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How Far Have We Come? 
Destinations For All World Summit, 19- 22 October 2014, Montreal, 
Canada 
Scott Rains, srains@ oco...
Seize the business opportunity to widen the market base… 
Develop products and services that are suitable for all 
custome...
As a traveler, if you don’t have reliable information about your 
destination, there’s always somebody ready to give you u...
mobile apps and “crowdsourcing" websites which may help 
some travellers with access requirements but without clear 
stand...
because they can form a culture of hospitality borrowing from 
traditional roots like the Pacific Island “Aloha Spirit or ...
It took decades of work. It has taken visionaries working together - 
not just individual pioneers. It has required those ...
Our next practical breakthrough will be to implement this consensus 
in several key destinations simultaneously. 
First, c...
Now wait why are we talking about design? Didn’t I just say that the 
ISO Standards would solve all our problems? 
Absolut...
If you would like to look more deeply into the history of our field I 
recommend the article by Laurel van Horn and Jose I...
· Study the gaps in their national tourism policies and practices 
as the Canadians on the planning team of this Summit ha...
Destinations For All World Summit, 19- 22 October 2014, Montreal, 
Canada 
http://www.destinationsforall2014.com/en/index
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Destinations for All: How Far Have We Come?

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Destinations for All: How Far Have We Come?

  1. 1. How Far Have We Come? Destinations For All World Summit, 19- 22 October 2014, Montreal, Canada Scott Rains, srains@ oco.net This is the world’s first conference on destinations seen from the perspective of travelers with disabilities. At ITB in Germany you might hear Peter Neumann speaking on one of his excellent studies like the, "Economic Impact and Travel Patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe" or Dimitrios Buhalis evaluating the accessibility of online travel information and booking systems. In Australia you might get to hear Simon Darcy systematically expand our knowledge beyond his groundbreaking 1998 research on the travel behavior of people with disabilities, “From Anxiety to Access.” If you drop in at King Mongkutt University in Bangkok you could learn from SE Asia’s expert on Universal Design in Historic Tourism Sites, Budasakayt Intarapassan. Earlier this month you may even have been fortunate enough to attend the 5th biennial Universal Access in Airports Conference by Chicago’s Open Doors Organization where Eric Lipp and Laurel van Horn constantly move Inclusive Tourism forward. But here we have something new. We have a summit structured to help us assemble all those puzzle pieces around one concrete project: “universal accessibility and inclusion in destinations.” Let’s lay out those pieces to see the pattern. At the end of the Summit we will publish a Manifesto to guide the industry. It will say things like:
  2. 2. Seize the business opportunity to widen the market base… Develop products and services that are suitable for all customers, including people with disabilities… Apply the principles of Universal Design… Build the capacity of managers and staff by providing training… They all boil down to this, “Mainstream access and inclusion” in tourism. Visualize us as part of the world of travelers. Establish standards that make this possible. Hold yourselves accountable wherever your place is in the business ecosystem be it as destination manager, policymaker, hotelier, or NGO serving people with disabilities. Tourism offerings need to distill what we know about access and inclusion so that a travel itinerary is "a continuous path of enjoyment." Destinations are where all that we now know about accessibility and inclusion must come together in a seamless travel experience if we intend to reach the market that is seniors, people with disabilities and those they travel with. That market is huge! One billion people with disabilities now - with possibly 4 billion when you consider travel companions. Estimates expect the percentage of travelers with disabilities to reach 25% by 2020. What stands in the way of our goal? Partly it is reliable information available in accessible formats. Faulty information has cascaded into our current reality: market failure. Before I was paralyzed I was a Boy Scout. We went on lots of hikes. Some lasted for 1 or 2 weeks at a time. Inevitably when we asked one of the adult leaders, “How far is it to tonight’s campsite?” you got a crisp, consistent answer – “Just over the next ridge.” The take away?
  3. 3. As a traveler, if you don’t have reliable information about your destination, there’s always somebody ready to give you useless answers. Why do I say that? Because the data prove it. Earlier this year I translated into English Brazil’s first, and I will editorialize here – long overdue – study on the travel behavior of Brazilians with disabilities. One response was unanimous about the country that just hosted a visit from the Pope, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and will host the Paralympics. All disability sectors surveyed – Deaf, Blind, Cognitive and Mobility-impaired unanimously reported that the destination information available was reliably useless if not outright false in relation to accessibility and inclusion. And yet… With only 1 week to prepare Martin Heng, a tetraplegic from Lonely Planet Travel Publications, arranged for an around-the-world tour. How far have we come in making travel for people with disabilities possible? Far enough that Martin is here in Montreal at this Summit. That is, about halfway back home to Melbourne. Tomorrow morning he will talk to us and give us his up-to-the-minute impressions on destination and transportation accessibility. [4] The need for information relevant to travelers with various limitations keeps surfacing – but that information is still not provided in the mainstream. A couple months ago Martin told me was that he had located about 24 online destination accessibility sites. He was seeing entrepreneurship in action. I mentioned Martin’s findings to Ivor Ambrose. Ivor educated me further. I quote: “ENAT [the European Network for Accessible Tourism,] has identified over 80 websites in Europe with Tourism Accessibility Information but the geographical coverage is very fragmented. Moreover, the information criteria and styles of presentation are inconsistent across the many sites and the reliability can be doubtful in some cases. We are also seeing the arrival of
  4. 4. mobile apps and “crowdsourcing" websites which may help some travellers with access requirements but without clear standards for what things need to be measured and described there will continue to be weaknesses in information delivery. Greater harmonisation or standardisation of information is needed, otherwise the traveller cannot hope to find accurate and reliable access information. “ So, we can truthfully say that the whole world is open to us – with a lot of scouring the web for data -at least if we stick to the major destinations. And yet… Even that is not a sure bet. After physical access what remains is the human factor that makes inclusion possible. The study, “Mapping Skills and Training Needs to Improve Accessibility in Tourism Services” carefully examines 20 training programs. This study is essential reading, by the way, for any destination that hopes to mainstream access and inclusion through professional development. It says in part:: “The maturity of a tourism destination does not seem to have any bearing on the availability of [training] courses [for travel professionals on travelers with disabilities] or [on] the uptake of accessibility.” The knowledge to create relevant product and cultivate inclusive destinations is not being transferred into the industry through quality training. The industry is also not hiring disabled individuals. Their life experience gives them specialized knowledge and a self-interested motivation toward instinctively monitoring for access and inclusion. In other words, fully preparing travel industry workers for this rapidly expanding market is not part of the business culture. I am often surprised where the attitudinal innovation required to achieve inclusion pops up. Frequently, smaller isolated destinations are quickest to recognize the value of the disabled traveler spend and to mainstream access and inclusion into their products and practices. Perhaps that is
  5. 5. because they can form a culture of hospitality borrowing from traditional roots like the Pacific Island “Aloha Spirit or “Atithi devo bhava” from India’s Upanishads which in Sanskrit means “The guest is god.” This afternoon in Parallel Session 10 - Accessible Destinations #2 you will hear from three such destinations that I have had the good fortune to watch succeed over the years. · Roseanna Tudor will speak on the public-private-civil sector partnership model of the past 10 years that is known as Fully Accessible Barbados or FAB. · Eli Meri will talk about how Israel4All has educated its suppliers and shaped the industry locally to mainstream tourism for Deaf, Blind and Mobility-impaired travelers. · Judith Cardenas is owner of Cancun Accessible. She not only dominates the Yucatan Peninsula in inbound tourism for those with disabilities but she also mentors the next generation of Mexican travel professionals in the college courses she teaches. Talk to Judith about preparing travel industry workers beyond the basics. And yet… each of these destinations is held back from their full potential. They can’t reach scale. Their success is not easily replicable because a puzzle piece is missing. We have not yet created “a set of international norms and standards with regards to accessible tourism and transportation.” That phrase, you may have recognized, is verbatim the first aim of this Summit as listed under the D4ALL Summit Goals. So, let’s throw ourselves behind the ISO standards for accessibility but always as supplemental to the humanizing force of local standards of hospitality that take the crucial step from mere compliance to our real goal which is heartfelt and seamless social inclusion. How did we get this far where simple accessibility in many places is now a given allowing culturally-sustained seamless social inclusion to become the current priority on people’s minds?
  6. 6. It took decades of work. It has taken visionaries working together - not just individual pioneers. It has required those groups of visionaries to work together on groups of problems that function as systems. It has taken political will and business skill. These groups labored to make legal and policy environments disabled-friendly. They waded through tangles of norms, certifications, incentives and disincentives. They worked to transform entire systems: transportation, lodging, leisure activities, information and communication systems. We are here at this Summit as a first global attempt to study and adapt destinations as systems that are sustainable from the perspective of travelers with disabilities. We can measure, standardize, legislate and audit but never forget that after analysis or enforcement all this must be synthesized to come together in a seamless travel experience for real human beings operating under the broadest range of conditions with their unique abilities and limitations. You see, even the best systems we have today are patchwork. They were retrofitted from systems where disability was an unquestioned disqualifier to participation. Because, face it, nobody had ever done it right in the past. Nobody. We’re here to change that. Today’s improvements are the raw material for creating local supply chains that make inclusive tourism sustainable in a business sense and the social consensus for inclusion that makes it sustainable in a cultural sense. Our next strategic success will be by agreeing to shared international norms that mainstream tourism accessibility and the service skills that finally make possible real inclusion. Shared norms can be developed into globally standardized audits, training, certification and self-monitoring of our professional behavior. Promoted in marketing destinations, these standardized professional systems promise predictability of quality to travelers with their differing levels of ability and function.
  7. 7. Our next practical breakthrough will be to implement this consensus in several key destinations simultaneously. First, comes an inversion of thinking from putting together the Social Model of Disability with the definition of disability as an interaction between human functionality and environment. Destinations need to come to the painful self-knowledge that a destination itself may be disabled. From there the destination can be free to assume their full responsibility to avoid preventable destination disabilities. You have just witnessed the birth of a new acronym: “PDD” en Anglais - “Preventable Destination Disabilities.” Those sorts of policy, product, architectural and attitudinal barriers that get repeated over and over because destinations get managed in a way that travelers with disabilities are not welcomed by their first name: “Customer”! The simple fact is that never in history have so many lived so long with such wealth and freedom to travel as this aging and disabled bulge in the world’s population. That means that never in history has any destination gotten it right. Travelers with disabilities know that “all travel with a disability is adventure travel.” They also tell us through surveys and travel behavior that destinations who work to get it right will get their business. Almost exactly ten years ago in Rio de Janeiro we proposed that a user-centered design process was the right approach toward eliminating what we can now call the global public health pandemic “Preventable Destination Disabilities” – PDD. We said that to mainstream access and inclusion is to adopt Universal Design, or as it is called in Europe, Inclusive Design. That provides the security of a design process evolved for systematically applying a way of experiencing the world with everybody in mind. Stated formally Universal Design is … a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design.”
  8. 8. Now wait why are we talking about design? Didn’t I just say that the ISO Standards would solve all our problems? Absolutely not! Not everything can be standardized. The evidence from countries, like my own the USA, with watertight building accessibility standards, is that a reactive attitude forms toward them. On a pure profit calculation accessibility becomes a numbers game. Compliance with building codes to avoid fines and lawsuits sets up an internal logic where customers with disabilities are a potential risk rather than a profit center. Our way out of that is a design approach that requires interaction with real people and their real abilities and limitations. An open iterative human-centered design process can build that humanized atmosphere that standards can only partially insure. I know several people here were also there ten years at the International Conference on Universal Design in Rio de Janeiro – “Designing for the 21st Century”. Make a little noise so people can identify you. · Jani Nayar – Jani is from SATH. She will talk in Tuesday’s Parallel Session 20 about Games and Accessible Stadia · Laurel van Horn is from the Open Doors organization. She will talk in Parallel Session 16 on Markets and Marketing revealing her organization’s newest authoritative study on American travelers with disabilities and how to reach them. · Although it was Betty Dion and Marie Peters who represented GAATES at that first international workshop on Inclusive Tourism in Rio, we have here from GAATES Mukthar Al- Shibani, Bob Topping, and Anne Frye. They will talk in Monday’s Parallel Session 2 on Case Studies opening up a topic we rarely explore - accessibility in religious tourism. · Regina Cohen – Regina is from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She will give three presentations at this Summit. Particularly relevant to my point is the fascinating Emotional Design concept of atmospheres which she will introduce in her talk in Session 19 on Museums for All.
  9. 9. If you would like to look more deeply into the history of our field I recommend the article by Laurel van Horn and Jose Isola, “Toward a History of Inclusive Tourism.” If you want to dig deeper into best practices pick up a copy of “Best Practice in Accessible Tourism” edited by Dimitrios Buhalis and Simon Darcy. I suggest that you read it alongside the 2003 Keroul study. Did you know that in 2003 Keroul completed the study, “Best Practices in Tourism Accessibility for Travellers with Restricted Physical Ability?” They wrote it for APEC the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group which set accessibility in tourism as one of its goals back in 2000. The puzzle pieces are being laid out here at this Summit. We have chosen topics and selected presenters so that careful analysis is available to us. What we need is a future project to bring that analysis full circle back to synthesis and action in specific destinations. The European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) is being asked to prepare and coordinate an international body that will act globally for the promotion of Accessible, Inclusive Tourism and Destinations for All. Among its responsibilities will be as a professional association for “registered practitioners” in inclusive tourism. That approach will encompass and surpass the current certificated access auditing profession to show the way beyond the minimum-compliance-only-approach. There is no question that the time has come for this. The unrelenting market failure in regard to seniors and travellers with disabilities demands it. What I want to know is who will be the half dozen destinations around the globe who leave here taking on their responsibility to make themselves a seamless travel experience for all regardless of age or ability. They will need to:
  10. 10. · Study the gaps in their national tourism policies and practices as the Canadians on the planning team of this Summit have been doing. · Study the market potential and travel behaviour of their citizens with disabilities as Open Doors Organization has done on three separate occasions for the USA. · Develop a consensus plan involving business, government, the civil sector and academics on how to move ahead as Australia has done under the leadership of Simon Darcy. · Help develop and then implement standards for accessibility audits, professional training, and performance monitoring through the body that ENAT will form following this summit. · Market their accessibility and inclusion philosophy and offerings comprehensively as Flanders is doing in their project, “The Great War Centenary - accessible to everyone.” · Report back on successes, failures and yet-to-be completed goals as the framers of the “Takayama Declaration on Development of Community for All” has done to aid the organizers of this Summit. How far do we have to go before we reach our next resting place? I could tell you, “Oh, just over the next ridge” but I think you’d see through that line by now. So let me just end with this offer. How about a group of us head out, together, under six of the 30 or so different flags represented here at the Summit, to see for ourselves what is “just over the next ridge?” - 30 –
  11. 11. Destinations For All World Summit, 19- 22 October 2014, Montreal, Canada http://www.destinationsforall2014.com/en/index

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