There are a number of sources for ‘Access’ information, and we thought that some comparisons would be useful. We hope that these will stimulate discussion, increased understanding, and change.
It seems that the whole business of providing information for disabled travellers/visitors has shifted FROM research undertaken by disabled people TO that which is provided by facility operators, and often written-up by well-meaning able-bodied people. Some is provided by trained/qualified Access Auditors, but these do not necessarily have experience of ‘getting around when disabled’. Nor is their information and assessment integrated with other relevant information about where to stay and then how to get around.
The management of a facility will, of course, tend to say that they are “compliant” with whatever regulations are in place, which is a statement of limited value. It depends on what regulations, and on how detailed and practical they are. A great deal depends on staff attitudes (and training).
The information from Auditors, tends to be provided from tick boxes. The outcomes from this process normally provide no context beyond the building being reported on, and may be presented in the form of a directory, as with Inclusive London.
Information providers often do not understand what it is that the disabled traveller/visitor needs to know, nor (as with the Accommodation chapter example below), which places to include or to highlight.
In this shift to the provision of information by the facility managers, a great deal is being lost, unnecessarily, and in particular the whole DESCRIPTIVE approach – which allows the traveller/visitor to assess for themselves what is practical.
In London, for example, the situation is dire, and we present a series of comparisons:
- first between the Accommodation chapter in Open London and that in Access in London. Both were researched and published for the 2012 Olympics. The information provided under Visit England’s National Accessible Scheme about London accommodation is almost worthless;
- second between the Accessible Toilet information from Inclusive London and that from Access in London. We look at that for two important visitors destinations, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square; and,
- third between the information provided in the DisabledGo ‘Access guide’ and that provided in Access in London.
[THIS PAGE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION, DECEMBER 2014]
Take a look at two different approaches to providing information about accessible accommodation for the 2012 Olympics in London. The first file is from the ‘Official’ ‘inspirational guide to accessible London’, while the second is the text for/from Access in London. The third file includes the accommodation listed under the Visit England National Accessible Scheme.
Unfortunately, a proper comparison between the three texts will take a little time, but we believe that this is worth doing, in order to assess the Methodologies used, and the potential usefulness of the information provided.
The pdfs relate to information collected and presented at much the same time, and for the same purpose. The Official guide was published by the well known and established Time Out label and with the collaboration of Tourism for All. The Accommodation Aug 2012 text is part of the new edition of Access in London put together by Access Project (PHSP). It uses completely different criteria for selecting which hotels/hostels to describe, including their location as well as the accessibility of the facilities. The third pdf shows that the National Accessible Scheme provides a very poor basis for finding a hotel in London.
The Official Open London Time Out guide has 18 pages in the section on Accommodaton, and HALF of the space is taken up by pretty pictures which provide no access information at all. The chapter lists 23 4to5 star hotels, whose prices will be well outside the budget of many/most disabled travellers. There is 1 Youth Hostel, 2 caravan sites and 5 ‘chain’ hotels in the list. For some reason the excellent purpose-built Youth Hostel at Thameside with six adapted bedrooms with wet-room bathrooms attached, is omitted.
We suspect that the authors of the Time Out guide were not themselves disabled, and had never had the experience of making the arrangements for travel for disabled people. Thus there was no built-in experience or understanding of the practicalities involved. Regrettably no notice seemed to have been taken of the (several) previously published editions of Access in London dating from 1984 onwards.
The information used in the new 5th edition of Access in London is in the other file. We have covered/described and visited more than 80 hotels, of which only 5 are in the 4to5 star class. We have included 3 Youth Hostels (including the Thameside hostel referred to above), a Backpackers hostel (right in the centre and with excellent facilities) and 3 camp sites. We explain our rationale in the editorial. Our choice of accommodation was heavily influenced by its location relative to ‘accessible’ public transport. Not something which the author of the Official guide seemed much aware of.
Another practical aspect that the information gathered for the Official guide did not appreciate, is the need for choice by many disabled travellers who are with a carer or friend. They will want single beds in their hotel/hostel, rather than double beds. It is an issue that we have grappled with for more than 30 years, and was always a factor/requirement when we were travelling around, in both large and small groups. We were also looking for accommodation where there were several rooms with wheel-in showers in bedrooms, so it’s important to know how many adapted/accessible rooms a hotel/hostel has.
The NAS listing included three important ‘good value’ accessible places but regrettably provided incorrect information about them. When asked for information for an independent wheelchair user, the listing said ” You are searching for properties in London. Your search has been unsuccessful”. This would be very discouraging for an intending visitor, and is just plain wrong, as there are many possibilities.
Write-up comparisons with DisabledGo
The following pdf contains a comparison between the Access Project write-up and description about St Martin in the Fields, and the information provided by DisabledGo.
We leave you to make your own comparison.