Showing posts with label inclusive tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inclusive tourism. Show all posts

Thursday, July 3, 2014

KickStart - Accessible Taxis available in Bangalore now at regular rate

Dear Colleagues,

This news in Times of India regarding an initiative KickStart by our colleague and friend Ms. Vidhya Ramasubban is a welcome step for promoting inclusive tourism as well as inclusive mobility in the South Indian city of Bangalore!

Great initiative after your Ladakh project Ms. Ramasubban!

These cabs put the differently abled on the fast track

Sruthy Susan Ullas, TNN | Jun 30, 2014, 01.50AM IST

BANGALORE: Deepa Maski, 28, wheels herself with ease into her office in Electronics City, a stone's throw from her home. Her powered wheelchair is good enough to take her to her workplace every day. But a movie at iMax, Koramangala, becomes impossible without someone's help.

Mobility being a major concern, the project lead with HCL tried stopping several BMTC Volvos and telling the drivers about the ramps available in those vehicles. Surprisingly, many didn't know such a facility existed, and even if they did, they were clueless about how to operate them. Her movie-watching was, therefore, restricted to videos and downloads. But once she found Kickstart cabs, things started looking better.

Today, the disabled-friendly cab service ensures Deepa doesn't find herself stranded. A regular at family functions and social gatherings, she now looks forward to watching movies on the large screen.

KickStart, an initiative by Vidhya Ramasubban, offers cabs that are modified to be wheelchair friendly. Like any other cab service, it offers point-to-point drops, airport drops, outstation and local hire. The cost is almost in the same range.

KickStart has three cars to choose from — The front seat of the Swift Dzire is like an office swivel chair, which can move in and out of the car, allowing the customer to use it like a normal office chair. Then there's the Wagon R with a ramp, which aids the user to get their wheelchair in. The front seat of the modified Toyota Liva is remote controlled, and can jut out of the car to pick the customer from any place.

"Most of the differently abled people and senior citizens are home-bound as they don't have transport to move about. This cab service is changing their lives," explains Vidhya, who has a masters degree in social work, and has been working for the differently abled for close to 15 years.

Ask Rama Chari, a consultant, how convenient the service is for her 80-year-old mother, and she says: "My mother uses a wheelchair which doesn't fit into a car's boot. So every time we'd go somewhere, we had no option but to tie the wheelchair atop the car. The very cumbersome process would put her off and she would avoid travelling. This new cab service has helped her regain mobility. In fact, she even got her wheelchair repaired from Mobility India all by herself," says Rama.

The cab drivers are sensitized to the customers' requirements, helping them in and out of the car. "I am deaf. So every time a cab reaches my home, the driver texts me saying he is waiting outside. No call is made," explains a customer.

From a 10-year-old girl who goes to school in the cab to a 70-year-old who is hospital-bound, customer profiles vary. "We even get calls from clinics. They say many of their patients drop out as they are unable to commute. Most of our clients are senior citizens and differently abled who travel to hospitals or on personal work," says Vidhya.

KickStart cabs have caught the attention of other cities too. In fact, Vidhya soon plans to expand the service both in the city and beyond. The organization hopes to get another 10 cars in the next one year. Vidhya also plans to recruit women and transgenders as drivers to empower them.

Source: Times of India

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disability advocates prefer social media to highlight disability discrimination

Disabled make a point in social media to highlight inaccessibility in Australia

ONE afternoon last month Stella Young went to the Glenferrie Hotel in Hawthorn to have a beer with some friends. But she found the disabled bathroom stacked with cases of wine and it was impossible to get her wheelchair inside.

Earlier Ms Young had been told by staff that the toilet was out of order. Hotel manager Mark Henderson now admits that was a lie. The cases of wine from another hotel were put in the disabled bathroom by Mr Henderson's business partner, and had been there for 10 days.

''Look, it was a huge amount of stock and there was nowhere else to go,'' Mr Henderson said. ''I came in to find it here. I just took too long in getting it out.''

The episode is not uncommon. Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who is blind, has had similar experiences. ''It's unlawful to discriminate against people on the grounds of their disability,'' Mr Innes said. ''If you have an accessible toilet and effectively block its use, then that is just the same as not providing one.''

Patricia Wilson runs excursions for the disability support service, Inclusion Melbourne. She said she stopped going to one council-run facility after it become too burdensome to clean away drug-injectors' blood in the disabled toilet.

Ms Young said she was frustrated with the Disability Discrimination Act, which requires a formal complaint, and now prefers social media. 

Stella Young  at the hotel  where the disabled toilet (inset) became a storeroom.
Stella Young at the hotel where the disabled toilet (inset) became a
storeroom. Photo Courtesy Angela Wylie  (
Rather than use the hotel's female toilets with the door open, which she said ''isn't very dignified'', she left, but not before tweeting an image of the crammed room, which has now been viewed almost 3000 times.

Ms Young, a comedian who edits the website Ramp Up, wrote two emails to hotel management, but it was only after she wrote on their Facebook page that she got a response.

''People with disabilities too often feel as though we don't belong in public spaces,'' she wrote. ''We'd really love your help in changing that.'' Four hours later the hotel wrote back, apologising for their ''blatant ignorance [and] rash, senseless and absent-minded decision-making''. The space has since been cleared.

Kelly Vincent is a member of the South Australian Legislative Council and uses a wheelchair for her cerebral palsy. She has seen disabled toilets used for storage at an Adelaide restaurant, and elsewhere to store furniture.

''Having an accessible toilet that is unusable is maybe worse than not having one at all because it sends the message to people with disabilities that it is just a symbolic cross to bear for these business owners,'' Ms Vincent said.

Source:  The Age(dot) com

Monday, October 29, 2012

Statue of Liberty is now officially barrier free

Dear Friends,

28 October 2012

A good news for the accessible tourism sector! Coinciding with the monument’s 126th birthday, the iconic Crown of the Statue of Liberty will reopen on October 28, 2012, after being closed for a year for renovations to make the New York landmark safer and more accessible to people in wheelchairs.

The renovations include new staircases and an elevator that will make the tourist attraction  more accessible for persons with disabilities. For the first time, tourist in wheelchairs will be able to access the observation decks. The final cost for the renovations totaled about $30 million.

There are also more stairs than ever before, with a daunting 393 steps to the crown, where there were previously 354 slightly steeper steps. Wheelchair accessible elevators inside the pedestal bring visitors to just below Lady Liberty's sandals.

The statue is 151 feet from base to torch. It sits atop the 89-foot (27-meter) tall stone pedestal, which sits on a 65-foot (20-meter) tall foundation in the shape of a star.

Visitors in wheelchairs, who could view the statue only from the ground before, can now ascend to the top of statue's pedestal and see inside the structure. Though they can not access inside the body of the statute still due to design constraints.

Designed by Frédéric Bartholdi, the iconic statue in New York Harbor, the statue, a gift from France to the United States, was dedicated in 1886 and declared a national monument in 1924. In 2009, the crown was reopened to the public for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.