Dublin Airport Wins European Accessibility Award


Image above: Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison accepting the Accessible Airport Award from Yannis Yallouros, European Disability Forum's Executive Committee.

 

Dublin Named Best Airport in Europe for Accessibility at ACI EUROPE Awards

Dublin Airport has won a major European award for the way in which it deals with disabled passengers and those travelling with reduced mobility.

Dublin Airport won the inaugural Accessible Airport Award at ACI EUROPE’s Best Airport Awards in Athens last night. Separately Dublin Airport was also short-listed in the best large airport category, which was won by Heathrow Airport.

“We are absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award for accessibility ahead of all our European peers,” said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison. “This award recognises the significant efforts that the Dublin Airport team makes on a daily basis to ensure that disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility have the best possible airport experience. Winning this prize is a major endorsement for what we have achieved in this area to date and will encourage us to continue to improve the service that we offer to our disabled customers and to travellers with reduced mobility.”

The judges for the award found that Dublin Airport “excels in accessibility features and facilities, including adult changing places, two separate relief areas for guide dogs, fully accessible retail and catering areas” and had service level agreements for assistance provision that exceed the European standards. The judges also cited Dublin Airport’s website accessibility, which meets the required accessibility standards for persons with disabilities.

“This is Dublin Airport’s second major customer-related award in just four months, which underscores our focus on ensuring that all our passengers have the best possible experience when they use the airport,” Mr Harrison said. Earlier this year Dublin Airport was rated number one for passenger experience ahead all other European airports of a similar size in the 2015 ACI Airport Service Quality survey.

 “As passenger numbers increase, we intend to continue to enhance the passenger experience for all customers. We are currently investing €10 million to upgrade the arrivals area in Terminal 1 and we also have recently installed new automatic tray return systems at passenger screening to help make this process more efficient.”

The Accessible Airport Award was introduced by ACI Europe this year to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 which relates to the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.

ACI EUROPE partnered with the European Disability Forum (EDF) to present the new award. As well as rewarding the best airport in Europe for accessibility the award was also designed to encourage other European airports to continue their work on removing the barriers that people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility still face when travelling by air.

The judging panel for the Accessible Airport Award comprised members of the European Disability Forum’s Executive Committee as well as Fotis Karamitsos, Acting Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport; Coordination of Directorates C and D, in the European Commission.

The Accessible Airport Award was presented to Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison at a gala dinner in Athens last night by Yannis Yallouros, who is a member of the European Disability Forum’s Executive Committee.

Dublin Airport is Ireland’s key international gateway, accounting for 82% of all air passengers into and out of the State. Last year Dublin Airport celebrated its 75th birthday by setting a new a new all-time record for traffic, as it welcomed more than 25 million passengers.  So far this year, passenger numbers are up 14% to almost 10.3 million. Dublin Airport has direct flights to over 180 destinations in 40 countries on four continents, and will welcome 16 new services this year.

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SWISS website now accessible to all


Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) makes its air travel services as available to its customers as it possibly can. This policy applies to all its online facilities, too: the core functions of the swiss.com website have now been made fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users or customers with other physical disabilities. SWISS has thus extended the accessibility of its services at the airport and inflight to its online platform, too.

The core functions of the swiss.com website have been comprehensively overhauled to make them accessible to all. As a result, blind and visually impaired users and those with other physical disabilities can now easily book, rebook or check in for their flights online. The blind and visually impaired, for instance, can use screen reader software to have text read aloud to them, and can navigate the site more easily via their keyboard entries.

The fully accessible part of the swiss.com website already meets the AA standard of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. And the entire site should meet this standard by the end of 2016.

The revised swiss.com website further expands SWISS’s range of services for customers with restricted mobility. On the ground, specially trained staff continue to be available to provide these travellers with the additional care they need. SWISS offers escorts for both departing and arriving travellers, along with the free use at the airport of wheelchairs and transport vehicles.

Travellers with restricted mobility are also invited to board and deplane before other passengers; and up to two wheelchairs and an assistance dog will be transported free of charge. SWISS also provides a wheelchair on board on all its long-haul flights and (on request) for its short-haul services, too. And SWISS cabin personnel are sensitized to the special needs of travellers with restricted mobility, to ensure that they are offered optimum care and assistance throughout their time aboard.

For further details of SWISS’s special services for travellers with restricted mobility please visit.

 

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Virgin Trains unveils tactile station maps for visually impaired travellers


Blind and partially sighted train travellers can now navigate their way around ten railway stations across England thanks to the arrival of new tactile maps which can be read by touch or sight.

The RNIB Maps for All will be installed at eleven stations across the east coat route. Ten stations already have them on-site: Berwick, Peterborough, Retford, Newark Northgate, Grantham, Darlington, Wakefield Westgate, Doncaster and Durham. Newcastle will follow shortly.

Virgin Trains has worked closely with leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to create RNIB Maps for all eleven stations that it manages on the east coast route – spanning Berwick to Peterborough.*

The maps provide key information such as the location of platforms, toilets, shops and cafes by using a mix of raised large print, Braille and tactile symbols. They are located close to the station entrances to help travellers with sight loss prepare for their journey more easily.

Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and it is predicted that this number will nearly double by 2050. According to RNIB’s recent My Voice research, one quarter of blind and partially sighted people said they were not able to travel by train as much as they would like. Tactile maps are a way of addressing this issue sensitively and practically.

Kawal Gucukoglu, RNIB Transcription Executive, is registered blind herself and was on hand this week to test out the Peterborough map. She said:

“I like the fact it’s a map for everyone – there’s not a separate one for people with and without sight loss. It’s very clear to use with good Braille and print lettering.  Tactile maps are a great idea and will come in useful for loads of travellers.“

Neil Heslop, Managing Director, RNIB Solutions, added:

“We’re pleased to have worked with Virgin Trains in finding an effective solution to make the stations they manage more accessible for people living with sight loss. We will continue to work with industry to look at other ways in which people living with sight loss can travel with greater confidence and independence.”

Debbie Ambler, Virgin Trains Programme Delivery Manager, said: 

“We are committed to working with partners like RNIB to find new ways to make journeys more accessible and enjoyable for all our customers. The tactile maps at stations across our network allow blind and partially sighted customers freedom and independence when travelling. Both at stations and on board our trains, we encourage our people to go the extra mile to offer brilliant service to all our customers. We also have a dedicated team that disabled customers and their friends and family can contact in advance to plan for their journey.”

Customers with disabilities are also encouraged to contact the Virgin Trains Assisted Travel team. They can help with planning journeys, buying tickets, reserving seats and wheelchair space, help at stations, changing trains and on reaching destinations. 

Customers with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult may qualify for discounted travel – ask the Virgin Trains Assisted Travel Team for details.

Email: assisted.travel@virgintrainseastcoast.com

Telephone: 03457 225 225 (select option 3 then option 4)

Text Relay: 18001 03457 225 225

 

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Arthurs Seat Skylift Takes Shape


The construction of the Iconic Arthurs Seat Skylift moves a step closer today with the erection of the gondola's support pylons.

The pylons were skillfully flown into place by a heavy lift helicopter overseen by the Australian lift company Doppelmayr.

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Skylift will set new standards in Accessible Tourism

The new Skylift will consist of fully enclosed 8 seat Goldolas making it an all weather attraction and for the first time allowing people of all abilities to take in the spectacular views over Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula from Arthurs Seat. 

It will help revitalise Arthurs Seat State Park by creating an internationally recognised attraction, and contribute to the Mornington Peninsula’s economy through tourism and employment.

The upper and lower station buildings will each feature a loading area, mezzanine level, café/kiosk, information centre, toilets and office space.

 
Accessibility Features
  • Slow moving Gondolas in the stations allowing level access for wheelchairs, prams and strollers
  • Improved car parking overall and level accessible parking
  • Ramped access throughout
  • Accessible observations decks
  • Accessible toilets and a Changing Places facility

 

The $16 million project will not only be a major tourism asset for the state of Victoria but it will be a world class Accessible Facility to cater for the rapidly growing Accessible Tourism market.

The Skylift chief, Hans Brugman said today:

Making it completely accessible has increased the cost of this project significantly but it was important to do it.

TravAbility's Founder, Bill Forrester said:

As a major iconic tourist attraction for both the Mornington Peninsula and the City of Melbourne, it is important that such a development be fully inclusive to everyone.

The Arthur Seat Skylift project has taken the time and effort to understand the needs of the disabled traveller. By changing their approach away from a compliance to customer focus, the developers have gone far and above their obligations under the building codes. They have fully embraced the spirit of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially Article 30, and in doing so have created a truly world class accessible concept.

The Arthur Seat Skylift has the potential to create a significant competitive advantage for the Mornington Peninsula and the City of Melbourne in attracting the Accessible Tourism market, as well as enhancing the city’s reputation as being the “Most Livable City” for all.

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Gondola - Artists Impression

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Upper Station - Artists Impression

 

The next major milestone will be the arrival of the Gondolas from Switzerland.

The Skylift is expected to be operational before the end of the year.

 

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NSW takes the lead in Accessible Tourism with a major Ministerial Forum


Minister for Disability Services and Ageing John Ajaka today welcomed people with disability and representatives from government, business, academia and the non-government organisations to a forum focused on making tourism more accessible in NSW.

In doing so NSW is recognising the key importance Accessible Tourism will have on the industry in the coming years. It is already a major market segment but with an ageing and retiring population it will become a critical element of any tourism strategy and a major source of competitive advantage.

We were delighted to be one of more than 55 representatives who attended the Ministerial Forum on Accessible Tourism at NSW Parliament House, including representatives from Lonely Planet, Zomato, the NSW Business Chamber and New Earth Tourism.“Everyone, regardless of their age or disability, should be able to enjoy everything NSW has to offer,” Mr Ajaka said.

“However, if we are going to make our community truly inclusive, we need to identify and remove existing barriers to make our world-class holiday destinations and tourist attractions more accessible.”

“Accessible tourism is a large and growing opportunity for the tourism and hospitality sector. By finding new ways to make travel and tourism more accessible we will deliver a boost to the sector and generate more jobs,” Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said.

In 2010, accessible tourism was worth $8 billion and represented 11% of the tourism market in NSW.

The Ministerial Forum is aimed at developing three to five practical ideas to improve access to tourism services, improve information about local facilities like accessible toilets and accommodation, and increase participation of older people, people with disability and their carers in tourist and recreation activities.

To further support accessible tourism, the NSW Government has commissioned the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Public Policy and Governance to identify innovative and practical ideas that will enhance accessible tourism in NSW.

The ideas and insights generated from the Ministerial Forum will help inform the development of a future NSW Accessible Tourism Plan for NSW.

Enhancing accessible tourism in NSW aligns with the objects of the Disability Inclusion Act 2014, the Disability Inclusion Plan and the NSW Ageing Strategy.

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The Opening of the First Accessible Wharf for Gondolas


Venice, March 2016 the opening of the first accessible wharf for gondolas in Venice, in front of Piazzale Roma, Fondamenta Cossetti. 

This project created by the non- profit organization Gondolas4ALL, represents the first landing place able to allow people with different kinds of disabilities to get on and off a gondola. 

Enrico Greifenberg and Alessandro Dalla Pietà, the two founders of this association, have been dreaming of this project for more than 20 years. In 2012, they decided to apply themselves to the realization of a permanent structure, in order to allow anybody to enjoy an exciting gondola tour. 

The Tourism Department of Veneto Region decided to support their project into the Project of Excellence in Tourism “ Development of Social and Accessible Tourism”. 

After being guest at the stand of Veneto Region at the event Gitando.all in 2014 and at MOVE in 2015, Gondolas4ALL, as the only and exclusive subject of this initiative, has received funding aimed to cover in part the realization costs. 

Fabio and Nicola Domeneghini of Fadiel Italiana & SMDM, Roberto DeCarli of Rein, Lucart Group, Pierluigi Moro and Silvia Dabrilli of Studio Moro Architetti, supporters of this project since the beginning, have completed the work.

 Marco Maggia, owner of Ermitage Bel Air Medical Hotel and the city of Abano Terme supported the project with a contribution.

In 2015, Honorable Domenico Rossi Secretary of State to the Defense, invited Gondolas4all to Rome giving them the support of the Ministry of Defense. 

In September 2015 in Madrid, invited by Fundacion Once, they presented Gondolas4ALL at the 5th International Congress “Technology and Tourism For All”. 

In the same period, Gondolas4ALL filmed in Venice “Smart Aarhus in Documentary on Sustainable Cities”, a documentary about the best practices in 24 European Cities, selected by Kryzistof Baczynski Europe commission Architecture,Urban Plannig Engineering. 

The new service will begin in about a month after the training of new professionals and final tests .

The project is seeking public support to raise about 80,000 ( eighty thousand ) Euros . 

You can support Gondolas4all through the following link http://www.gondolas4all.com/sostienici/

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VisitEngland launches Access for All campaign


VisitEngland, the national tourist board, is today launching a new Access for All campaign, aimed to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, informing disabled people of accommodation and visitor attractions when planning a day trip or holiday.

Following a successful pilot project in 2013/14 with four destinations; VisitEngland accessed funding from the European Commission to expand the Access for All initiative, with a grant of €125,000. For the past year VisitEngland has been working with seven local destination partners across the country to create a series of access guides covering coastal, countryside and city destinations. These are:

  • Visit Kent
  • Marketing Birmingham
  • Visit Lincoln
  • Northumberland Tourism
  • Visit Peak District and Derbyshire
  • Experience Nottinghamshire
  • Visit Brighton

56 businesses are involved in the project including a mix of accommodation and attractions such as Lincoln Cathedral, Brighton & Hove Buses, Chatsworth House, Turner Contemporary, Hotel La Tour, Vindolanda Roman Fort and Nottingham Belfry amongst many others. The businesses involved have worked hard to make changes – focusing on positive action – to improve perceptions of Accessible England.

VisitEngland research highlights that the overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3billion to the English economy, with day visits bringing the figure up to £12.1 billion. Over the past few years overnight trips by disabled travellers and their companions have increased by 19 per cent with spend up by 33 per cent. 

The Purple Pound presents tourism businesses and destinations with a huge opportunity for economic growth. New figures from VisitEngland confirm an approximate value of overnight accessible tourism to the destinations involved:

  • Kent: £60m
  • Birmingham: £50m
  • Lincoln: £9m
  • Northumberland: £65m
  • Derbyshire: £45m
  • Nottinghamshire: £30m
  • Brighton and Hove: £14m

Some of the great initiatives include those introduced by Brighton & Hove Buses (part of the Go-Ahead group) which provides wheelchair access to 100 per cent of their fleet. They are trialling the use of hearing loop systems on a bus; have a Helping Hand yellow card scheme; offer a wheelchair taxi guarantee if someone cannot get onto the bus and have many innovations to help disabled visitors use their buses.

VisitEngland Chief Executive, James Berresford, said: 

"The accessible tourism market is worth a sizable £12.1 billion to the English economy and many tourism businesses are realising that catering for disabled customers is not only a necessity but a wise investment that brings a host of business benefits. Many of the changes businesses make may be small, but combined contribute significantly to the visitor experience." 

 

The Access for All project has consisted of two phases: product development, where businesses receive direct support to improve their accessibility with the help of access advisors, and a national consumer marketing campaign launching today. The tourism businesses are being directly supported as part of the project to improve their accessibility. Accommodation and attractions have been audited by a professional access advisor and many have received a mystery visit from guests with accessibility requirements. A training course was held in each destination for accessibility champions and customer-facing staff have completed online disability awareness training. Businesses also received personal feedback on their Access Statement, improving information detailing their accessibility.

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