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The celebration of World Tourism Day in 2016 raised accessibility awareness globally. Under the theme Tourism For All, the UNWTO released a report offering some hard data, estimating that 15% of the global population — over 1 billion people — are living with some form of disability.

That’s why we knew we had to be the first company offering GPS multilingual commentary solutions to design products that are more accessible.

Partnering with the Canadian Institute for the Blind and the Canadian Hearing Society, Listen Technologies is the first company to introduce accessible design into its GPS multi-language commentary solutions for social inclusion. Patent-pending seat-back units offer passengers an easier orientation of user controls and braille for the blind.

Location-specific audio and visual announcements improve access to crucial orientation information for all passengers. GPS triggered video provides Sign Language tours for deaf visitors and captioning for the hard of hearing.

Forward-thinking destinations and regions are shaping new accessibility policies and forming strategic plans to meet the needs of people with disabilities, maximizing the quality and competitiveness of their tourism offerings.

With populations rapidly aging, important changes need to be made to improve “good access.” An EU study, “Economic Impact and Travel Patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe” estimates that 27% of the total population in Europe and 12% of the tourism market needs better accessible environments and services. By providing more positive experiences for visitors and locals alike, tourism “can be enjoyed equally by everybody, regardless of one’s abilities,” the UNWTO indicated.

Breaking down language and accessibility barriers means committing to social inclusion. Organizations providing better access to products and services gain an edge in their market.

“The accessible travel market tend to travel more frequently during the low season, usually accompanied or in groups, make more return visits and, in some parts of the world, they spend more than average on their trips,” the UNWTO declared. “Facilitating travel for people with disabilities is therefore not only a human rights imperative but also an exceptional business opportunity,” the report continued.

Enterprising sightseeing companies are breaking down barriers to accessible travel. Tourism For All sends a crucial message to your potential customers – that you believe in welcoming everybody, no matter what their impairment.

According to UN estimates, there are 650 million people with differing disabilities and 600 million older adults. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission, UNESC, revenue generated by this market is a staggering $13.6 billion in the United States alone. By providing unique, memorable tourism experiences that enhance people’s lives, tour operators unlock opportunities to reach new markets.

Tourism For All

  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reported an estimated 650 million persons are living with disabilities in the world today. If one includes the members of their families, there are approximately 2 billion persons who are directly affected by disability, representing almost a third of the world’s population.
  • The accessible tourism market is approximately 27% of the total population and 12% of the tourism market based on EU Study (2014) “Economic Impact and Travel Patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe.
  • The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health Services recorded that approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) over 18 years old report trouble hearing.
  • One in eight people in the United States (13%, or 30 million) over 12 years old has hearing loss in both ears.
  • The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) states that more than 23.7 million American adults have difficulty seeing with and without visual aids (glasses, contacts, etc.)
  • One in five people (19.6%) live with a severe seeing limitation and need visual aids, but don’t have them because the costs are too high.
  • An estimated 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired.
  • 1 in 4 Canadians report hearing loss, with 10% identifying as deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
  • The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) reports approximately half a million Canadians are estimated to be living with significant vision loss that impacts their quality of life, and every year more than 50,000 Canadians will lose their sight.
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