Globally there are over 600 million people with disabilities, equating to about 10% of humanity. Approximately 20% of the Australian population, or four million people, identify as having a disability. Of these people 520,000 have a mobility disability, 480,000 are blind or vision impaired, and 1 million are deaf or hearing impaired (ABS, 2003). Read more
Globally there are over 600 million people with disabilities, equating to about 10% of humanity. Approximately 20% of the Australian population, or four million people, identify as having a disability. Of these people 520,000 have a mobility disability, 480,000 are blind or vision impaired, and 1 million are deaf or hearing impaired (see ABS Cat No. 4430.0). Worldwide, the numbers of people with disabilities are set to increase due to the ageing of the population. By 2020 there will be 1.2 billion people over 60 years of age. In Australia, the ‘greying’ of the population has been well documented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and identified by Tourism Research Australia as a market opportunity (see Mature-Aged Travellers in Australia: Snapshot). This phenomenon will affect all of our major inbound markets.
Recent research completed by the STCRC on access issues for visitors in the tourism sector indicates that:
The relationship between disability and ageing is clearly evident and both present a challenge for the tourism industry;
Some 88% of people with a disability take a holiday each year, accounting for over 8.2 million overnight trips
Current research suggests that developing inclusive industry practices to people with disabilities and seniors requires a knowledge of four concepts:
types or dimensions of disability
(refers to the range of disabilities that are catered for in a particular location or circumstance)
– mobility, hearing, vision, cognitive and other dimensions;
levels of support needs – whether a person can interact independently or whether they have low, medium, high or very high support needs;
access enablers – personal aides, communication and assistive technologies used by individuals to maximise participation; and
universal design – where environments are designed to universally include people of all ages, genders, sizes and abilities.
As shown in Figure 1 (below), these four interdependent and overlapping concepts form the basis of a comprehensive understanding of how to accommodate visitors to protected areas and in outdoor recreation activities and indeed apply to all forms of tourism. There is a complex interplay between the individual and the environment. At one or more of these interfaces, people can become marginalised through a series of structural constraints that may require a management response to provide universal solutions.
Source: Small, J., & Darcy, S. (2010). Tourism, Disability and Mobility. In S. Cole & N. Morgan (Eds.), Tourism and Inequality: Problems and Prospects (pp. 11-31). Wallingford: CABI
Other Australian research on universal access to outdoor settings in an urban environment suggests that (based on a case study of major tourist destinations in Sydney, Australia):
Most of the main experiences (popular accessible destination experiences) are only suitable for one dimension of disability access with some being appropriate for two and a small number of experiences being appropriate for all dimensions of access;
Most visitors seek information before they travel to a major city or before they visit an attraction. The internet is identified as a growing source of information;
Information availability, detail and accuracy can be a significant constraint to travel. It is the way in which information is conveyed, which can present a constraint, and
Website accessibility is critical to inclusive organisational practice. For example, font sizes, font colours, contrast, page backgrounds and page design can all present a barrier to people with a vision impairment.
An important component of designing pedestrian access in protected areas involves meeting the Australian standards for Walking Track Classification (AS2156). Class 1 walking trails are wheelchair accessible and conform to Australian Standard AS1428 (design for access and mobility series, provides design requirements for buildings encompassing the specific needs of people with disabilities).
Various guides and manuals for the development of universal access facilities and services in outdoor settings are available.