Make Your Tour More Accessible

Tips to make your tours and experiences more inclusive for everyone.

By
Janice Sousa
|
May 25, 2021
Janice Sousa
May 25, 2021

Accessibility and inclusivity have changed and grown a lot over the past few years. (With so much more work to do!) 


We know that as a small business owner, and tour operator, you are always looking for ways to improve. It may take investing more time, effort, and resources than you were prepared for, but there are so many reasons why you should promote accessible and inclusive tourism. 


Many people with additional needs have said their needs make travel more difficult or that they don’t travel much due to them, while many say that it also can be more expensive. 


Beyond that, it can be uncomfortable and scary to travel. There are lots of ways to make this experience more inclusive for everyone. From senior travellers, to those with young kids, and even those with various allergies or medical conditions. Not to mention the more “visible” impairments such as customers who use  wheelchairs or experiencing hearing loss. 


Where to start

Let your customers know if you provide assistive listening devices, sign language, or other language translations. This can be done on your website, social media, or any other marketing tool. 


Although you can’t anticipate every need that could possibly arise, it’s important to be a good host and be as welcoming as possible. Thinking of possible barriers and looking to help remove some of them, may require out of the box thinking. 


Technology 

There are plenty of apps that help prepare the user for experiences and a variety of situations when they travel. You can find 23 of the best online tools for travellers with disabilities here.  Disabilities such as low vision/blindness, those who are hard of hearing/deaf, people with cognitive conditions such as autism, or physical conditions. They help with finding amenities, transportation and directions, planning and preparing. Sometimes they need to know if there’s ground floor access, accessible toilets, or even quiet spaces available. 


While you may not have the availability to download every app for every person, a few good ones that you could get (if you don’t have them already) are below. 

  • Google Translate: translates written text in real-time
  • Google Maps: allows access to maps for directions and local information
  • Skype: allows for free phone calls 
  • Local city transportation: for the local city bus, metro, or train apps


Even if these aren’t used during your tour, being available to help with questions or concerns before/after is super important. 


Physical accessibility

This includes access for wheelchairs, walkers, and those with any other sort of physical adaptations. 

It also involves those who are sighted/visually impaired and hearing impaired. 


A few more apps besides the ones above are Blind Square, which describes the surrounding terrain and announces street intersections. There’s also Smart Braille, which allows users to write text in braille as well as translating text into braille. 


Emotional accessibility

A huge part of being inclusive is being aware of how you can help those who come on your tour. In certain situations, you may need to be prepared to: 

  • Explain things a few more times
  • Speak louder or softer 
  • Answer more questions
  • Give someone their space or find a quiet space
  • Share more details or explain the surroundings


Language availability

As a tour guide, you can’t be expected to know every language, but you never know who will be coming on your tour. Technology is incredible these days and there are so many apps and options to help. Translator apps can be super helpful when you’re using audio guides while customers walk around and listen. 


The world is changing and ageing rapidly, so it’s important to be inclusive and create opportunities and solutions for everyone.


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Accessibility and inclusivity have changed and grown a lot over the past few years. (With so much more work to do!) 


We know that as a small business owner, and tour operator, you are always looking for ways to improve. It may take investing more time, effort, and resources than you were prepared for, but there are so many reasons why you should promote accessible and inclusive tourism. 


Many people with additional needs have said their needs make travel more difficult or that they don’t travel much due to them, while many say that it also can be more expensive. 


Beyond that, it can be uncomfortable and scary to travel. There are lots of ways to make this experience more inclusive for everyone. From senior travellers, to those with young kids, and even those with various allergies or medical conditions. Not to mention the more “visible” impairments such as customers who use  wheelchairs or experiencing hearing loss. 


Where to start

Let your customers know if you provide assistive listening devices, sign language, or other language translations. This can be done on your website, social media, or any other marketing tool. 


Although you can’t anticipate every need that could possibly arise, it’s important to be a good host and be as welcoming as possible. Thinking of possible barriers and looking to help remove some of them, may require out of the box thinking. 


Technology 

There are plenty of apps that help prepare the user for experiences and a variety of situations when they travel. You can find 23 of the best online tools for travellers with disabilities here.  Disabilities such as low vision/blindness, those who are hard of hearing/deaf, people with cognitive conditions such as autism, or physical conditions. They help with finding amenities, transportation and directions, planning and preparing. Sometimes they need to know if there’s ground floor access, accessible toilets, or even quiet spaces available. 


While you may not have the availability to download every app for every person, a few good ones that you could get (if you don’t have them already) are below. 

  • Google Translate: translates written text in real-time
  • Google Maps: allows access to maps for directions and local information
  • Skype: allows for free phone calls 
  • Local city transportation: for the local city bus, metro, or train apps


Even if these aren’t used during your tour, being available to help with questions or concerns before/after is super important. 


Physical accessibility

This includes access for wheelchairs, walkers, and those with any other sort of physical adaptations. 

It also involves those who are sighted/visually impaired and hearing impaired. 


A few more apps besides the ones above are Blind Square, which describes the surrounding terrain and announces street intersections. There’s also Smart Braille, which allows users to write text in braille as well as translating text into braille. 


Emotional accessibility

A huge part of being inclusive is being aware of how you can help those who come on your tour. In certain situations, you may need to be prepared to: 

  • Explain things a few more times
  • Speak louder or softer 
  • Answer more questions
  • Give someone their space or find a quiet space
  • Share more details or explain the surroundings


Language availability

As a tour guide, you can’t be expected to know every language, but you never know who will be coming on your tour. Technology is incredible these days and there are so many apps and options to help. Translator apps can be super helpful when you’re using audio guides while customers walk around and listen. 


The world is changing and ageing rapidly, so it’s important to be inclusive and create opportunities and solutions for everyone.