All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Research Programme Area in Access Tourism at NZTRI/AUT a First for NZ

Auckland University of Technology's New Zealand Tourism Research Institute has created a Research Programme Area in Access Tourismheaded by Dr Sandra Rhodda. The announcement states:
"NZTRI’s Access Tourism programme aims to research and develop Access Tourism in NZ.  Access Tourism is tourism, travel, and hospitality for people with permanent or temporary disabilities, seniors, parents with strollers, and any person with a need for improved access.  This is an interdisciplinary research area that addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by Access Tourism.
The Access Tourist already represents a sizeable proportion of our tourism markets.  Between 17 and 20% of the population in our main markets already report a disability, and this percentage is bound to grow because the large Baby Boomer cohort is ageing and disability increases with age.  Those aged 45 or older already comprise almost half of our domestic and international visitors (and over 70% of our cruise ship visitors).

Areas of interest include:
  • Research and policy development
  • Understanding the Access Tourism market
  • Awareness promotion and education of government and industry to the potential of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism product development and marketing in NZ
  • Promotion of cooperation in a developing Access Tourism sector, including in the public and private sector
  • Access Tourist satisfaction and motivation
  • Economic and social benefits of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism as an important factor in tourism sustainability
  • Relationship of Access tourism to Health, Wellness, and Medical Tourism
  • Opportunities for Access Tourism legacy development around major events such as RWC2011"
  • Source:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Towards Strategic Intent: Perceptions of disability service provision amongst hotel accommodation managers

As identified in a previous post on the accommodation needs of people with disabilities, Inherent Complexity, there were some 55 room components that made up the Hotel Accessibility Scale, where each one could be critical for any tourist with a disability. Photo 1 shows an accessible bedroom at a hotel where the bed height, circulation space beside the bed, the space between the floor and underside of the bed could be critical for wheelchair users. 

Photo 1: Accessible Bedroom at a Hotel
Source: © Simon Darcy 2007

The accessibility of the hotel room, bathroom and public spaces are critical to two interrelated aspects of a person's visit. First, can they access the premise generally (e.g. parking, drop-off, getting in the front door to reception, accessible reception desk (see Photo 2) etc.) and whether the room can meet the requirements for their personal care needs (e.g. circulation space, sleeping, bathing, use the toilet etc.). Second, if this first criteria can be met then the other public spaces of the hotel will determine their interactions with the staff and other guests and, hence, the overall quality of their experience in the hotel. 

Photo 2: Reception Desk with Dual Height Areas For Wheelchair Users or People with Short Stature
Source: © Simon Darcy 2007

Across all dimensions of access (mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive) the component people rated as "very important" and had the highest mean score was a "can-do customer service attitude". Yet, there has been very little examination in the literature of hotel and lodging manager's perceptions of servicing people with disabilities. An article has just been published that summarises the previous literature and undertakes a study of hotel managers perceptions of disability service provision.

The tourism sector globally has become increasingly mindful of how an ageing population is reshaping how and in what form services should be offered. This is particularly true of accommodation operations where there is a now a growing recognition of the commercial value for providing market groups with exceptional service. With this in mind, this study sought to ascertain the perceptions of managers in the accommodation sector towards disability service provision with a view to identifying any current service gaps or failings. An inductive, qualitative approach was used with the data collection phase incorporating a series of one on one interviews and a focus group. The in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 managers of hotels deemed to have accessible rooms that complied with the relevant building codes and standards. A focus group comprised 22 managers of hotels located in the Sydney central business district, Australia. Study findings revealed five key themes that had not been previously discussed in the literature. They were: inclusive attitudinal approach; safety; the responsibility of people with a disability to communicate their needs to the hotel; perceptions of accessible rooms by the general public; and operational processes. Related themes that emerged from the data analysis that had previously been aligned with the literature included: legislative responsibility, policy and building codes; disability as a market segment; staff awareness/training; and language, marketing, and promotion information. Implications with respect to management of accessible rooms in the accommodation sector are outlined and further areas of research are proposed.
Crown Copyright©2010PublishedbyElsevierLtd.Allrightsreserved.

Darcy, S., & Pegg, S. (2010). Towards Strategic Intent: Perceptions of disability service provision amongst hotel accommodation managers. International Journal of Hospitality Management, In Press, Corrected Proof. doi: DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhm.2010.09.009

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Call for Cool Accessible Tourism Photos - Get Published, Get Exposure!

As outlined yesterday, we are finally about to publish two books on accessible tourism, one on concepts and issues, and the other on international case studies. Both these have been under preparation for some 2 to 3 years where calls went out for contributors. All up there are some 40 chapters.

However, I am still looking for contributions for photographs to include on the front covers.

The frontcover concept that we are considering is four images that best represent the dimensions of disability being mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive that would be arranged as postcards on the front cover.

While there are plethora of images around mobility (wheelies doing all sorts of cool holiday activities), images of people with vision, hearing and cognitive impairments are a little more difficult to obtain.

Probably for the vision image we would be looking for a visually impaired or blind person who person who uses a guide dog or white stick doing something in a holiday scenario. I have a reasonably good one of somebody boarding an airline with their guide dog but would like something more active.

For people who are Deaf or have a vision impairment the image would probably entail some sort of interpretive service where a sign language interpreter is present.

From the cognitive perspective, it will probably be an image of somebody with a visible intellectual or developmental disability like down syndrome who is enjoying a active recreation/holiday experience.

Do you get what I mean?

These images must be your own where you could grant permission to use the images, must be high resolution and in exchange your photography will be credited within the book. If you have other people who you think could contribute such images please do not hesitate to forward this blog post to them.

For the second book, we are also on the outlook for images that consider the supply side such as accessible transport, attractions, hotels, outdoor infrastructure, signage, guidebooks etc. Of course, if we can get a wide geographic spread of iconic images then this may also be a consideration. For example, Photo 1 is of the Sydney Opera House that we took for a research project we were doing that shows an accessible pathway down to one of the wonderful restaurant/bar areas.

Photo 1:  Accessible pathway at the Sydney Opera House that winds down to the wonderful Opera Bar & Restaurant areas
Source: © Simon Darcy 2007

Of course we need the photos ASAP.

Please email any contributions directly to me on and identify in the email:
1. A description of the photo e.g. Shirley Jones, a Deaf woman, enjoying a sign language interpreted visit to the Smithsonian
2. Country and city where the photo was taken
3. Photographer
4. A statement that it is your photo.

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Comparable levels of travel between PwD and the Nondisabled

I was recently asked what were the compatible levels of travel between people with disabilities and nondisabled. Interestingly, there has been relatively little work done in this area. The earliest work was Woodside and Etzel (1980) who undertook the first empirical study on disability and tourism that sought to discover the role of physical and mental conditions on tourism vacation behaviour. The survey found that 10 percent of the 590 respondents to a household survey in the US State of South Carolina who had gone on a trip had a member of their party with a ‘physical or mental condition’. They concluded that while the demographic characteristics of those travelling did not vary significantly from other households, those with a person with a disability had lower level of travel than the general population.

Only the Australian government's Bureau of Tourism Research (2003 now Tourism Research Australia) have collected data at a national level that allows comparison between the rates of travel for people with disabilities and the general population. The data has been used to estimate comparative travel patterns between different disability groups as well as the basis for economic contribution studies (Darcy, 2003; Darcy et al., 2008). This work was succinctly summarized by Darcy (2010, pp. 816-817):

As shown in Figure 1, Dwyer and Darcy (2008) use the Australian National Visitor Survey demographic data to identify the statistically significant differences between the comparative travel patterns of PwD and the nondisabled. While day trips occur at the same level (p = .992), the nondisabled travel at 21% higher rate for overnight stays (p = .000) and 52% higher rate for overseas travel (p = .000). Other studies have identified that problems with finding accessible accommodation during the travel planning stage was noted as a significant constraint to overnight and overseas travel.

Figure 1: Comparative travel patterns between PwD and the Nondisabled

What was not specifically stated was that people with a disability as a proportion of all travellers made up 13% of the daytripper market, 11% of the domestic overnight travel market and 7% of outbound travellers. The proportion of the outbound travel market was also supported by the US Open Doors Organization study that found that approximately 7% of the overseas travel market was made up of people with disabilities (HarrisInteractive Market Research, 2003, 2005).

The question that I pose lurkers on this blog is, “are there other data sources that compare the travel rates of people with disabilities and the nondisabled?”

I look forward to your responses.


Accessible Tourism book due for Publication

Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues

It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce an advanced publication notice for a book that I had co-edited with Prof Dimitrios Buhalis of Bournemouth University and published with Channel View Publications - 
The book titled, "Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues" seeks to bring together the underlying concepts and issues relating to accessible tourism so as to provide a foundation for industry, government and the not-for-profit sector understanding of the area.

The book consists of 19 chapters that examine:
  • Chapter 1 – Introduction (Darcy and Buhalis);
  • Chapter 2 – Conceptualising Disability: Medical, Social, WHO ICF, Dimensions and Levels of Support Needs (Darcy and Buhalis);
  • Chapter 3 – Accessibility: A Key Objective for the Tourism Industry (Eichhorn and Buhalis);
  • Chapter 4 – Disability Legislation and Empowerment of Tourists with Disability: The UK Case (Shaw and Veitch);
  • Chapter 5 – Understanding Tourist Experience through Embodiment: The Contribution of Critical Tourism and Disability Studies (Small and Darcy);
  • Chapter 6 – Tourism in the Leisure Lives of People with Disability (Foggin);
  • Chapter 7 – Travelling with and beyond Depression: Women’s Narratives of Recovery and Identity (Fullager);
  • Chapter 8 – Encounters of Disabled Customers on the Tourism Stage (Arola – Edited by Cooper, C.);
  • Chapter 9 – Blind People’s Tourism Experiences: An Exploratory Study (Poria, Reichel and Brandt); Chapter 10 – Demographic Drivers of Change in Tourism and the Challenge of Inclusive Products (Shaw and Veitch);
  • Chapter 11 – Ageing Travellers: Seeking an Experience and not just a Destination (Patterson and Pegg);
  • Chapter 12 – Ageing Travel Market and Accessibility Requirements (Wang);
  • Chapter 13 – Attitudinal and Experimental Differences of Disabled and Ablebodied Visitors to Heritage Sites (Pearn);
  • Chapter 14 – Economic Contribution of Tourists with Disabilities: An Australian Approach and Methodology (Darcy and Dwyer);
  • Chapter 15 – Developing a Business Case for Accessible Tourism (Darcy, Cameron and Pegg);
  • Chapter 16 – Stakeholder Analysis (Michopoulou and Buhalis);
  • Chapter 17 – Webdesign, Assistive Technologies and Accessible Tourism (Puhretmair and Nussbaum);
  • Chapter 18 – Technology Platforms and Challenges (Michopoulou and Buhalis);
  • Chapter 19 – Conclusion: A Call towards Universal Approaches to Accessible  (Darcy, Ambrose, Schweinsberg and Buhalis)

For further information please see:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Zealand Accessible Tourism Conference Follow-up: Excellent Podcast and Powerpoint Resource

The first New Zealand Accessible Tourism Conference was held last Monday, 4 October 2010, and hosted by the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology.

One of the almost instant outcomes of the conference has been the podcast publication of the 10 speakers and the breakout session, of which 7 of speakers podcasts were accompanied by Powerpoint presentations.

These are all freely available via the following website link

More conferences should take this approach as both a contribution to the free exchange of information and recognition that people with disabilities face more barriers to travel generally and underlying economic constraints specifically.

Enjoy the resource and provide feedback to the organisers via the blog comments option at the bottom of each speakers page.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Zealand’s First Accessible Tourism Conference

Sandra Rhodda and the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute are hosting New Zealand’s first accessible tourism conference on Monday 4 October

Conference speakers include:
Diana Palmer:            Information on Disability Education Awareness Services (IDEAS), NSW, Australia.  Diana has just returned from a Blakeney Millar Churchill Fellowship in North America, Europe, the UK, and parts of Asia, where she studied developments in Access Tourism 
Kathy Olsen:   Director of Squiz NZ, an expert in web accessibility
Minnie Baragwanath:           Auckland City Council.  Minnie will discuss Access developments in Auckland around RWC2011, including the creation of an accessible business toolkit as part of the business readiness programme
Bill Forrester: Travability Australia, Inbound Tourism and Access Tourism

Those registered to attend so far include representatives from industry training organisations, the NZ Automobile Association, Air NZ, local governments, national and international non-governmental organisations, tourism operators, tourism travel agencies, tourism industry sector organisations, the Department of Conservation, regional tourism organisations, business development agencies, development consultants, access assessment agencies, and academics.

For a full program see:

We wish Sandra and the NZTRI all the best.

Photo 1:          Blogger and Fiona at the conference city Auckland in 2005
Source: unknown tourist who took our photo!

Photo 2:          Craig Kennedy from AccessAnything showing the off the beaten access track New Zealand style

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inherent Complexity: Accessible Accommodation Room Components

After a short hiatus over June and July I am resuming the blog with recently published accessible tourism research on the accommodation sector. For people with specific access accommodation needs, locating accessible accommodation is the precursor to any trip. Hence, for destination management not to pay attention to this essential criteria suggests that they are not taking the accessible tourism market seriously. What became apparent over the last two decades of disability tourism research is that it is time to move beyond looking at the constraints facing people in the process of travel planning and the barriers faced whilst travelling to create a greater sophistication to our understanding and to provide solutions for their negotiation so people may travel to where they wish to.

Most research had identified the generalities of accessible accommodation requirements without having any specific empirical approach to understanding the needs from a mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive perspective. Each individual has their own access discourse where they value the relative importance of certain room components based on their individual access needs (e.g. many wheelchair users require a roll in shower & hand held shower hose Photo 1). While the overall building codes and access standards identify a myriad of components, the individual only understands at least complex technical documents from what they require in an accessible room (Australian Building Codes Board, 1990; Standards Australia, 1992, 2001, 2002). On the other hand, the accommodation manager manly as a understanding that their establishment has a “disabled room” that people with disability should be other stay in. Hence, once an individual hears that establishment has an accessible room they believe that it will meet their needs (Darcy, 2010).

Photo 1: Roll in shower hand held shower hose (Fiona Darcy 2010)

This research sought to bridge the gap between two different access discourses by providing a firm empirical base on which to understand that the accommodation room requirements of the major disability groups who would use accessible rooms. Once this was established in the research, the research then went on to test three standard forms of information provision and one innovative approach to information provision for the different dimensions of access needs. What became apparent was that while each group required different room components for different reasons, it was generally agreed that the information about the room requirements need to accurate, detail and richly descriptive. To do so required the provision of :
1.       technical measurements;
2.       textual description;
3.       a spatial understanding of the room; and
4.       to complement the first three provisions, the information needed to be reinforced with digital photography that focused on the access features.

The results of this research have also been published in industry specific journals informing the research community as to the methodology used (Darcy, 2007b), the accommodation lodging sector to explain the power of detailed knowledge in marketing and promotion ,(Darcy, 2007a) and to inform access consultants and occupational therapists as to the specific technical requirements that were drawn on from the building codes and standards (Darcy, 2008; Darcy & Cameron, 2008b). The resulting accessible accommodation assessment template has been operationalised for regionally based destination management development (Darcy & Cameron, 2008a; Dickson & Darcy, 2010; Dickson & Hurrell, 2008). Lastly, the article provides researchers in other countries with a scale based tool for measurement, the Hotel Accessibility Scale,  the requirement for the dimensions of access of people with disabilities accessible accommodation requirements.

The reference and abstract for the research is:
Darcy, S. (2010). Inherent complexity: Disability, accessible tourism and accommodation information preferences. Tourism Management, 31(6), 816-826.

Studies have identified serious issues with the way that accessible accommodation information is documented, promoted and marketed. Yet, no research has investigated the criteria that people with disabilities determine as ‘important’ to selecting accommodation and their preference for presenting this information. This paper presents the results of an online questionnaire to determine the relative importance of room selection criteria through the development of a 55-item Hotel Accessibility Scale. Four information formats were then presented to ascertain the preferences of the respondents. The results suggest that while socio-demographic variables offered some insight into criteria selection, the most significant explanation for criteria selection and information preferences were through the dimensions of disability and level of support needs. The preferred format of accessible accommodation information provision was based on a combination of textual, floorplan and digital photography. The management implications suggest that detailed information provision using this format has benefits for accommodation stock yield and social sustainability.

Australian Building Codes Board. (1990). Building Code of Australia. Canberra: CCH Australia.
Darcy, S. (2007a). Disability Awareness - are you losing business? OurHotel - Magazine of the Australian Hotels Association, 2007(Summer), 42-45.
Darcy, S. (2007b, 11-14 February). A methodology for assessing class three accessible accommodation information provision. Paper presented at the Tourism - Past Achievements, Future Challenges, Manly Pacific Novotel, Manly - Sydney Australia.
Darcy, S. (2008, 29-31 October). Valuing Accessible Rooms: Understanding Accessible Tourism Accommodation Information Preferences. Paper presented at the CREATING INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES - conference of the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia, Hyatt Regency, Adelaide.
Darcy, S. (2010). Inherent complexity: Disability, accessible tourism and accommodation information preferences. Tourism Management, 31(6), 816-826.
Darcy, S., & Cameron, B. (2008a). Accessible Accommodation Assessment Template [Software template]. Sydney: © University of Technology, Sydney and Easy Access Australia.
Darcy, S., & Cameron, B. (2008b). Accommodating Tourism: Hotel accommodation, accessible tourism and market principles - Evidence-based research. [Research note]. Independent Living: Official journal of Independent Living Centres Australia 24(4), 24-28.
Dickson, T., & Darcy, S. (2010). The Alpine Accessible Tourism Project and Disabled WinterSport  Australia. In D. Buhalis, S. Darcy & I. Ambrose (Eds.), Accessible Tourism Practice: International Case Book (pp. 1-40). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications (in press).
Dickson, T., & Hurrell, M. (Writers). (2008). Alpine Accessibility Tourism Toolkit [DVD]. In T. Dickson (Producer). Australia: Australian Tourism Development Program/Australian Federal Government Initiative.
Standards Australia. (1992). AS 1428.2 - Design for access and mobility - Enhanced and additional requirements - Buildings and facilities ([Rev. ] ed.). North Sydney, NSW: Standards Australia.
Standards Australia. (2001). AS 1428.1 Design for access and mobility - General requirements for access - New building work. Homebush, NSW: Standards Australia.
Standards Australia. (2002). AS/NZS 1428.4 - Design for access and mobility - Tactile indicators North Sydney, NSW: Standards Australia.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sydney for All adds Darling Harbour Precinct's Accessible Destination Experiences

As discussed in previous blog entries, the concept of quality accessible tourism experiences has gained little attention in the literature with most work concentrating on “access” as literally stopping at getting in the door. Access to the physical premise or alternative information provision should be the starting point for developing truly accessible destination experiences across including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access. Understanding accessible destination experiences also needs to incorporate the level of support needs of the individual whether they are independent in their tourism interactions through to those who have very high support needs and require one on one assistance 24 hours a day. These conceptual foundations have been brought together in a forthcoming chapter that develops a more complex understanding of disability, tourism and accessible tourism (Darcy, Ambrose, Buhalis, & Schweinsberg, 2010).

Quality accessible tourism experiences were at the centre of a Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre project on Visitor Accessibility in Urban Centres (Darcy et al., 2008). The outcome of the project was the development of the Sydney for All Web portal that brought together good quality accessible tourism experiences across mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive dimensions of access across the continuum of support needs. Business 21C undertook a short video to encapsulate the philosophy of the project and to examine what makes for quality accessible tourism experiences. The video can be viewed at the following website . The work also encapsulated outdoor environments including national parks, Sydney Harbour and open space areas within the Sydney central business district including the Royal Botanic Gardens. A more detailed examination of presenting outdoor access information has been outlined in an article for the Australasian Parks and Leisure Journal that focused on the Sydney Harbour National Park North Head Look Out (Darcy, Cameron, Dwyer, & Taylor, 2008).

Photo 1: Stop Press - Sydney for All wins World Leisure Organisation's 2010 Innovation Prize IN

The Sydney for All project has now been extended through a grant from the City of Sydney to include the Darling Harbour Tourism Precinct. This work has been carried out by Bruce Cameron, Director Easy Access Australia, and sought to provide a series of additional accessible destination experiences within this precinct. To this end, the following providers have been highlighted as providing high quality accessible destination experiences:
  • The Chinese Gardens of Friendship;
  • IMAX theatre;
  • Australian National Maritime Museum; and
  • Powerhouse Museum.
Within each of these providers, there are a series of mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive activities that can be undertaken across the continuum of support needs. Part of the project includes a built in research loop that both quantitatively and qualitatively assesses the experiences that individuals have in undertaking these destination experiences. Sydney for All has received a 2009 Vision Australia’s Making a Difference Award for W3C compliance for website accessibility for people with vision impairments or those who use screen readers, has received a highly commended award from Uniquest for innovative social media development and a University of Technology Sydney human rights award for social media development.

Photo 2: Bruce Cameron completing access audits for the Darling Harbour precinct (©  2010 Patty Mazza)

Darcy, S., Ambrose, I., Buhalis, D., & Schweinsberg, S. (2010). Chapter 20 - A call towards universal approaches to accessible tourism. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 320-340). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.
Darcy, S., Cameron, B., Dwyer, L., & Taylor, T. (2008). Research Note: Understanding accessible spaces and places: Web portal and the North Head Lookout Case Study. [refereed research note]. Australasian Parks and Leisure, 11(3 Spring), 28-34.
Darcy, S., Cameron, B., Dwyer, L., Taylor, T., Wong, E., & Thomson, A. (2008). Visitor accessibility in urban centres (pp. 75).  Retrieved from

Sunday, May 23, 2010

TRANSED Accessible Public Transport and Tourism Conference, Hong Kong China 2-4 June 2010

One of the great experiences of working within universities, academia and the international research environment is the opportunity to attend conferences, share ideas and network with people from all over the world. One such opportunity is the TRANSED 2010 – 12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Person to be held in Hong Kong, China 2-4 June  2010. The conference has stream on accessible tourism research and policy that brings together perspectives from all over the world. I am lucky enough to be a plenary speaker and I am looking forward to the conference as a first time visitor to Hong Kong and experiencing the delights of one of Asia’s great cities. The conference incorporates a series of opportunities to undertake field visits to a variety of accessible transport and tourism offerings and I will be availing myself of these opportunities. As a person with high support needs, I will also report on my experiences as a traveler with disabilities to Hong Kong. It is excellent to see that the Hong Kong Tourism Board (2010) at least has a page on Accessible Hong Kong.

In continuing from Rafael de Castro's (2010) research, Hong Kong is a city where east meets west in so many ways yet there has been very little examination in the literature of cross-cultural accessible tourism issues. In disability studies more generally, there is a recognition that disability has a cultural construct that must be factored into the way that Western disability studies theory is applied in non-Western systems. For example the work of Miles (1982, 2000, 2001), has critiqued the different value systems between eastern and western philosophies and the implications that this has for policy implementation. There has been research completed on accessible tourism in an Asian context (Bi, Card, & Cole, 2007; McKercher, Packer, Yau, & Lam, 2003; Packer, McKercher, & Yau, 2007; Yau, McKercher, & Packer, 2004) but interestingly this work has not discussed cross-cultural considerations within accessible tourism research.

As a western traveller to Hong Kong, I will report back on my observations of cross-cultural considerations that I experience as well those of my fellow travellers. If you like a personal ethnography or more correctly a heuristic inquiry that draws on the researchers experience of the phenomenon and the essential experience of others who also experience the phenomenon (Patton, 1990, p. 71).

Photo 1: Hong Kong Tourism Board website page image

Bi, Y., Card, J. A., & Cole, S. T. (2007). Accessibility and Attitudinal Barriers Encountered by Chinese Travellers with Physical Disabilities. Int. J. Tourism Res, 9, 205-216.
de Castro, R. T. (2010). Accessibility of Tourists with Special Needs to Air Transport Unpublished Masters, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro.
Hong Kong Tourism Board. (2010). Accessible Hong Kong.   Retrieved 23 May, 2010, from
McKercher, B., Packer, T., Yau, M. K., & Lam, P. (2003). Travel agents as facilitators or inhibitors of travel: perceptions of people with disabilities. Tourism Management, 24(4), 465-474.
Miles, M. (1982). Why Asia Rejects Western Disability Advice. International Rehabilitation Review, 4th Quarter,
Miles, M. (2000). Disability on a Different Model: glimpses of an Asian heritage. Disability & Society, 15(4), 603-618.
Miles, M. (2001). ICIDH Meets Postmodernism, or Incredulity toward Meta-Terminology. Disability World E-Zine (March/April), 2001(7),
Packer, T. L., McKercher, B., & Yau, M. (2007). Understanding the complex interplay between tourism, disability and environmental contexts. Disability & Rehabilitation, 29(4), 281-292.
Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Yau, M. K.-s., McKercher, B., & Packer, T. L. (2004). Traveling with a disability: More than an Access Issue. Annals of Tourism Research, 31(4), 946-960.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Research from the non-English-speaking World: Airport accessibility in Brazil

I am regularly contacted by undergraduate and graduate students from around the world interested in accessible tourism and disability related issues. One of the reasons for creating this blog was to point people to the literature and research resources of common requests such as economic contribution, constraints and national patterns of participation. One such student was a Master of Science in transport engineering student from Rio de Janeiro, Rafael Teixeira de Castro who was interested in air transport accessibility. Rafael wanted some direction with the literature generally, social approaches to disability specifically and methodology as he was studying under a transport engineering faculty where these issues were outside the scope of his supervisors. I am happy to say that Rafael completed his dissertation and has provided an English language abstract that is provided below.

The difficulties faced by people with special needs in air transport are countless. Many authors have investigated this issue; however, only few researches were dedicated to observing, perceiving and listening to these individuals’ needs. The main purpose of this study is to analyze the accessibility of people with special needs in air transport as a factor for social inclusion. By interviews and interaction with people with special needs, “flowchart models” were developed with the objective to understand the real difficulties imposed by the terminals. The methodology used was a qualitative research based on questionnaires and interviews to people with mobility impairments in partnership with NGOs in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The findings point to the essentiality of airport planners, designers and managers hear the voice of these costumers in order to provide the service they wish to have which is guaranteed by the legislation. Listening to these people, learning about their differences and how to deal with them, is of great value for the development of accessible airport facilities (de Castro, 2010).

I am also conscious that a great deal of the research and literature on accessible tourism is only from the English-speaking world and I implore readers of this blog to encourage researchers from non-English-speaking countries to submit English language abstracts so that we can promote their research and get a better cross-cultural understanding of accessible tourism. Congratulations Rafael!

Readers can contact Rafael on

Photo 1: The researcher - Rafael Teixeira de Castro

de Castro, R. T. (2010). Accessibility of Tourists with Special Needs to Air Transport Master of Science Masters, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quality Accessible Tourism Experiences

While there has been a great deal of research that looks at the experiences of people with disabilities while they are travelling (see constraints blog post), there has been surprisingly little research on what makes for quality accessible tourism experiences. This is partly because there has been very little supply side interest in accessible tourism product development and, hence, a great deal of accessible tourism has not been to an equal level of that offered to the nondisabled. This is nowhere more evident than in the array of disability discrimination cases that have been brought against tourism providers and the discussion of the impact of antidiscrimination legislation on the sector (Armstrong, 2001; Darcy & Taylor, 2009; Goodall, 2006; Goodall, Pottinger, Dixon, & Russell, 2004; Griffin Donlon, 2000; Handley, 2001; Miller & Kirk, 2002; Shaw, Veitch, & Coles, 2005; Smith, 2006; Teutsch, 2008). One of the key aspects of legislation whether it be the US Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 or the Australian Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 or the UK Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 all have a core aim of providing people with disabilities with an equal treatment before the law and, hence, an equality of experience.

Photo 1: Proving the Concept - Sydney for All Web portal wins World Leisure Organisation 2010 Innovation Prize

The concept of an equality of experience before the law has generally fallen short with providers regarding “access” as literally stopping at getting through the front door. Yet, access to the physical premise or alternative information provision should be the starting point for developing truly accessible destination experiences. For example, wheelchair accessible rooms should provided throughout the different classes and amenities of rooms that nondisabled rooms are provided. If a person who is blind wants to take a guided tour of Europe by coach then their experience should be facilitated. The Deaf should not have to make “special” arrangements to get access to captioned video that is showing to all other tourists at a particular attraction. So far, these types of quality tourism experiences are unusual rather than the usual. In an industry obsessed with quality management evaluation that there has been very little consideration of quality accessible tourism experiences. Quality accessible tourism experiences were at the centre of a Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre project on Visitor Accessibility in Urban Centres (Darcy et al., 2008). The outcome of the project was the development of the Sydney for All Web portal that brought together good quality accessible tourism experiences across mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive dimensions of access. Business 21C undertook a short video to encapsulate the philosophy of the project and to examine what makes for quality accessible tourism experiences. The video can be viewed at the following website

Photo 2:  Author enjoying the streets of Sydney during Festival First Night – the festival organisers included disability access across all spheres of the festival organisation (© Fiona Darcy 2010)

Armstrong, D. (2001, May 9). Discrimination at airlines remains a problem for disabled travelers, Feature, The Wall Street Journal, p.? Retrieved from
Darcy, S., Cameron, B., Dwyer, L., Taylor, T., Wong, E., & Thomson, A. (2008). Visitor accessibility in urban centres (pp. 75).  Retrieved from
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