Happy World Tourism Day
There’s no denying that technology and digital innovations have changed the way people find information and interact with the world.
It’s now easier to travel than ever before. Twenty years ago, there were no Instagram hashtags, Google Maps, online forums or hotel review sites. Avid travellers planned their trips by picking up a copy of Lonely Planet and relying on travel agents for many of their holiday bookings.
It’s no surprise that accessible travel wasn’t nearly as popular back then as it is today. Without information about the accessibility of hotels, transport and attractions being readily available, people with disability often had little real idea of what accessibility would be like when they arrived at their destination.
Today, a simple Google search will tell you where the accessible entrance is at the Eiffel Tower or how to book a wheelchair accessible spot on the Eurostar train.
Thanks to the rise of technology and the Internet, people with disability are finding it easier to travel than ever before.
“Tourism and the Digital Transformation” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day so we thought we’d look at three apps and websites making it easier for Australians with disability to travel.
1. Google Maps
Google Maps helps people explore the world by providing directions and maps to those travelling by car, bicycle or on foot. But in cities the best way to get around is often by public transport, which can be a challenge for people with disability. Information about which stations and routes are wheelchair accessible can be difficult to find. Earlier this year Google Maps introduced wheelchair accessible routes in transit navigation to make navigating cities easier for people with disability.
In addition to making public transport more accessible, people around the world have been adding accessibility information to Google Maps. Last year Local Guide gathered at 200 global meet-ups to answer accessibility questions — such as whether a place has a step-free entrance or an accessible bathroom — for over 12 million places.Another great feature is Street View, so people can view a place they’re visiting in advance to check what access is like ahead of time.
2. Accomable (now part of Airbnb)
Accomable was an accessible travel startup that helped people with disability find and book accessible holiday accommodation. Founded by Erin Madipalli and Martin Sibley, two childhood friends with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the company was purchased by Airbnb in 2017.
Now all of the great features you could search for through Accomable are available on Airbnb. You can search for accommodation with a wide range of accessible features, including step-free access, roll-in showers and mobile hoists.
3. Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free app that connects people who are blind or have low-vision with sighted volunteers. With the tap of a button, the app establishes a live video connection between a blind or low-vision user and a sighted volunteer. With over 1,000,000 volunteers, users can request assistance in more than 180 languages.
Volunteers help with a variety of tasks including reading restaurant menus, documents and elevator buttons.
As you can see technology has transformed the way people travel and has made it a lot easier for people with disability to explore the world!