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

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Access Classification Schemes and Accessible Tourism Information Provision

The previous post on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games has brought to the fore the vexed question of access classification systems and accessible tourism information provision. The 2010 Legacies Now organisation’s Accessible Tourism Strategy (2010 Legacies Now, 2010) document focuses on an accessibility icon rating accreditation system for businesses (2010 Legacies Now, 2010). While the approach for basic access to businesses (e.g. continuous pathway, communication provision, websites etc.) may be appropriate the relative advantages and disadvantages of icon rating systems for accessibility have been contentious and the reasons well examined in the literature (Eichhorn, Miller, Michopoulou, & Buhalis, 2008)

An area that has been most problematic is accessible accommodation provision. For example, the English Tourism Council (2000) put a great deal of resources into developing an accessible accommodation classification system but it has had limited uptake by industry and no evaluation of the system from consumers with disabilities’ perspective. In an Australian context, questions over accessible accommodation classification systems originally administered by the Automobile Association of Australia’s hotel and motel accommodation guide had been fraught with difficulties as evidenced by the number of Australian Human Rights Commission complaints cases (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2009; Darcy & Taylor, 2009). The accumulation of these complaints cases led to AAA Tourism (2006) withdrawing the icon classifications. AAA Tourism then commissioned an accessible accommodation information scheme (AAA Tourism, 2007) but to date this has not been implemented. As Darcy (2007) suggests a great deal of these complaints are due to the complexity of the building codes and Australian standards for access and mobility being simplified from literally thousands of measurements to an iconic representation. As Figure 1 shows, the AAA system of icon access classification was based on Wheelchair "independent access" and Wheelchair "access with assistance", which provided no detailed information about the rooms.

Figure 1: AAA & ACROD Disabled Rooms Access Icons (Graham, 2000; Queensland Tourism, 2000)

This has not stopped others from developing their own accessible accommodation classification systems (Australia for All, 2006). Alternatives to icons have been promoted by Europe for All (2007a, 2007b) and the European Commission (2004) where the detailed information for people with access needs are provided so they can make their own decision about whether the access provided meets their needs. This approach is also supported by the European Network for Accessible Tourism in their philosophy about accessible tourism information provision (European Network for Accessible Tourism, 2007). An Australian example of this type of system for the Deaf and hearing impaired community was completed in conjunction with an industry body (Deafness Forum & HMAA, 2005) and is based on five detailed criteria.

2010 Legacies Now. (2010). Accessible Tourism Strategy: accessibility rating icon guidelines business Available from
AAA Tourism. (2006). Withdrawal of accessibility rating icons.   Retrieved 8 August, 2006
AAA Tourism. (2007). Access Information Program.   Retrieved 17 Nov, 2007, from
Australia for All. (2006). Australia for All - One Stop Shop for Accessible Tourism in Australia. from
Australian Human Rights Commission. (2009). Disability Discrimination Act Complaints Cases Register and Decisions.   Retrieved 7 November, 2009, from
Darcy, S. (2007, 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., & Taylor, T. (2009). Disability citizenship: An Australian human rights analysis of the cultural industries. Leisure Studies, 28(4), 419-441.
Deafness Forum, & HMAA. (2005). Accommodation Industry Voluntary Code of Practice for the Provision of Facilities for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Retrieved 13 Feb, 2010, from
Eichhorn, V., Miller, G., Michopoulou, E., & Buhalis, D. (2008). Enabling access to tourism through information schemes? Annals of Tourism Research, 35(1), 189-210.
English Tourism Council. (2000). National Accessible Scheme: for a quality service you can trust - consultation document. London: English Tourism Council.
Europe for All. (2007a). Europe for All - Better information for discerning travellers.   Retrieved 1 January, 2008, from
Europe for All. (2007b). Tourism Providers reports on The Europe for all Self-Assessment Questionnaire: For owners/managers of Hotels and Self-Catering Establishments & The Europe for all Photo and Measurement Guide. (Vol. 2008, pp. Website). Available from
European Commission, & Westcott, J. (2004). Improving information on accessible tourism for disabled people. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, EUROPA.
European Network for Accessible Tourism. (2007). Working together to make Tourism Accessible for All in Europe.   Retrieved 1 January, 2008, from 
Graham, J. (2000). A Guide to Accessible Caravan Parks in Queensland. Brisbane: Tourism Queensland.
Queensland Tourism. (2000). Accessible Queensland Website  Retrieved 21 November, 2000, from 

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