Accessible tourism is a form of travel or tour operation specially catered to people with disabilities, particularly those related to mobility. The term “accessible” can mean many things, but in the tourism industry, it usually refers to the special needs of handicapped people. Braille signs and audio tours for the blind are common examples, as are closed captions on information videos, wheelchair ramps, and ready access to elevators. In most cases, though, accessible tourism is more than just tourist destinations that can accommodate persons with disabilities. The term is more commonly applied to tours and tour companies that organize trips specifically geared to disabled travelers.
People with disabilities often find it difficult to travel and sightsee. Although many different public facilities and transportation lines have made efforts to cater to all people, travel is often much more than getting from place to place. Once at a destination, people with handicaps often find it challenging if not impossible to experience a place as others might. The primary goal of the accessible tourism movement is to bring the wonders of world travel to individuals who may not otherwise be able to experience them because of a specific disability.
Accessible travel groups exist for almost every handicap imaginable. Some are for the blind, and others the deaf; some are designed specifically for people with mental handicaps, often along with their families. By far the most common sort of accessible travel is tailored towards people with mobility impairments who are bound to wheelchairs and motorized scooter chairs.
Wheelchair-bound travelers often have a very hard time navigating airplanes, train stations, and busy travel platforms. Many modernized destinations in big cities are accommodating to wheelchairs, but the vast majority of ancient ruins, older infrastructures, and historic buildings are not. Accessible tourism finds ways to bring disabled travelers to the forefront of these exciting places, and helps them navigate everything from transport troubles to elevator wait times.
The premise of accessible tourism is built on the intersection of high quality services and personal attention. Trips typically begin as guided tours of already barrier-free destinations, then build out to include more difficult-to-approach destinations as passengers wish. For many, the benefit of this sort of travel is in knowing that routes are planned, provisions have been made, and all special arrangements have been taken care of in advance.
People with disabilities often shy away from travel for no other reason than the enormity of the logistics involved. Organized tours take that burden off. So too do various so-called accessible travel initiatives, many of which are sponsored by non-profit organizations based in local areas or popular tourist cities. These groups dedicate themselves to making sure that handicapped visitors are able to experience the main attractions of their cities. They also usually publish resources on accessible transportation options, lodging, and sightseeing tips and tricks that can be invaluable to disabled travelers and their families.