Before I share some observations on the area around Mendocino California I thought it would be helpful to republish the series of questions I prepared for the Geotourism Challenge applicants a couple years ago on the triple bottom line approach to tourism:
Questions for Geotourism Projects
Scott Rains, The
Rolling Rains Report
An estimated 10% of those traveling at any point in time
have a disability. These include not only people with visible aids such as
wheelchairs or white canes but also many people with disabilities that are not
immediately obvious to the unaware observer.
Yet "invisible" disabilities, too, can profoundly impact the travel
behavior of people who experience them, for example disabilities that affect
hearing, speaking, reading, reading social signals, or other communication.
The United Nations estimates there are 500 million people
with disabilities in the world while a study by Open Doors Organization in 2002
demonstrated that the 42+ million Americans with disabilities spent $13.6
billion annually on travel. How is this market and this cultural phenomenon
addressed by the tourism industry?
To be considered ecologically sustainable a project must be
socially sustainable. That is, it must be realistic in accounting for the human
needs and cultural variation among those it impacts. The following questions
are meant to stimulate your thinking about how successful you have been in
accommodating the diversity of capacities of travelers in ways that make
earth-sensitive tourism projects open to all.
Do you provide information in various formats so
that it can be independently accessed by users who may or may not be sighted,
hearing, English-speaking, literate?
Do you follow best online practices in Universal
Design such as W3C WAI or Section 508 (a US
web accessibility law) standards?
Does the information you provide include the
sort of information that is essential for someone who, for example, uses a
wheelchair, travels with a companion animal, or is short of stature , or needs
sign language interpreters to participate in certain activities? If not, has
that information been collected and made readily accessible for when a traveler
requests it from you?
Does your knowledge of place and local culture
include explicit knowledge of the local cultures of disability ( i.e Local sign
language dialects, crafts or professional niches traditionally held by persons
with disabilities, historical figures of note who had disabilities?)
Does the marketing material you provide portray
people with disabilities respectfully? (Does it portray them at all?)
Have you made an attempt to employ persons with
disabilities? To seek them out as consultants in product development,
marketing, and evaluation? Employ them on an ongoing basis? ? If so, are they only assigned tasks related
to disability issues? Or do you also
employ workers with disabilities in your mainstream initiatives as well?
If you provide a service to someone without a
disability have you designed that service so that it is accessible to all or
created an alternate system to accomplish an equivalent result?
If such service requires additional or modified
equipment have you attempted to limit the environmental impact of the accommodation
(i.e. Does your wheelchair lift-equipped vehicle operate on biodiesel?)
Have you implemented the insight, adopted in the
LEED (green building) Certification specifications, that building accessibility
is a necessity and is an environmentally practice because it extends the
functionality of a building for its occupants (i.e. aging-in-place,
visitability, lifespan design)? Retrofitting to correct a space that excludes
uses more resources and produces waste material.
Reading on LEED Certification and
Are you aware that the Responsible Tourism
Movement specifies accessibility for all as central to its definition of
on the Responsible Tourism Movement: http://www.rollingrains.com/archives/002134.html
Did you know that participation in sports,
leisure activities, and tourism is a right guaranteed in the UN Convention on
the Rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD; see Article 30)? Do you know if
the country or countries you operate in are signatories of the CRPD or have
similar national legislation and what your legal obligations are under each?
on CRPD Article 30:
If your project involves access to the water
have you familiarized yourself with the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles on
accessibility of maritime environments:
on the Waypoint/Backstrom Principles:
Have you reviewed your program using the seven
principles of Universal Design
1. Equitable Use: The design
does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.
2. Flexibility in Use: The
design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
3. Simple, Intuitive Use: Use
of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience,
knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
4. Perceptible Information:
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user,
regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
5. Tolerance for Error: The
design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or
6. Low Physical Effort: The
design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
7. Size and Space for
Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach,
manipulation, and use, regardless of the user's body size, posture, or
The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are part of the response of the tourism community to the
global challenges of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Interest
in poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability are highlighted in the
criteria. How might your work be enhanced by applying the criteria to
travelers, employees, and destination residents with disabilities?
on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria:
Read more at "Inclusive Tourism:Inclusive Design in the Passionate Embrace of Wanderlust:http://www.rollingrains.com/2009/12/inclusive-tourism--.html