Travelling is something we should all have the freedom to do, but with a disability this can become difficult and challenging. However, the travel industry has evolved its modes of transport to make travelling for people with disabilities much easier and more accessible.
Architectural barriers in the travel industry.
Throughout the ages, travel hasn’t been the most disability friendly and there has been a lot of architectural barriers preventing people with wheelchairs and other mobility difficulties from using their services.
It’s estimated that there are over a billion people in the world living with some form of disability, and more than two billion people living as caregivers for said people with a disability. This is a huge number, so it’s surprising that it’s taking so long for accessible tourism to become a readily available thing.
Not only does having an inaccessible mode of transport deter people with disabilities from using your service and resulting in a smaller market, it is also discriminatory and is seen as unethical practice.
For example, a bus, plane or train without a ramp or enough dedicated wheelchair space might make wheelchair uses feel unwelcome and it can be embarrassing for them if they do decide to use the mode of transport but need significant help onboarding the vehicle. Having a gas lifted ramp and wider aisles on your bus, plane or train will give those with disabilities easier access to your services and allow them to feel more comfortable when travelling with you.
Through careful consideration and developments, the travel industry has evolved to become a more inclusive, diverse business that allows travellers of all abilities to get from A to B, no matter how far those destinations may be from one another.
Making travel holidays more accessible.
It’s not just about having ramps and space available in your hotel accommodation or on your flight. Disabilities can range from visible, physical, mental and ‘invisible’ disabilities which you wouldn’t know a person has without them telling you.
Meaning that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to making your travel holiday more inclusive for those with disabilities. It’s important to do your research and find out what things you can provide to make sure you’re accommodating if a disabled person is travelling with you. For example, some lifesaving medication needs to be kept at a certain temperature, meaning that a person may require fridge access to store this in.
If a person flying with your airline has impaired hearing, they might require signage and written instructions to follow or subtitles on video demonstrations such as safety procedures before a plane takes off.
Or if a person struggles with their vision it’s important to have clearly marked platforms for waiting on in train stations, along with the option of assisted train travel if the person so requires it.
It’s also good practice to have spacious bathrooms onboard your mode of transport with changing facilities, supportive handles and an alarm in place if assistance is required.
International action for better, more inclusive travel.
Governments from around the world are beginning to enforce legal standpoints in which they must adhere to for inclusive travel for all.
This includes the commitment to develop a training course for transport staff to learn about disability awareness and what they can do to help provide effective customer service to someone with a disability. With this training, staff will also be able to spot any issues that still remain within their transport area and report them quickly so that they can be resolved.
It’s important that these factors are considered in order to be truly hospitable and to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to enjoy travelling.