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, May 14, 2011

Blind People's Tourism Experiences: An Exploratory Study from Israel

Adding to Richards, Prichard and Morgan's (2010) (re)envisioning of the tourist experience that provides a wonderful examination of tourism from a non-sighted perspective, comes an exploratory study by Poria, Reichel & Brandt (2011) from Israel. In a qualitative study, they sought to hear the "voice of the customer" (Pakdil & Aydin, 2007) through 15 in-depth interviews of blind people recruited from their personal contacts and organizations for people with disabilities. The environments and service context covered include air travel, hotels and restaurants, art museums and staff behaviour. The chapter highlights the challenges that people who are blind or vision impaired have maintaining independence and dignity in environments away from their home that they are not familiar with where simple enabling practices by tourism organisations could have created a more enabling experience. Photo 1 presents an image of a guide dog friendly environment where many people who are blind or vision impaired report that hospitality providers regularly refuse their entry because they are accompanied by their guide dog even though disability discrimination law in most countries recognises the service practice to be discriminatory (Darcy & Taylor, 2009). The introduction to the chapter is provided together with the full reference to the chapter.

Photo 1: Guide Dog Friendly Envoironment - Wendy David & guide dog relax at a resort in Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Wendy David)

Poria, Y., Reichel, A., & Brandt, Y. (2011). Chapter 9 - Blind People’s Tourism Experiences: An Exploratory Study. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 149-159). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

          The tourism literature is increasingly turning its attention to tourists with diverse physical disabilities (Chou & Chao, 2007; Eichhorn, 2007; Yates, 2007). However, there is a dearth of studies about disabled people's perceptions of the tourism experiences. Furthermore, most existing studies focus on wheelchair users, ignoring other segments of the disabled population such as blind or deaf people. This study, centering on blind people's perceptions of the tourism experiences, aimed at minimizing this gap.

This chapter is part of a series of studies documenting the tourism experiences of Israelis with diverse disabilities. The chapter addresses elements which play an important role in blind people's tourism experiences including flights, hotels, hotel restaurants and museums. 

Literature Review
Conceptualizing blindness and disability
          The current study adopts Nicolle and Peters's approach to disability (1999: 122) which asserts that being handicapped is a result of “a mismatch” between the individual's needs and abilities, and the environment. The importance of the link between the individual and the environment was used in the present study with regard to the term "disability." This approach considers the human environment affecting the process through which things are done.

This study is also in line with WHO (2007) ecological conceptualizations of disability and concurs with the social model of disability. The latter presents issues such as the social construction of disability as a state of marginalization and highlights social issues as potential barriers, rather than mere physical aspects of the environment (Shaw & Coles, 2004). This conceptualization was also adopted in recent studies on the tourism experience of people with disabilities (Daruwalla & Darcy, 2005; Yates, 2007).
The dearth of Research about blind people's tourism experience
          Existing studies have devoted little, if any, attention to the experiences of blind people. This lack of attention is surprising, first, because of the considerable size of the blind population. Second, blind people often travel accompanied by others. Third, during group travels, the presence of blind people may affect the travel patterns and itineraries of their fellow travelers. Fourth, legislation requiring organizations and companies to offer accessibility to all members of society, particularly to people with disabilities should also be taken into account. Such accessibility legislation is also reflected in rules (e.g., the ADA and the DDA) relevant to the tourism experience of disabled people. In addition, prevailing western social norms recognize travel as a social right of all members of society (Hazel, 2005; Yates, 2007). Finally, travel's contribution to the quality of life of people with disabilities and their well being is well recognized (Kinney & Kinney, 1992; Yau et al., 2004). Therefore, both researchers and practitioners need to investigate blind people's tourism experience in terms of theory and practice.
This chapter focuses on blind people experiences of flights, hotels, and art museums. With regard to the flight experience, there are virtually no empirical studies focusing on blind people. A limited number of studies contain some implicit reference to this topic, while focusing on wheelchair users (Takeda & Card, 2002; Turco, et al., 1988; Yates, 2007). Abeyratne (1995), for example, focuses on the flight and airport experience, referring to issues such as accessibility to the aircraft and flight safety.
With respect to museums, hotels and their restaurants, to the best of our knowledge, no studies exist which refer to the blind. Perhaps, the assumption is that if you cannot see, there is no point being involved in tourist activities. Traditional understandings equating travel with a visual experience may further explain the limited scholarly interest in blind people's tourism experiences (Small, 2008). The

A full copy of the chapter can be obtained from
Poria, Y., Reichel, A., & Brandt, Y. (2011). Chapter 9 - Blind People’s Tourism Experiences: An Exploratory Study. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 149-159). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

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Poria, Y., A. Reichel. and Brandt, Y. (2009a) People with disabilities visit art museums: An exploratory study of obstacles and difficulties. Journal of Heritage Tourism, In print.
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  1. I have read this blog carefully and got it very interesting. I like the story of tour of blind people.

    Pousadas em buzios

  2. Thank you very much for your comment

  3. Hello Sir Simon Darcy! I'm a student here in the University of the Philippines in Diliman and currently, we are conducting a thesis regarding the VIs experience in educational tours/leisure tours and we are using your studies primarily in our research. May we just ask if we can get more from you to help us further in our study? Thank you very much!


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