Ways travel is becoming more accessible to disabled travelers

The accessibility of travel is climbing up the legislative and social agendas. In this article, we want to show you how travel is becoming more available to everyone

Traveling for the visually impaired

Earlier this year, Sydney became the first Australian airport to launch a navigation system for the visually impaired. Thanks to technology from a company called Aira, passengers can now navigate not only from their vehicle to their gate, but they can also enjoy the amenities the airport offers, such as food, drinks, shops, etc. 

 

Moreover, while wearing special smart glasses, the app can connect the user to a 24/7 Aira agent who can personalize information and in a friendly manner guide them through the area. With the help of the agent, users can easily locate and identify their luggage or read flight boards.

Additionally, the app makes use of ride-hailing services and helps users order, for example, an Uber. 

Airports facilitating to travelers with developmental disabilities, such as autism

Some airports go that extra mile to facilitate to people with disabilities. 

In 2017, Ireland’s Shannon airport became the first one in Europe to install a soothing sensory room. Here individuals can relax with the low color-changing LED lights and mellow music on. There are also cloud and solar system projections, wavy walls, or illuminated bubbles and fish.

Houston’s two airports have teamed up and launched an app to guide travelers with developmental disabilities, such as autism, throughout their Houston Airport System. According to research, about 13 percent of Americans are estimated to have hidden disabilities, such as autism, which translates to up to 20,000 passengers daily in Houston alone. The free technology uses short picture stories, checklist feature, terminal maps, and other resources to help all travelers to have smooth travel experience.

In Canada, for example, it is possible to do a dry run through an airport to become familiar with it and the process of flying. During this rehearsal, individuals receive mock tickets, go through check-in and security, even talk to pilots and ask them questions. They can also board a plane and get ready for take-off.

Most wheelchair-accessible cities in the UK

Liverpool has 1,426 wheelchair-accessible taxis, which is the equivalent of 2.9 per 1,000 people — lukian025 / Shutterstock
Liverpool has 1,426 wheelchair-accessible taxis, which is the equivalent of 2.9 per 1,000 people — lukian025 / Shutterstock
 

Over four out of five local authorities in the UK have fewer than one wheelchair-accessible taxi per 1,000 residents. Moreover, 34 percent of the authorities still do not require all or part of the taxi fleets to be accessible by wheelchair. 

According to an analysis done by Taxi2Airport.com, Liverpool ended up topping the accessibility ranking. It had 1,426 wheelchair-accessible taxis, which is the equivalent of 2.9 per 1,000 people. London had the highest number of these taxis, more than 20,000 overall (the equivalent of 2.3 per 1,000 residents), but ended up in the third place as it was not enough for a city with more than eight million inhabitants.

The city of Wakefield in West Yorkshire fell short with only 30 wheelchair-accessible taxis, or the equivalent of 0.1 per 1,000 inhabitants, and took the last place.

Luckily, all buses in the UK are required to meet the set accessibility requirements and soon the same will apply to trains.

10 UK cities with the highest number of accessible taxis

Liverpool (2.9)

Coventry (2.3)

London (2.3)

Worcester (2.0)

Manchester (2.0)

Norwich (1.5)

Newcastle upon Tyne (1.5)

Sheffield (1.4)

Plymouth (1.3)

Preston (1.3)

Animal-friendly airports

If following the set rules and regulations, it is possible to bring a service animal or an emotional support animal with you onboard while traveling by plane.

For example, on flights longer than eight hours, many airlines will require proof that the animal can go long without relieving themselves. Luckily, nowadays more and more airports and airlines are recognizing the need for animal facilities.

In the US, JFK is reportedly one of the best-prepared to facilitate pets and other animals. Multiple terminals at New York’s JFK airport have post-security pet relief areas. The airport also has a 4,000 square foot outdoor rooftop area for dogs and their owners to play, or sit and relax. What’s more, it is also possible to receive 24/7 veterinary care just off the runway.

Amsterdam airport features the world’s largest and most modern animal hotel. Here the animals are taken care of by trained animal attendants and they can eat, drink, exercise and rest to break up a long journey.