rider to participate in cycling with friends and families who may be riding conventional bicycles."


You will find good introductory videos to the sport of Fourcross at Stacey Kohut's YouTube Channel with action-oriented clips like this one also:

For more see:

An Introduction to Fourcross

Action clips

Teacher Jeeja Ghosh is one of many disabled passengers in the region who experience discrimination in the air. Unfortunately for the air carrier that discriminated against her she is also a well-known and well-like personality internationally. 

 If nothing else, good service against those who seem inconsequential prevents damage like this to the airline, airport and destination.

The United Nation estimates the 1 billion people with disabilities populate the world.

The tourism industry estimates that about 1/10 of those traveling at any one moment are people with disabilities and the rapid aging of the world population will raise that percentage significantly.

Studies show that travelers with disability travel on average with 1.8 people and stay an average of 1.5 days longer than a non-disabled traveler. In addition they make travel decisions more on word-of-mouth than any other group. In other words, losing one trip by a traveler with a disability means losing 2 that were invisible and one hotel night sale as well as the word-of-mouth endorsement of a highly loyal market segment.

Here follows two videos on an incident of airline discrimination against Disability Consultant Rajeev Rajan, demeaningly labeled a "patient" even though he was traveling as a professional to Delhi to testify on disability rights.

Only one day after the incident those he was going to work for in Delhi threatened a lawsuit.

Although outdoor accessibility was something we as disability activists back-burnered as a political priority in the civil rights push of the 1970's - much to the disappointment of those of us whose lives revolved around the outdoors in the pacific Northwest of  the USA - much progress has been made. One institution that has distinguished itself as a provider of technical assistance in outdoor access is the National Center on Accessibility.

It began more than 20 years ago as a cooperative effort between the US Parks Service and Indiana University. The center looks not only at facility access but educates on the concept of program access as well.

Here are training courses that they have available online:

Practitioners often mistake the "program access" standard for only activities requiring advance registration, structured schedules and staffed by personnel or volunteers. However, "program access" really extends to the entire realm of opportunities, experiences and benefits. How does the program access standard in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act apply to parks, recreation and places of tourism? In addition what does the provision for readily accessible and usable goods and services mean for places of public accommodation (Title III)? This 90-minute webinar brings together two of the foremost national experts on program access, John Wodatch, former Disability Section Chief at the Department of Justice, and Ray Bloomer, Accessibility Specialist with the National Park Service, and Director of Education at the National Center on Accessibility. From national parks to river boat cruises, museums to fitness centers, wildlife refuges to performing arts theaters what should every service provider in recreation and tourism know about program access for inclusion of people with disabilities? Join John and Ray for a candid discussion of the program access standard.

FREE!  90 minute webinar archive.  Original broadcast May 29, 2013.   Produced by the National Center on Accessibility and the Great Lakes ADA Center. This session is part of the Arts and Recreation Webinar Series in collaboration with the ADA National NetworkNational Center on AccessibilityThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Smithsonian Institution.

Both Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require state, local and federal entities to develop Transition Plans for the removal of architectural and communication barriers to participation by people with disabilities. But what does a Transition Plan look like? More importantly, what should be the process for developing and administering a successful Transition Plan? John Wodatch, former Disability Section Chief at the Department of Justice, provides an overview of transition plan requirements.  Joining John are accessibility coordinators representing two of the largest federal and state park systems in the nation, Cheri Murdock, Yosemite National Park, and Carole Fraser, New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Learn how each Transition Plan is as unique as the entity developing it, what they used as guiding principles for prioritizing barrier removal, and other secrets to successful implementation.

FREE!  90 minute webinar archive.  Original broadcast July 10, 2013.   Produced by the National Center on Accessibility and the Great Lakes ADA Center. This session is part of the Arts and Recreation Webinar Series in collaboration with the ADA National NetworkNational Center on AccessibilityThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Smithsonian Institution.

Universal design refers to the creation of structures and programs that can be used by all people. This online web module provides an introduction to the concept of Universal Design and its seven principles. In addition, the course presents the history, principles, and progress of Universal Design as it applies to the designer, programmer, and the consumer.

The purpose of this online learning module is to discuss Program Access as a beneficial and necessary concept in providing a meaningful experience to people with disabilities seeking to participate in parks and recreation. Within this comprehensive course, the learner will be introduced to the concepts and principles of Program Access, multiple examples of integrated services, and methods of Program Access implementation.

Among the many technical resources available on this site notice the unique collection of products here: 

What can be learned from the experience of mountain bikers? After all they are wheels-on-trails too. Equally important, in what ways is a mountain bike design unsuitable for a wheelchair user? 

Scott Bike SF.jpg

The answers aren't in this post. This only begins to pose the question with an introduction on the sustainable - but too narrow for a wheelchair - single track trail-building practice of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and the construction of  skillbuilding trail park in Colorado.

The main takeaway from IMBA trailbuilding experience is their attention to environmental sustainability.


For more on the IMBA see their web site:

For the IMBA guide to building single track bike trails see: 

Is there a place for the wheelchair, handcycle, or quadbike user in an environment like this in Community Bike Park in Valmont Bike Park in Colorado?

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. I wanted to find our a little more about disability culture in Nepal. This post features the work of an Indian pioneer in wheelchair-accessible van transport - Prasad Phanasgoakar.

Prasad Phanasgaonkar
, founder of Samartha Travels, is introduced by Craig Grimes at our capacity-building session in Mumbai:

A short clip of Samartha's modified Tata Winger with a platform lift:

Entering a Tavera with a lift that is steep and should be wider:

Wheelchair Riders Guide.jpg

Here is a 2010 interview by Peter Camarda with Bonnie Lewkowicz, founder of Access Northern California ( about her guides to wheelchair access at coastal California trails and parks.

You may download Bonnie's book here as PDF:

 Part 1:


 Part 2:


 Part 3: