Holidaying with a wheelchair

There are perceptions that people with disabilities live below the poverty line, and that is not true. In fact people with disabilities travel at a slightly higher percentage than the general population.

Travel is all about systems, and for people who have a disability planning ahead is important. Part of the issues is that it is difficult to find marketing material on accessible tourism, and a lack of information on what is accessible to allow the traveler to plan the full journey. People with disabilities are less likely to venture into the unknown because the risks are too high. They need to know things like does the transport cater for their mobility aid? Does their accommodation have wide enough hallways, doorways and room spaces to allow people with mobility aids to move around freely? Does the room they are staying in have an accessible bathroom?  Is there the ability for them to participate in activities through the use of adapted equipment? Is there an option for audio cues for those with limited vision? Plus much more. People with disabilities are not a homogenous group.

For those in the tourism industry who are looking for inspiration, or those looking for a new international holiday destination there is a hotel in Germany that aims to provide a complete barrier-free experience.

The Seehotel Rheinsberg has 104 rooms and 3 suites that are all completely barrier-free. This means that your room will have – depending on disability or degree of restriction – has automatic room doors, upscale hotel-optic care beds with fall protection, and bathrooms for the disabled. Their lobby, restaurant, wellness area are also all barrier free. They provide assistance and aids for most people’s needs and will provide guests with the necessary nursing assistance if needed also.

Creating barrier free travel should be a focus for those in the tourism industry. While this is something to work towards, there are other small things that providers could do to make it easier for those with disabilities to travel. This includes putting useful and relevant information about your service on your website. Do you have wheelchair friendly entrances? Do you have accessible bathrooms? Do you have equipment to help and support people with mobility or physical disabilities? Do you have clear signage? Can you re-arrange rooms to become barrier-free? How much notice do you need for this? Do you offer audio cues to navigate your facility? Do you have a map on your website with information about how to get there? etc.

The positive benefits many people get from travelling usually come from the shared experiences you have with friends, family, and complete strangers. The tourism sector needs to start thinking about how they can make their services accessible for all people, so we can all benefit from shared experiences. With the opportunities for tourism operators being so far, it’s about time accessible tourism was mainstreamed!

Click here to find some Travel and Tour operators on Eldernet

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.