Policy Roundtable on Inclusive Tourism


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Policy Roundtable on Inclusive Tourism

  1. 1. L L L 2ND ROUND TABLE Accessible tourism: for well-being in disability Scott Paul Rains Publisher of Rolling Rains Report here are two productive ways to enter this topic of rather than grudgingly enacted compliance. As I suggest- T governmental policies that facilitate travel by peo- ed yesterday this means systemic design thinking where ple experiencing disabilities. One way is to look at the those who experience disabilities are imagined as vital most comprehensive policies. The other way is to look at customers long before products, policies, or places are the most highly regarded policies or “best practices.” We built. will do both – and take quick glances sideways to under- Concentrating our comments on governmental poli- stand what impact they are having around the globe. cies then, let’s begin with the most comprehensive per- Let me suggest first that the very best resource I have spective. This comes from looking at the United Nations found on this subject is a book by travel writer Candy Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Harrington. Her book, “Barrier-Free Travel: A Nuts & (CRPD). Within the CRPD Article 30 establishes policy on Bolts Guide for Wheelers & Slow Walkers” is an excellent leisure travel. Article 30 is entitled, “Participation in English-language resource on travel under US policies Cultural Life, Recreation, Leisure, and Sport.” for those with mobility impairments. I am reviewing the The United Nations Convention on the Rights of third edition prior to publication and will quote from it Persons with Disabilities or CRPD is an assertion, at the later in my comments. level of international law, of the human rights of all per- The United Nations has produced the most compre- sons with disabilities. It is unique in that it addresses all hensive policy. Best practices are generally found in the aspects of travel: the right to travel freely, accessibility of policies of the EU and the United States. We will look at the means of travel and of destinations, and the right to one UN document and a set of relevant US policies. I full participation in society – cultural inclusion. It is also a focus on US policy because I am better qualified to speak legal framework for evaluating the sufficiency of existing with authority on them than on European policy. I expect national legislation on these topics. that my colleagues will be better suited to reporting the A Comparative Analysis of Disability Laws in the EU situation. United States to the United Nations Convention on the If we were to also examine business policies we would Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been discover that these are underdeveloped. They react to done by the United States National Council of governmental policy so we must understand government Disabilities. policy first. Business policy in the travel industry, with few Here is a quote from the document’s comparison of exceptions, is still driven by fear of the cost of non-com- Article 30 of the CRPD to US Law: pliance to government enforcement. Development of mature business policies requires a complete reversal of Article 30 - Participation in Cultural Life, Recreation, assumptions by the industry. The market value of cus- Leisure, and Sport tomers who experience disabilities must be recognized. The United States’ approach to participation in cultural Then business can innovate with policy based on its own life, recreation, leisure, and sport is based almost entire- internal logic of producing sustainably profitable product ly on an antidiscrimination model. This means that to 101
  2. 2. Extracts from the Proceedings of the International Conference the extent that such opportunities exist for the general policy as tool for the economic development of nations population, the federal government provides a legal and specifically as a tool for the socio-economic inclusion right to people with disabilities to participate in such of persons experiencing disability. activities without discrimination. I feel that the historic significance of our gathering In terms of enforcement, the Department of Justice has here sponsored by the Carlo Besta Institute holds the made accessibility of cultural and recreation facilities a promise of bringing a fourth informed voice to policy priority. development – the medical community – as well as a But the larger project envisioned by Article 30, includ- deepened commitment by Italy which is already well- ing enabling persons with disabilities to develop and respected globally for its economic development and utilize creative and artistic potential, establishing sup- disability projects. Hopefully this side note will stir some port and recognition of specific cultural and linguistic creative thinking about how and where you can become identities, and encouraging mainstreaming of sporting involved in policy development. opportunities, is largely left to private actors and advo- Now to return to analyzing the US situation. cacy organizations. The legal situation in the United States is somewhat Accordingly, a gap exists between U.S. law and CRPD confused. There are two main pieces of legislation protection, albeit one that could be filled with aggres- impacting the process of travel for those who experi- sive implementation and/or additional Congressional ence disability. These laws are the Americans with action. Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA). Two other laws are also important. These are Let me make one of those side notes I promised. It is relevant during travel but also before travel during the about Asia. It illustrates the dynamics at work in this pol- planning, decision-making, and reservation process. icy gap. The dynamic there is being repeated around the The first law is known as the Telecommunications Act of world in different forms. 1996. It deals with telephone and television accessibili- I consult with government, industry, and advocacy ty. The second law is referred to as “Section 508” groups around the world on travel and disability. I although the full title is Section 508. It deals with online observe that developed nations generally place more communication. responsibility on government while less developed nations rely on the actions of business. This has led us in THE ADA the advocacy sector in Asia to hold an international con- Part of the confusion in the US over the ADA and the ference every two years asserting a rights-based ACAA (besides the fact that it all sounds like alphabet approach to tourism and disability. soup) is that not even the experts in charge of enforce- The purpose is to bridge gaps between the laws in ment know where enforcement of one stops and the Asian nations and the CRPD vision. It also allows us to other begins. In general the ADA protects you on the influence business practice. I traditionally give the open- ground and the ACAA once you are in the airplane. ing keynotes which I can provide to anyone who would Another area of confusion exists because laws like copies to research this in more depth. become more or less powerful through amendments, Our first conference was held in Taipei in 2005, our judicial action, or further policy decisions. second conference, hosted by the United Nations, took A quote from the United States National Council of place in Bangkok in 2007, and our current conference, Disabilities about what the ADA (the Americans with partially funded by the sister of the king of Thailand, is Disabilities Act) covers is helpful: about to occur in Singapore. The conferences arose from the United Nations’ Biwako documents and the Coverage of United States Law Millennium Plan. In other words, this initiative for United States domestic law has several provisions that Inclusive Tourism by the advocacy sector represents a prevent discrimination against people with disabilities continent shifting toward comprehensive government in cultural life, recreation, leisure, and sport. Many such 102
  3. 3. NEUROLOGY OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM activities take place at privately owned places of public Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules accommodation – that is, privately owned businesses requiring closed captioning of most, though not all, tele- or establishments that open themselves up to the pub- vision programming. It protects the right to alternative lic – and are covered by Title III of the ADA. As such, phone networks for the deaf which are the technological the owners and operators cannot discriminate in the backbone for the videophones you will now find at full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, O’Hare Airport and drives some of the manufacturer facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommoda- interest in Universal Design in cell phones. tions. Also briefly let me note that section 508 is the US Title III’s reach has therefore extended significantly into manifestation of what you may experience in Europe recreation and cultural opportunities for people with more directly through the Web Accessibility Initiative disabilities. The organizers of sports and recreation (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). activities must make reasonable accommodations Section 508 is the mandate to use Universal Design unless such accommodation would fundamentally alter online that guarantees, for example, applications to read the nature of the goods or services being provided. text aloud for blind or visually impaired users. Thus, for example, the Professional Golf Association Although I pass over these things briefly today I had to provide a golf cart as a reasonable accommoda- observe an unresolved problem everywhere I travel and tion to a professional golfer to allow him to participate research. The need for quality information appropriate to in tournament play. A requested accommodation also those with limited or different functionality presented does not have to made if it causes a direct threat to the and presented in accessible formats is simply not being health or safety of others. Title III has been applied to met. Perhaps that should teach me that I must spend sports leagues; i.e., its coverage is not limited to actual more time on the subject! locations. Similarly, as with any Title III covered entity, facilities that THE ACAA house cultural and recreational opportunities have Let me close with one example from the Air Carriers accessibility obligations. Facilities that predate the ADA Access Act (ACAA). It is a quote from one of my favorite must be accessible to the extent that doing so is “read- books on travel and disability, Candy Harrington’s ily achievable,” and new facilities (and modifications to “Barrier-Free Travel: A Nuts & Bolts Guide for Wheelers existing facilities) must be more fully accessible to peo- & Slow Walkers.”: ple with disabilities in accordance with the [US building code known as] ADAAG standards. The accessibility of Generally speaking, the ACAA outlines procedures that entertainment venues (sports stadiums and movie the- airlines must follow regarding to passengers with dis- atres) has been a heavily litigated area. In particular, abilities. Among other things, the ACAA mandates that there have been several “line of sight” cases, involving people with a disability cannot be denied boarding, the issue of whether people who used wheelchairs are solely because of their disability. It also forbids airlines entitled to seats where they can see over people who from assessing surcharges for the services mandated by stand in the rows in front of them. Another frequently the ACAA. litigated issue is whether wheelchair seating in stadium- The ACAA applies to all U.S. airlines and to all commer- style movie theaters must offer choices of position with- cial flights to and from the United States, including in the theater, and to what extent wheelchair seating those operated by non-U.S. carriers… must be integrated into the stadium seating section of Although many people take the basic non-discrimina- the theater. tion rights in the ACAA for granted, it’s something that’s not guaranteed worldwide. Here are some examples of Telecommunications Act & Section 508 what can and does happen in places that don’t have In the interest of time I will comment only briefly that this kind of legal protection: the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directed the US • Virgin Blue denied passage to unaccompanied 103
  4. 4. Extracts from the Proceedings of the International Conference wheelchair users, who happened to be para- • Disabled passengers who wish to fly on Aeroflot must lympians. be cleared by the company medical department • A woman with cerebral palsy was refused passage on immediately prior to boarding. a South African Express flight, because she could not get in and out of her wheelchair without assistance. An incident she didn’t mention was wheelchair user • Air Asia prohibited disabled passengers from travel- Sminu Jindahl being refused service on Christmas ing unaccompanied. Day 2007 by Jet Airlines. Sminu’s net worth is $1 bil- • Tiger Airways, a no-frills Singapore-based carrier, lion dollars. denied passage to a 24-year-old wheelchair user, By the way, the Air Sahara incident Candy mentioned even though she was accompanied by her family. was Rajiv Rajan last May on his way to do his job testify- • Air Sahara denied passage to an unaccompanied ing to the Indian government in New Dehli about the cur- passenger with cerebral palsy, on the grounds that he rent status of discrimination toward people with neuro- needed an escort or a “fitness to fly” certificate. logical and other impairments while traveling. • Cebu Pacific denied boarding to an unaccompanied Any questions about why I would like to recruit you to disabled passenger with a “neurological disorder.” help us improve policy? 104
  5. 5. Editors Ferdinando Cornelio Scientific Director National Neurological Institute Foundation “Carlo Besta” Milan Graziano Arbosti Manager Socio-Sanitary Research, Scientific Direction National Neurological Institute Foundation “Carlo Besta” Milan Paolo Cornelio Researcher Socio-Sanitary Research, Scientific Direction National Neurological Institute Foundation “Carlo Besta” Milan Scott Paul Rains Publisher of Rolling Rains Report Scientific Committee Organising Committee F. Cornelio, Coordinator G. Arbosti, Coordinator M. Fini M. Luciano L. Tesio G. De Leo G. Filippini P. Cornelio F.A. Compostella C. Gallo M. Imbriani G. Mavellia L. Battistin C. Puppo M. Melazzini L. Vincenzi G. Filippi N. Gianotti M. Carletti