Kate Simon: Holidays for the disabled still have some way to go

"It's very dangerous to say we've come a long way. We've not." Those were the cautious words of Lord Morris of Manchester, speaking last week about the progress made by people with disabilities since he introduced the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act in 1970.

The law, the first of its kind in the world, heralded a sea change in attitudes towards people with disabilities, including within the travel industry. One of the first organisations to lobby for better access to travel and leisure was the charity Tourism for All UK, founded 30 years ago.

Brian Seaman, Tourism for All's head of consultancy, is upbeat about the changes he's seen in recent years. "I have been measuring toilets for 16 years [since joining Tourism for All]. It's not something I'd like as an epitaph, but I now have very few complaints compared with when I started," he says. "Things have improved, not to say that it's perfect."

He points to the shift in the kind of accommodation that people with disabilities can now expect. "A lot of it was institutionalised – like ghettos for disabled people. But now the mainstream has opened up and large travel companies have taken an interest and noted the fact that they need to gear themselves up for this [section of the market]."

Mr Seaman believes that there is also a greater understanding in the industry about providing a good standard of service to people with disabilities. "For example, Intercontinental Hotels – which includes Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza and has a variety of rates to suit all pockets – has a big training programme for staff, so that they are more comfortable in helping disabled people."

Philip Scott, managing director of Can Be Done, which specialises in providing bespoke holidays around the world for people with disabilities, is also positive about the changing experience of travelling abroad. "Spain is exceptionally good for the disabled traveller, and North America, too. There's probably the greatest range of facilities for travellers with disabilities in the Canary Islands," he says.

But he acknowledges that some destinations still have a way to go and that progressive legislation isn't always interpreted properly on the ground. "In Europe, France is probably the worst, with Italy a close second – because there is no real infrastructure for disabled travellers.

"In Spain, we can get accessible transfers arranged between airport and hotel in nearly every major city. In France, outside Paris, it's almost impossible. In fact, we had to buy our own equipment for the hotel that we use for Disneyland Paris because we couldn't source it in France."

One of the latest products being offered by Can Be Done is a new European river cruise on a fully accessible boat out of Amsterdam. Other news for the traveller with disabilities includes the UK National Parks' new guide to accessible activities in Britain's National Parks (nationalparks.gov.uk /visiting/accessforall.htm).

And The Co-Operative Travel has also expanded its disabled-friendly high-street agencies, increasing, from 42 to 89, the number of branches that have staff with specialist training, provide essential information such as airport facilities, and are equipped with power-assisted doors, portable hearing loops and visual alarms in store.

There may still be a way to go for travellers with disabilities, but we are, at least, on the right road.



Do you have a travel issue you want to raise? Email us at: sundaytravel@independent.co.uk

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on