Accessibility in Tourism: how ICT are helping disabled people to travel?

The European Commission - DG Justice and DG Enterprise and Industry - celebrated on 3 and 4 December 2013, the "European Day of Persons with Disabilities" and the "European Tourism Day" 2013 with the joint Conference on "Accessible Tourism in Europe". DANTE, though, Euromontana, attended this conference.

This event aimed to raise awareness on the right of everybody to have equal access to tourism services and destinations and to present some success stories and best practices in the field. In particular, several ICT solutions were presented as a key toolbox to encourage tourism for disabled people.

A website and a mobile app to find concrete info to facilitate the travel of disabled people.

Damien Birambeau, president of the association “J’accède” presented his website: http://www.jaccede.com/fr/ and mobile application. The key element to encourage tourism for disabled people is allowing them to have access to information in order to well prepare their travel. Jaccede.com is gathering practical information on restaurants, bars, shops, transports systems, hotels, and cinema (as how many steps and which size? Are the doors large enough? Are there elevators? Is it possible to accede to bathrooms?). This application is now available for several towns in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and each citizen can contribute and add details on the shops /hotels / restaurants he /she knows. In the future, the association will try to develop some links with large touristic operators like expedia.com or booking.com in order to systematically integrate a link on the accessibility of the accommodations.

Your mobile phone helps you to travel in your daily life

Funka Nu is a Swedish organization that had developed some mobile applications targeting people with Asperger syndrome. Thanks to only one mobile application, a person can organize his whole travel. The application helps the person with the following services:

  • When should I leave home? A clock with an alarm alerts the person 15 min before he has to leave
  • What do I need to bring with me? My wallet? My keys? My transport card? My lunch box? The mobile application is suggesting a list that you just need to tick.
  • I am on the bus, where should I go down? My mobile application helps me to follow each bus stop and sends me an alarm just before my own stop, reminding me that I need to call for a stop.
  • I don’t remember my way? My mobile app helps me, thanks to a geolocalisation system, which alerts me if I am going in the wrong direction.
  • I need help? I can directly have access to an emergency button to call one of my relatives.

This mobile application is developed for Stockholm city so far, but a broader application could be envisaged with a wider geographical and targeted public scopes: in particular, young people or elderly people with dementia could benefit of this application.

Please click here if you wish to know more about Funka Nu’s initiative: http://www.funkanu.com/en/Our-Expertise/Research-projects/Arkiv-Forskningsrapporter-och-fortroendeuppdrag/Mobile-accessibility-guidelines1/

Cultways project: how mobile application enhances cultural routes.

This CIP project is using mobile application to help the users with special needs. Its application is integrating maps, compass, useful information on how to travel in a safe and secure way, where you can stay, where you can find a supermarket, but also information on the touristic places (like cathedrals) you could visit. This mobile application was successfully tested at the end of October 2013 on 30 pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostella’s route.

The video presenting this mobile application:

e-create: the other Interreg IV C project on ICT and tourism.

Christin Prange, from Transromanica presented some of the Good Practices they have collected during their e-create project to improve tourism thanks to ICT, such as some smartphones applications to give information on roman cultural heritages and find the points of interests in Germany; interactive stores of tourism in Portugal where you can have access 24/7 without the help of anybody; some story-telling available in QR codes with some audio-video descriptions appears when scanning the QR code.

As the e-create project will have to implement a pilot project (which is a mobile application to encourage tourism), e-create and dante members have discussed about the idea to try to link our two pilot projects in order to have a better pilot project at the end. This idea will have to be further discussed with all the partners during the DANTE next meeting.