At CAS Trips, we make it our business to ensure that as many students as possible get to experience the benefits that educational travel has to offer. There are one billion people in the world living with a disability, and therefore making travel viable for everyone means that we need to prioritize accessible travel information.
As an industry, though, we still have a long way to go in making our cities friendly for visitors with all types of accessibility requirements. As it stands, disabled travelers often experience a range of roadblocks over the course of their journeys, and these issues take time to resolve.
With an eye towards a brighter future for travel, we aim to support accessible destinations and find ways to challenge the status quo. The travel industry is takings steps to make itself more inclusive to people with mobility, hearing and vision limitations, and we are committed to contributing to these initiatives whenever possible.
In support of ensuring that all travelers can access the facilities and services found in locations they are visiting, we would like to highlight some accessible travel destinations and look at how cities are taking steps to ensure persons with disabilities are included.
From beautiful architecture to a delightful culinary tradition and stunning seaside views, there are plenty of reasons why visitors fall head over heels for this Catalonian city. As such, we have been glad to see the recent push from the national tourism authority towards accessible travel. With over 80% of the metro stations and 100% of buses wheelchair-accessible, as well as a relatively flat and cobblestone-free old city, getting around is a comfortable experience for all.
This includes access to the top sites, as well. There are dedicated queues and entrance protocols for wheelchair users at the breathtaking Sagrada Família, the Mercat de la Boqueria, and even the beach has wheelchair access—including people on hand to help out.
Geneva has established many innovative programs to make the city more accessible, and we are delighted that more visitors will now have the chance to discover this world-class metropolis where the headquarters of the United Nations, Red Cross, World Trade Organization, CERN and World Health Organization, among others, are located. Upon arrival, visitors will notice that the Geneva Airport is largely accessible to all persons and is well connected by public transport. Most trams and buses are accessible, and the Geneva transport authority is constantly replacing inaccessible vessels with accessible ones.
In a testament to the city’s priorities going forward, Mobilité pour Tous (Mobility for All) is a program established in partnership with the Geneva Public Transport service network. It provides free service to enable persons with vision impairments or walking difficulties to travel on public transport networks with a guide.
Filled with the newest technologies and plenty of sustainability inspiration, Copenhagen has earned a reputation as a highly livable city full of local innovators. Accordingly, it has been encouraging to see that local government is taking steps to ensure all are welcome. With accessible streets and sidewalks, wheelchair ramps for public transport, and wheelchair-accessible public toilets, anyone can feel at ease while exploring the city’s many delights.
From the Tivoli Gardens to The National Gallery of Denmark, there are plenty of attractions and museums with accessibility for wheelchair users, and most even have free wheelchairs to borrow for the visit. Therefore all visitors can comfortably explore the local art scene and partake in workshops to get a taste of what a strong community looks like in Copenhagen.
The city also has an incredible variety of vegetarian, vegan, and health-conscious restaurants, so all dietary requirements can be easily addressed while taking in the local culinary offerings.
Freedom and independence are closely associated with the spirit of Berlin, and now those qualities can apply to how all visitors experience the capital. Following the success of local grassroots initiatives that became established through the creation of Tourism for All, many museums, memorials and exhibitions are especially suitable for wheelchair users.
In addition, many also offer selected programs of tours and events for visitors who are blind, hard of hearing or deaf. For example, the Jewish Museum, the Bauhaus Archive and Charlottenburg Palace, all offer special guided tours for visually impaired visitors. The Reichstag and the Berlin Zoo also have special initiatives for blind visitors.
Many Berlin train stations and methods of transportation are also barrier-free.
New York City, USA
From the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the peaceful tranquility of Central Park, NYC contains multitudes. However, as with any big bustling city, it was not always synonymous with accessibility. Thankfully, there are plenty of dedicated people working to solve the city’s issues, and accessibility has also been prioritized by the many innovative charities and NGOs operative throughout the boroughs.
Although the city’s subway system remains only partially accessible, the bus service has stepped in to fill the gap. MTA buses in the city of New York are accessible to those with disabilities and users of wheelchairs.
The vast majority of NYC’s most popular attractions are also open to all. More prominent sights like Central Park have access maps to help visitors determine the most suitable route. Additionally, The Met offers a broad slate of programs for visitors with a range of disabilities. The neighboring Guggenheim Museum, meanwhile, is accessible by nature of its architecturally marvelous spiral ramp (elevators are also available between levels).
Over the last two decades, Medellín has transformed into a bustling city incorporating industry, commerce, and a ton of exciting culture. Thankfully, it has also been changing from an accessibility point of view. These days, anyone has the freedom to visit its tourist attractions in a safe, comfortable, and efficient way.
The center of Medellín contains several accessible passages where visitors can find local shops with gastronomy, crafts, textile, and much more. Better signage has also been a priority. There are now tactile guides and intelligent traffic lights, ensuring all visitors can take full advantage of the city’s sights and recreation areas. Major attractions, such as the House of Memory Museum, which takes visitors on a journey through the history of the armed conflict in Colombia, have all the infrastructure for the mobilization of people with disabilities.
As you can see, a lot is being done to eliminate the physical, sensory, and communication barriers in many of the world’s most exciting cities. We love seeing the generation of spaces, environments, and services that can be enjoyed by all, but also acknowledge that there is still plenty of improvements to be made. Working towards better access as an industry, we are always grateful for insight and suggestions from our travelers and trip leaders when new challenges or developments come along.
If you have concerns or questions about how we can personalize your CAS Trip to be more accessible, please get in touch to speak with a member of our team.
Featured Image: Photo by Jakub Pabis.