I chose this article to comment on, not only because it was in line with my own interests and research, but also because it was very educational and insightful, especially as the author has conducted her own primary research.
The author has pointed out that most of the people struggling with vision or hearing loss are older, which means that they were not taught Braille or sign language, and must rely on other means to communicate. There is a discrepancy between how many people can read it and how often it is used. Beside the recommendation made by the author to provide tactile maps, audio guides and large print versions of information, it could be also beneficial if the staff was properly trained. UNWTO (2013) recommended that a number of staff in a business should be trained on how to communicate with people with sensory disabilities, and how to provide better assistance and services for them.
However simple ‘as you go’ aids are not enough. To achieve the goal of fully accessible tourism, stakeholders (architects, designers, local council, policy makers etc.) communication is key. The stakeholders should be aware of the issues and the needs of disabled travelers, to be able to develop new accessible solutions (Michopoulou et al., 2015). Krakow is an example of a successful cooperation among different stakeholders that made the city’s attractions accessible. For example, the city has created ‘The Royal Tract for the Disabled Tourist’ which consists of touchable mock-ups (made of bronze) of 12 famous attractions within in the city. They not only act as a tactile map, but also include information about the place (in Braille and flat print), and are accessible by wheelchair (Popiel, 2014). Later, Krakow has also created ‘Guide of Krakow for a disabled tourist’, available both in print and as a mobile app. Maybe the city of Lincoln could follow the footsteps of Krakow? Lincoln Cathedral already has a model placed in the building, but unfortunately it is behind a tall glass, making it unhelpful to those with vision impairments.
One of the improvements that could benefit the author’s article would be explaining better the primary research. Personally, I would be very interested in more in-depth description of the research and the findings. It could also be an interesting idea for further research to find out why tactile maps are not popular – is it due to the lack of awareness, high costs, or possibly no need for them?
Michopoulou, E., Darcy, S., Ambrose, I. and Buhalis, D. (2015). Accessible tourism futures: the world we dream to live in and the opportunities we hope to have. Journal of Tourism Futures, 1(3), 179-188.
UNWTO (2013). Recommendations on Accessible Tourism. Available from: http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/pdf/unwto_recommendations_on_accessible_tourism.pd
f [Accessed 24 April 2018]
Popiel, M. (2014). PAVING THE WAY TO ACCESSIBLE TOURISM ON THE EXAMPLE OF KRAKOW. European Journal of Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation, [online] Special Issue, pp.55-71. Available at: http://www.ejthr.com/ficheiros/2014/SpecialIssue/EJTHR_Volume5_SE_Art3.pdf
[Accessed 18 May 2018].