Travelling and exploring different places around the world is a source of joy and excitement for many people. Travel presents opportunities to broaden your horizons, meet new and interesting people, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
However, for people with disabilities, travel can be more of a challenge. Contrary to the common misconception, this has nothing to do with disabled people not wanting or not being able to travel. The biggest barrier to travel for people with disabilities is a lack of understanding of their needs, and a shortfall in accessible accommodation and transport. Blogger Cory Lee explained to us,
“There’s the belief that wheelchair users just stay at home and don’t have the money to travel, but that’s far from the truth. We lead extraordinary lives and want to travel, just like anyone else. We just need destinations to be a bit more accommodating to make that a reality. When destinations do focus on accessibility, we’ll be thrilled to visit and spend our money there.”
Indeed, 72% of airline passengers with disabilities have experienced physical obstacles or miscommunication with airlines, whilst 8 in 10 disabled people in the UK said that they had faced barriers staying in UK hotels and resorts. As many as 7 in 10 have struggled to find accessible rooms in the UK. In many cases, it seems more likely than not that people with disabilities will have difficulties finding truly accessible travel opportunities.
Accessible Travel For All
Naturally, accessibility doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone with a disability. When we think about accessibility we might think about the provision of ramps, step-free access and lifts. Whilst these measures are absolutely essential, other facilities need to be put in place too. This is because 80% of disabled visitors to Britain do not require ramps or assistance in moving around and only 8% of people with disabilities use a wheelchair.
Many others have a vast range of invisible and visible disabilities, which require different adjustments. Beyond mobility problems, there’s a vast spectrum of invisible and visible disabilities, meaning a broader range of adjustments are required. For instance, a person with a visual impairment might find Braille or raised letterings on signs helpful, whilst a person who uses a hearing aid would likely find a hearing induction loop more useful.
Often, it’s simply a matter of providing information about the facilities available – for instance, by making it clear in advertising and marketing materials what accessible amenities are available at hotels, on public transport and tourist attractions. Transparent and open communication makes arranging travel far easier for people with disabilities.
To help you learn more about this issue, UKS Mobility have designed this infographic showing the main statistics around accessible travel, with a closer look at the barriers people with disabilities face. We’ve also taken a look at three popular tourist destinations – London, Barcelona, and New York – to see how their accessible travel facilities measure up.