“Accessible Tourism is relevant for everybody,” says Accessible Tourism Consultant Chris Veitch. On NewMind.com, Mr. Veitch presents a detailed discussion about travel and tourism, and people with disabilities, including the money they bring to business. According to England’s tourism agency, VisitEngland (https://www.visitbritain.org/), travellers with disabilities tend to stay longer, with an average length of stay of 3.3 nights compared to 2.9 for the market as a whole. Their average spending is also higher per night away, compared to the average spending level.
People with disabilities are active members of the workforce and often need to participate in offsite meetings and conventions, an article on Skiff.com wants to remind hospitality professionals. “Meeting and event planners must ensure they are accommodated,” says David Dikter, CEO of Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), an organization representing manufacturers, sellers, and providers of assistive technology for people with disabilities.
Apple has announced that its Everyone Can Code course materials are now accessible to students who are blind and deaf. Everyone Can Code teaches coding in Swift, a programing language. The simple, fun coding lessons can be modified to suit students from kindergarten to college. It’s also fun to use, because it lets you see what you’re creating with code as you write it - as the user types on the left, he or she immediately see the result on the right.
In Wales, train cars are being updated and modified, as part of a plan to make sure rail services are fully accessible for customers with reduced mobility. By the end of 2019, all trains in Wales will be compliant with EU regulations known as Persons of Reduced Mobility. The regulations were created to ensure there are no barriers for using public transport.
In 2015 North American travelers with disabilities spent $17.3 billion on travel, significantly more than $13.6 billion in 2002. At the same time, complaints about airlines made by passengers with disabilities have doubled to more than 30,000 per year. Amadeus, a travel industry technology company, released a report on barriers to accessibility across stages of the passenger journey that may hold some answers as to why.
In South Korea, consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung is looking at ways that technology, including artificial intelligence, can help people with disabilities. Samsung says its developers are “listening closely to the feedback of those with disabilities, and developing tests so they can directly experience the inconveniences themselves.” Samsung says it is developing a number of technologies with an eye to ensuring accessibility for anyone and everyone, that have the potential to dramatically help those with disabilities, the elderly, and many others.
The state government of Western Australia, like the Province of Ontario, is making a point of encouraging employers to hire people with disabilities. Its Count Me In strategy was launched in 2009, with an aim for “all people to live in welcoming communities that facilitate citizenship, friendship, mutual support and a fair go for everyone.”
In Owen Sound, Ontario, free portable ramps will soon make downtown shops more accessible for people using wheelchairs, wheeled walkers and pushing strollers. The first ramps were placed in front of two Owen Sound shops in the spring, for a ceremonial kick-off to promote use of the ramps downtown this summer. “It’s a no-brainer,” said one of the recent ramp recipients. “Why would I want to keep anyone from my store?”
Housing is an ongoing challenge for many people with disabilities, as the cost of housing keeps rising – exponentially in many communities. On her blog Free Wheelin, writer Karin Willison describes the “tiny house” on wheels as a solution that is affordable and can be easily worked into existing communities.
People with disabilities navigating the streets of Edmonton will soon have a new tool to try out. The “Click ’n’ Push” app will measure how much force a person in a wheelchair exerts while navigating the city, and then predict the degree of difficulty of a route, taking into account the user’s strength.
A Toronto builder has caught onto the idea of intentionally designing condos that are easily modified to accommodate people with disabilities. Most builders don't currently offer accessibility as a standard option, and adding such features or retrofitting an existing unit can run to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.