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, 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.

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