Accessible tourism benefits everyone, it’s all about people and places. Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. As well as a social responsibility, there is a compelling business case for making Jersey’s tourism industry more accessible. Prioritise accessibility in your business with the toolkit and talk to other tourism businesses and attractions to share information, pool resources and identify opportunities for cross-promotion.
The toolkit is the first of its kind for the Jersey tourism industry and aims to:
- Raise awareness of accessibility
- Provide support for the representative industry partners to become more accessible and inclusive
- Pay attention to the particular needs of tourism businesses, i.e. accommodation, attractions, retail, events and hospitality
Jersey now has a Disability Strategy, and Disability Discrimination Legislation came into force on 01 September 2018. Requirements to make reasonable adjustments will not come into force until 01 September 2020. Businesses need not wait until the implementation of the law in 2020 to make the necessary implementations. The rest of this law is now in place. Jersey’s new Disability Strategy and Discrimination Legislation exist to prevent discrimination and to promote the equality and wellbeing of disabled people in Jersey, both locals and visitors alike. This includes being able to access public buildings and we hope that this industry toolkit will help local tourism businesses ‘gear up’ for these legal changes.
The toolkit concentrates on recommendations that can be accomplished at little, or no cost, and it’s often these smaller changes that have the biggest impact. Tourism businesses with improved accessibility appeal to a wider range of visitors. It’s not just disabled visitors who benefit, it’s families, older people, practically all your visitors in one way or another. The biggest gaps in the information provided by a lot of business properties is what ‘access’ really means. They say they are disabled friendly, but do they really know what this means? Access means different things to different people with disabilities. Some businesses can find disability changes a bit intimidating and are daunted by what they think they must do.
Our understanding of disability tends to leap to extremes, and whilst they are important and shouldn’t be ignored, it’s easy to stereotype. Only 8% of disabled people use a wheelchair, so it’s not always about door widths, ramps and lifts. Far more people are partially sighted than blind. Far more people have a hearing impairment than are deaf. There is a sizeable, growing and diverse range of travellers with accessibility needs and conditions range from requiring very high levels of support to ‘hidden disabilities’ that require support in less obvious ways. Aim to offer a full and inclusive experience for people with autism, their families and carers. People with autism can struggle with everyday life skills that most of us take for granted. Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects the way a person communicates with other people and relates to the world around them. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently. They often find the world around them overwhelming. People with autism may also experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. If you need advice please contact Autism Jersey, they also offer talks and training to staff to increase the understanding of autism at Autism Jersey.
All parts of the tourism industry have a role to play to increase access to Jersey’s tourism offer. You can use this toolkit to:
- Increase your knowledge about the market for accessible tourism
- Identify barriers, gaps and areas of improvement
- Develop strategies to incorporate access into your core business
- Improve and better target the marketing and promotion of your business
What the disabled traveller looks for when planning a trip
Travellers with a disability share many characteristics with the broader traveller population, they are just customers with specific accessibility requirements. Most are looking for a warm welcome and accurate information rather than a completely accessible physical environment. Many of the key tools they use in the travel decision making are the same. However, the need to be forearmed with knowledge on accessibility is heightened for disabled travellers. Internet search is the number one tool used by travellers with and without a disability when purchasing travel services, with wordof-mouth second. Reconnection and unwinding are core needs for most travellers, and this is just as true for travellers with a disability.
Although travellers with a disability do slightly fewer activities, many of the experiences they participate in matched those of the broader traveller population:
- Eating out
- Visits to the beach
- Nature and cultural experiences
Overall, they tended to stay in the same types of accommodation and visit the same destinations as the broader population.
Great for Business – beneficial for everybody
Why make your business more accessible? If you are accessible you will:
- Exceed visitor expectations
- Meet your obligations under the new Disability Discrimination Legislation and Regulations
- Support the promotion of equality and diversity in the island
- Grow your market.
Improving access to your tourism business will enable you to tap into a large and growing market.
- The UK is Jersey’s core market and one in five of the UK population is disabled
- It is estimated that by 2025 more than a third of the UK’s population will be over 55
- People are living longer and staying active until much later in life, so making your business more inclusive you are future proofing your livelihood
- Ageing population in both volume and longer life expectancy is expected to lead to greater domestic tourism market for accessible travel
- 29% of our holiday visitors are aged 65 or older, so will be most likely to benefit from facilities that support those with mobility or sensory needs
- Disabled people tend to stay longer and spend more than average.
Despite the similarities to the general population mentioned earlier, there were some important differences and specific needs. Travellers with disabilities have a strong tendency to manage the stresses and uncertainties of travel by returning to destinations they know well. Consequently, they appear to have a higher incidence of repeat visitation and are loyal customers.
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Jersey Disability Strategy
The Jersey Disability Strategy provides a single focus for change to improve the lives of islanders and visitors to Jersey. Combined with the introduction of Disability Discrimination Legislation, the strategy aims to become a powerful tool to promote equality, and work towards the elimination of discrimination. Visit Gov.je for full details.
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Not all disabilities are visible
Most people think of mobility issues when asked about disabilities, but not everyone has a disability that is physically noticeable e.g. asthma, diabetes, mental health conditions sensory impairments – there are many forms of disability that you need to consider when trying to make your business more accessible.
Why not start with a brainstorming session with your staff to examine the range of needs your organisation should be acknowledging and come up with some inexpensive ‘quick wins’ as a first step. For example, vibrating alarm clocks for people with a hearing impairment or a walking stick holder at the reception desk. Remember older people, parents with prams and others will benefit from improved access. You will be surprised who else will benefit from a flexible and proactive approach to access.
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What is preventing people from accessing your business?
There are common barriers which can make it difficult, impossible or less likely for people to use your business. Removing these barriers will improve access to your tourism business:
- Barriers to the physical environment such as steps, narrow or crowded spaces
- Barriers to information such as text that is difficult to read, information that is hard to understand or publications only available in limited formats. For example, brochures may use a small font. People with a hearing impairment won’t be able to follow video clips unless they have captions
- Barriers to communication such as a limited range of options for people to contact your business, or lack of awareness about how to communicate effectively with some customers. For example, only providing a phone number or relying exclusively on websites to promote your business
- Barriers as a result of negative or discriminatory attitudes, for example making assumptions about people’s abilities
How to get started
Train Your Team
We recommend your first task is to train your team members. Embracing technical solutions and practical matters are of course important, but we believe that care and consideration is the key. Help them to understand what it is like to be a guest who has an accessible requirement. It is important that all team members are knowledgeable in providing service for all guests with accessibility needs.
Tourism for All is an independent national charity acting as a voice for accessible tourism and travel in the UK. They offer free online training courses, customer service and awareness training, along with various practical guides for both businesses and travellers. Find out how to start making a difference today at site.tourismforall.org.uk.
Do An Audit
Walk around your premises and undertake a DIY audit of your business. By thinking ‘access’, you will notice many small barriers that can be easily removed. Break down information for different impairments i.e. hearing loss, wheelchair user, older and less mobile guests. Visit a range of existing accessible businesses to help educate yourself and your team.
Attracting Visitors In The First Instance
Every tourism venue – including places to stay, visit and eat should have an Accessibility Guide, regardless of the level of accessibility provided.
Consider the accessibility of your marketing information. Enhance and refresh your campaigns, or your website, by making simple changes that are easy-to-understand and include clear relevant information.
A few suggested ideas to consider when making these changes are to:
- Use large text 12 point is the minimum. Large print should be at least 14, but 16 is best
- Use clear typefaces such as Sans Serif typefaces e.g. Arial or Verdana
- Ensure contrast between text and background. Avoid using red text
- Avoid justifying text as large gaps can be confusing
- Don’t use italics or capitals for large blocks of text
- Use pictograms and symbols to help users navigate text
- Use positive images of people with a disability on your website, and all marketing material, it will ensure that your marketing material reflects your customer base. Images can have even more impact than written testimonials as they clearly illustrate your facilities in use.
- Video can also illustrate your access. Simple smart phone footage uploaded to YouTube can be embedded in your Accessibility Guide
- Use plain English and avoid long sentences
- Don’t make judgement calls as to whom your business is and is not suitable for
- Structure content in a logical order
- Targeted marketing – contact tour operators specialising in accessible and disability travel
- Online databases – having details of your tourism business included on online databases is a good way to increase the visibility of your business
In the first instance, if or indeed when you commission a new website or upgrade, make sure your designers are familiar with Website Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines. Don’t forget to include the following important basics:
- Clear email address, especially for those who have difficulty using a telephone
- Address and travel information
- Good quality images will show off your venue’s accessibility at is best
- Floor plans and measurements.
Disabled people tend to be big users of mobile communications, so try and make your website ‘mobile friendly’.
Pricing can be a key marketing tool for this group which often has the flexibility to travel out of season, or during school term time. Attractive incentives include a flexible cancellation policy, discounts for repeat and direct debit bookings, ability to book part of a week, discounted or free additional room for a carer, and later checkout times.
Market Your Accessibility
Include an honest access guide. Disabled travellers look at access guides before they book. Gathering information for your access guide will help you understand where there are gaps in provision and helps to engage your staff.
What is an access guide?
An access guide is a clear and honest description of the facilities and services you offer, which is available on your website and/or in hard copy. Remember it is not a judgement on your accessibility. 54% of people with access requirements avoid going to new places if they cannot find information about accessibility (Euan’s Guide Survey), so keep it accurate and factual. It is important that your statement exactly reflects the accessibility of your business to avoid misleading or disappointing customers. Look at examples from other businesses to get inspiration and guidance, but obviously every business will differ in detail and design. Remember you don’t have to assemble every detail all at once. Get started with the basics and add to it.
Describe Your Business
Describing your business to provide reliable, useful and detailed information on the accessibility of your business will assist people to make an informed decision about where to visit.
Following some basic principles is a good start:
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Provide clear photos of your business and its setting. For example, gallery or exhibition spaces if you are a visitor attraction
- Include specific measurements and floor plans where possible
- Tell visitors about any potential barriers such as steps or bedrooms on upper levels not accessible by lift
- Think of access in the broadest sense. Tell potential visitors if you can provide information in large print, or if your televisions can have subtitles enabled
- Demonstrate your commitment to excellent customer service. Remind people of anything extra you can provide, for example flexible check out times
- State that you welcome assistance dogs. What facilities are offered to assistance dogs, for example a run or toilet area and water bowls
Booking & Enquiry Process
A common complaint among disabled travellers, their friends and their families is that they have a strong desire to travel, but they can’t find accurate and reliable information in order to take action and make a booking.
Information, Advice & Knowledge
Travellers with a disability need more support in planning their experiences if they are to travel as much as they wish to, and for it to be an enjoyable experience, rather than a stressful one. ‘Not knowing what to expect’ can be a barrier to travel, highlighting the benefit of more detailed information being available for trip planning.
Overall, more detail in the information that is currently provided was the highest priority for travellers with a disability, particularly for those with limited mobility. While this primarily related to digital sources such as websites and review sites, it could also refer to information anywhere travellers look including in destination i.e. local tours.
The sort of information that disabled people look for is as follows:
- A comprehensive picture of the environment so that disabled travellers can feel safe in the knowledge that their specific needs will be met
- Information about what to see and do in the area, i.e. which local tourist attractions have wheelchair hire on site
- Accurate, reliable and up to date information on facilities. Measurements of door widths, for example, need to be exact
- Ensure your information is easy to find, available in various accessible formats, reliable, accurate and up to date
Staff customer service and product knowledge training is a key element to being prepared and professional when meeting the needs of disabled visitors.
Offer Various Booking Arrangements
Make your booking and enquiry process as easy as possible and provide as many different ways of booking as possible i.e. phone, online, email, third party websites.
Follow Up & Communicate
Once booked, your disabled customers will welcome further reassurance that any specific requests have been acknowledged and will be delivered.
Follow up communications could include:
- Directions and instructions on arrival
- Specific facilities or services you might provide
- Information about the surrounding area, upcoming events and nearby attractions and facilities
- Travelling with an Assistance Dog, provide information on green parks/beaches and spots close to your establishment
- Let them know if your staff have been trained to welcome and support customers with a disability or affected by Autism
Take the stress out of travel
Many disabled people need to plan travel well in advance, especially those with limited mobility, to ensure their needs are met and you can help your customers by providing useful information before arriving in Jersey.
Develop a dedicated section on your website providing links to all on-island travel companies and information on their accessibility. Or link through to our Accessible Jersey page on Jersey.com.
Using your local knowledge to take the stress out of your visitors travel plans is great customer service. So once booked, why not send a follow-up email with helpful information, view these helpful suggestions:
- Display your full address and prominent postcode for Sat Nav and online route planners
- Clear instructions of how to find you when travelling by car or taxi
- Distance and direction from both the airport and the harbour to your business
- Links to Liberty Bus websites and timetables with relevant access information
- Contact details of on-island taxi service that provide accessible vehicles
- Up to date information on Blue Badge parking near your facility, or details on your parking facilities
Provide the best possible service. The attitude and behaviour of your staff are critical to the visitor experience. We all know the saying ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’. It’s time to deliver on your promises.
Clear The Aisles
- Is there at least one wider parking space (at least 3200mm) on a firm and level surface, with good overhead height clearance (at least 2500mm), reserved for accessible parking identified with the international symbol for access (the blue wheelchair symbol)?
- Is your entrance clearly marked?
- Is there a clear and accessible path of travel from the car park to the front door, which is clear of bollards or uneven and loose surfaces (such as gravel)?
- If you have steps to the entrance, do you have hand rails to help those unsteady on their feet?
- Is your door bell and/or intercom at an accessible height for everyone (900mm – 1100mm). Provide a mobile number for people who can’t use the intercom
- Is the door easy to open? Ramps and automatic doors allow customers with mobility devices to enter easily
- Are the door mats flush with the floor surface?
- Can visitors call ahead for assistance and is someone always on hand to meet, greet and show around?
Obstacle Free Access
- Incorporate information on accessible facilities into basic information provided to all guests upon arrival
- Make sure your entrance and reception areas are clearly marked and well lit
- Provide a clipboard and large diameter pen for people checking in
- Provide seating close to the reception area/ticket office
- Consider fast-tracking for those who can’t stand for a period of time
- Be prepared to write down information for visitors with hearing impairments
- Be ready to complete forms on behalf of guests
- Provide accessible print materials, in addition to written text, large print formats or having Braille on signage, menus and business cards can help people who are blind or partially sighted
- Is there a hearing loop available for people who use hearing aids and is this clearly sign posted and always turned on? (Average cost £110 for a portable loop system for counters and desks)
- In accommodation where you can’t lower the reception desk/table, offer to check in guests in their car or bedroom for those who can’t use higher levels i.e. wheelchair users
- If your business provides table or bar seating, make sure you have accessible seating for wheelchair users
- Keep walkways and accessible parking access aisles clear and free from clutter
- Signage for permanent rooms, such as restrooms, should have Braille and raised lettering. The background and foreground must contrast
- If you do not have an accessible toilet make sure all staff know the location of the nearest accessible toilet, and if necessary, get approval for your customers to use it
- Doors that are heavy and hard to open can be very difficult to use for the elderly or people who use wheelchairs or mobility aids. Adjust closers so that the doors require less force to open
- In bathrooms, make sure waste baskets or other moveable objects do not obstruct clear spaces next to the doors
- Welcome Assistance Dogs into your establishment. Put up signs welcoming Assistance Dogs
- Consider how persons with disabilities will be evacuated from your facility in an emergency and include that procedure in your emergency evacuation plan. Make sure your employees know the procedure
- People with hearing, speech, or sight disabilities may require extra time or a quiet area to talk with staff
- Always ask first if a person with a disability needs assistance, never assume
- If possible provide a ‘Quiet Space’ or a ‘Sensory Room’ for visitors with Autism, in particular on arrival or departure, to help take the stress out of travel
Here are some important things to consider when assessing your buildings and facilities:
- Improving access to your buildings and facilities can have universal benefits. A step free entrance and automatic doors will benefit people with a disability, parents with prams, people with heavy bags and older people
- Improvements to your buildings and facilities are not always costly. Changing the layout of a room can create more circulation space for people who use wheelchairs
- Expert help is available to prioritise access improvements and to plan and budget for others over time
Improve Access In Eating Areas
- Read menus aloud or download them onto a MP3 or iPhone. Consider providing menus in large print (18 point)
- Provide adequate space to move in between areas
- Have the flexibility to move tables around
- Provide well-lit tables for those with visual impairment
- Have the ability to reserve particular tables
- Use table blocks to increase height of tables
- Provide a selection of seats with and without arms
- Contrast colours i.e. avoid using white crockery, white linen and clear glasses all together on a table setting
- Provide areas away from music or noise for hearing-impaired guests
Make Access Easy
Look at your rooms as a visitor does. Is there space to manoeuvre? Is it easy to draw curtains or to open a window? Can taps in bathrooms be easily turned on and off? Is it obvious which is the hot tap?
- Provide room information in different formats
- Consider flexibility of furniture when purchasing or updating. Zip and link beds offer more combinations for disabled people, partners or carers. Freestanding furniture also offers the flexibility and is easily removed or moved around to provide more circulation space in rooms
- Use contrasting colours for door frames, skirting boards and edges of steps
- When upgrading facilities i.e. a shower, the area needs to be on a level floor surface free of any step or sliding door track
- Place coloured towels within a white bathroom to provide a visual contrast
- Make additional equipment available such as phones with large buttons, vibrating alarm clocks, talking alarm clocks and portable hearing loops
- Have a magnifying glass/magnifying sheet handy and provide clear signage with large text and high contrast
- Do your research when replacing old fixtures and fittings and dated technology. For example, televisions which use closed captions or subtitles are a major draw card for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment
- Provide bowls of water for Assistance Dogs
- Make chair and floor throws available for service dogs to assist with housekeeping
- Provide quieter areas with no background noise for those with hearing impairments
- Have lever taps in bathrooms and kitchens
- Controls and switches are at an accessible height for everyone (900mm – 1100mm)
- Ensure all facilities are at table height i.e. water coolers, kettle, phones, remotes and computers
- Provide good signage throughout. Consider large print, contrasting and tactile signs and interpretation
- Make sure interpretation can be viewed by all i.e. children and wheelchair users
- Provide interpretation in different formats, i.e. British sign language (BSC) and braille
- Fast track those unable to stand in a queue
- Install seating, especially on steep inclines, long routes or near to children’s play areas so that parents or grandparents can supervise easily
- Create social narrative, a visual checklist and a sensory friendly map for visitors on the autism spectrum i.e. The Met Museum, London www.metmuseum.org
Time to go home
Leave a lasting impression
Hopefully all went well for your visitors, they had a great time and are sad to be leaving (but hopefully considering booking for next year!). But for those who find travel difficult, the stress might be building. Offer flexible arrangements for check out:
- If visitors want to leave early, can you offer a morning alarm call, flexible breakfast arrangements, pre-booked taxi?
- If later, can you consider a flexible check out time or offer a secure storage area for luggage?
When thanking visitors for their custom, ask for their feedback. This is the best opportunity to learn more about your visitors and their thoughts on how accessible your facility really is. Your visitors will have gone to lots of places and may pass on some useful tips picked up elsewhere:
- Review evaluation forms – do you ask what could have made their visit more enjoyable?
- Consider more creative or quick ways of asking for feedback i.e. TripAdvisor or disability specific travel advisory websites
- Encourage staff to ask customers about their visit and to write down and record feedback. Remember to keep copies and review the feedback you receive. Are people suggesting the same improvements?
- Make a record of any visitor preferences or specific requirements and ask to keep their details on record so that you can keep in touch
- Let visitors know about any changes you have made as a result of their feedback. Shout about it on social media – tell them!
Stay in touch
Your customer is back at home. If all has gone well they should be feeling content, happy and nostalgic as they reminisce to friends, colleagues and family.
From time to time, undertake more in-depth research with visitors to help inform future plans and test out new ideas. Research doesn’t have to be expensive.
When you undertake research consider:
- Including a range of people – families, older and disabled people. Approach local access groups and organisations run by disabled people
- Using a range of mechanisms to allow the widest range of people to participate i.e. email, telephone, face-to-face
- Review your complaints processes to check whether they are accessible i.e. do you provide a range of contact methods for complaints and is information about complaints available in large print?
- Regularly test any accessible equipment you’ve purchased and keep training topped up
Do one thing today
Develop an action plan of simple changes. Take one new idea from each stage of the journey each month and if you have other people working for you, involve them.
If you make an adjustment to your premises, menu, accessibility, bathrooms, ramps etc make sure to let your customers know on your website or marketing material with the use of pictures, text and video.
However, there is substantial opportunity to better utilise existing assets to meet the needs of those with mobility issues i.e. hotel rooms could have more categories beyond the standard ’fully accessible’.