Research Shows Limited Accessibility for Disabled Travellers in UK

Following London hosting the 2012 Paralympic Games for the differently able, new research shows that public places in the UK still have a long way to go in being fully accessible for people with limited mobility.

Tourism for All, a UK based non-profit for people with limited mobility, and Adapted Vehicle Hire, a car hire company for people with special accessibility requirements, recently conducted a survey of disabled travellers. The research has pointed out that around 9 out of 10 respondents feel restricted from travelling due to unavailability of accessible options.

Although 92% of the people surveyed reported that accessibility has improved in the country in the last decade, around 86% of them said that information regarding accessibility to tourist places remains insufficient.

Carrie-Ann Lightley, the spokesperson from Tourism For All, said, ‘We are heartened that most people feel that access and facilities have improved in the past ten years, but the survey also revealed there are big variations across the UK.

Access to some rural and historic sites will always present more of a challenge for disabled visitors, but places like airports have scope for significant improvement to better meet the needs of disabled travellers.’

While London has been marked as the most accessible destination in the UK, the British airports, Underground, and train stations have been ranked poorly in terms of accessibility.

Lorraine Farnon, the managing director of Adapted Vehicle Hire, said, ‘The results of this survey clearly demonstrate that despite gradual progress, more needs to be done to make the travel industry more accessible for disabled people.

Following the outstanding success of the Paralympics which has brought disability issues increasingly into the mainstream, there is now an opportunity to make real improvements to access and facilities across the UK.’

Airports in UK Offer Varying Services to People with Access Needs

Airports in the UK may not be equally accessible to people with access needs, even as the country is hosting the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The flight search site, CheapFlightsFinder.com, has reported that as the 2012 Paralympics closes, visitors and participants will be facing different levels of service at different airports in the UK, in terms of accessibility.

Shahab Siddiqui, the founder of CheapFlightsFinder, said, ‘I always feel very excited when I arrive in a new city by plane, but I also feel anxious about how easy it will be to navigate the airport when I arrive. Some airports have highly trained staff and extensive wheelchair access, while others are still extremely primitive in their offering, which makes the experience very challenging.

There are a huge number of factors that disabled people need to consider when entering an airport, whether for a short haul jaunt or if they are undertaking multi-city flights. This includes travelling from the car park, using toilets in the airport, registering at the check-in desk and carrying your baggage. The provision can vary depending on the regulations of that country regarding the accessibility of public buildings and therefore the experience in one country can be very different from another. If you have a choice of airports, it is always worth researching thoroughly which is the most accessible, as it can greatly influence your entire holiday experience.’

An airport association, ACI Europe, holds its annual Best Airport Awards, which also includes criteria for the accessibility of airports for differently able passengers. In 2012, London City Airport has been judged the best airport in the one to five million-passenger category, and Edinburgh Airport has been awarded the best in the five to 10 million-passenger category.

Beach Wheelchairs now offered at holiday resorts

Virgin Holidays is delighted to announce a new complimentary service for their customers – beach wheelchairs. Available in selected hotels in Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia, these specially designed chairs allow customers who have walking difficulties or are wheelchair user’s, easy access onto the beach and into the ocean. These tricked-out chairs come complete with extra chunky beach-friendly wheels, sunshades and storage for beach essentials.

 

Virgin Holidays employee Nicola Davis, herself a wheelchair user, came up with the idea after visiting the Caribbean on holiday. “I have used beach wheelchairs in Florida for many years and then I travelled to the Caribbean and found out that none of the hotels offered them. I really missed being able to spend time on the beach with my children and realised that many people were missing out on one of the most important parts of a Caribbean holiday.” The chairs were developed in partnership with Aqua Creek Products and have been getting rave reviews from the first customers that have used them, giving a liberating freedom to move around the beautiful Caribbean beaches with ease.

 

The beach wheelchairs are available to Virgin Holidays guests at the Almond Beach Village, Almond Casuarina and Almond Beach Club in Barbados, St Lucian by Rex, St Lucia and the Jolly Beach in Antigua, and are pre-bookable through the Virgin Holidays Special Assistance Team.

 

Virgin Holidays award winning Special Assistance team offers a dedicated service for disabled and limited mobility customers. Brochures highlight accommodation which is best suited for wheelchair access and those with reduced mobility can book accessible transfers, adapted vehicle hire and medical equipment hire. The team also provides theme park and excursions accessibility information to help customers plan ahead.

 

Call us on 0844 557 3998 or email special.assistance@virginholidays.com to find out more.