Not so long ago even the shortest trip was a logistical nightmare for people with disability and their companions. There were few services and systems in place to make travel easy or even remotely possible for people with special requirements.
But now times are changing because travel and transport are being seen as an equaliser. People of different sectors should have equal access and opportunities when it comes to travel, employment, education and services. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 has been an important step for that equal access. It’s an amazing start so that people with disability can enjoy the same experiences most other people have.
What are the barriers in accessible tourism for people with disability?
Although there are now specialised services and legal systems in place to allow disabled people to travel with ease, there are still barriers on making that happen to more people.
For instance, many people still see travel as a logistical nightmare with lots of requirements and considerations. People from various sectors share the same experiences and sentiment when it comes to travel. It particularly gets more difficult for people with special requirements and their companions which makes it challenging to enjoy both the journey and destination.
It’s true that people with disability take holidays and vacations just like everyone else. However, they often face more obstacles along the way from booking a flight down to visiting their desired destinations. As mentioned earlier, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 is a just a start. It often takes more than a legal mandate to make things easier and more convenient to people with disability.
Apart from the general wave of social inclusion One huge factor in making things happen is financial incentive. For example, it’s estimated that people with disability inject $8 billion into the travel industry. This is expected to rise for the coming years because of the ageing population and if we also include people with temporary disabilities (due to injury and rehabilitation). Also, as with the general population, there are people with disability have the means (e.g. spending power) to travel even in places with challenging terrains and topography (e.g. Blue Mountains).
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
More things are changing for the better because of the NDIS (source: NDIS website). When it’s fully rolled out, the scheme will provide about 460,000 Australians aged under 65 (those who have permanent and significant disability) with funding for support and services. Included in those types of support are:
- daily personal activities
- transport to enable participation in community, social, economic and daily life activities
- workplace help to allow a participant to successfully get or keep employment in the open or supported labour market
- therapeutic supports including behaviour support
- help with household tasks to allow the participant to maintain their home environment
- help to a participant by skilled personnel in aids or equipment assessment, set up and training
- home modification design and construction
- mobility equipment, and
- vehicle modifications
This means people with disability will gain increased spending power which can be put into having amazing experiences (whether visiting natural features such as the Blue Mountains or man-made structures such as the Sydney Opera House).
Aside from having the means and opportunities to travel, people with disability can now lead more productive and creative lives. After all, making our own contribution gives our lives meaning. What we give often defines how we live. With the funding and support from the government (plus the willingness of the person and his/her companions), making sense of our place in the world becomes possible while also enjoying what life has to offer.
Act today and plan your trip
No matter what we think or do, time will pass anyway. That’s why it’s recommended to take significant actions that may somehow improve the quality of our lives. Also, there’s a good chance that you’ve been thinking of travelling for days or months now. You’re still looking for that insight or motivation to finally get things started.
You might still have your doubts and concerns. It’s true that there are still obstacles that make travel a little more difficult. Also, travelling with a disability requires some extra forward planning about:
- The accessibility of the airport and/or the aircraft
- Are electric wheelchairs allowed?
- Is airport transfer to a wheelchair-accessible vehicle easy and convenient (e.g. requires minimal physical activity)?
- Can the tour and itinerary be customised according to the special needs of the person?
- What about if you’re coming from a cruise ship?
Those are just some of the details you have to think about and plan on. It’s still challenging but it can be worth the effort if you’ve successfully visited the Blue Mountains, Sydney Opera House or the Bondi Beach.
To help you accomplish that, here at Australia in Style we enable accessible tours and transport (and make the entire process seamless from departure to arrival. This way disabled persons (whether with their carers, family or friends) can better focus on enjoying both the journey and destination.
Contact us today if you want to learn more about accessible tours. Our key focus here is barrier-free tourism by making each tour personalised and convenient for all of our clients.