Sheila King of the Access For All Alliance tells us that the lack of accessible accommodation and tourism venues worldwide was quite clear at the November ’07 European Network For Accessible Tourism’s International Conference held in Valencia, Spain, where Sheila ran a workshop presenting the activities of www.australiaforall.com.au.
The Alliance was founded by two people with disabilities, both upset that although they lived in a seaside suburb they could not access the hard sand to the water.
At that time there were 32 accesses to the beach along the 16km esplanade, but none gave a person with a mobility aid – alone or with a child – access to the hard sand enabling them to put their feet in water.
A local newspaper photo of one of the pair’s scooter stuck in the soft sand became the trigger for many people with disabilities to tell of the problems they were having accessing buildings and parts of the natural environment in and around Hervey Bay.
The volunteer community group that developed became incorporated in November 2000 and they won an a special commendation at Melbourne’s ‘Communities In Control’ conference in June 2007.
16 overseas countries have already published accessible accommodation and tourism venues in the new section and the venue Sheila finds most interesting – because it shows that people with disabilities can take part in activities which most would feel were out of their reach – is in Cyprus.
Under Unique Venues C & A Activities there are pictures of people with disabilities doing para-sailing, scuba diving and being put on a hoist attached to a boat and put into the Mediterranean Sea to swim…just mind boggling, says Sheila.
The web site stats show the site has been visited by people from the USA, Australia, Barbados, UK, China, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Greece, Singapore, Lithuania, Norway, Mexico, Denmark, Italy and Belgium.
This new project has enabled tourism providers from all over the globe to show what extreme activities they are able to offer to people with disabilities.
I do encourage people with disabilities who wish to find accommodation suitable to their requirements to use this web site as their ‘first port of call’. It’s unique and has won awards for its ease of navigation and use.