Access All- Access infirmation for disabled travellers

Access All- Access infirmation for disabled travellers

Access All followed an on-line conversation John had with our friend Deepa Krishnan – head of the Magic Tours group of personal tour companies in India and a Trip Adviser Destination Expert.

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Rajasthan 2011 – potter – step just the right height to rest

Deepa had been asked by the Times of India for some information and commentary on access issues facing disabled visitors to India … well, to quote what John said afterwards:

My friend, Deepa, asked me how I’d respond when asked about disabled access in India and my immediate response was to say how good I’d found Amber Palace. Not perfect, but the Palace was built with ramps to allow  .. well, let me put it this way. I commented on the ramps to our guide who responded that “even hundreds of years ago, people were injured in battle, born or became disabled or grew old”.

971767_653576431335982_1486343890_nA ramp in Amber Palace (and some elephants)

It’s sad that, hundreds of years later, architects, building owners and the guardians of historic places still have not come to terms with the fact that failing to provide access denies their business, their property, their historic place to anyone with problems.

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Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi – almost accessible

What could be done to improve things? Deepa asked.

There are three keys to access: ramps, rails and information

Ramps, because a wheelchair can’t climb stairs

Rails, because a handrail is so very, very helpful for anyone who struggles with stairs

And information, because without clear information about access people planning to visit India will be discouraged or else turn up and be sorely disappointed. How many people have cried tears of frustration and shame at the Taj Mahal when they found they could not climb the narrow, un-railed stairs to the platform? I was lucky, I could just manage to climb the stairs, then rested before entering the tomb, then afterwards before descending – but, again, who knew there are places where you can rest and recover?

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Narrow, polished stairs, lots of people, handrail too low, too close to the wall to be grasped and way too delicate!

That prompted John to write a long post on the India and Disabled forums of Trip Advisor about the conversation and about our own experiences in India. Some places are either inherently accessible or have been well adapted, some places – and, tragically that includes the Taj Mahal – have not.

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Many visitors to the Taj Mahal cannot access the most famous building in the world

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With a struggle, we made it. The stairs are steep, narrow, un-railed and crowded, but once you get to the top there are places – like this – to rest

Reaction to John’s TA posts and some more thought led John to set up Access All- Access infirmation for disabled travellers as a group on Facebook. A group to discuss and share information about the challenges disabled travellers face around the world and the success stories of some guardians of famous places. It’s an open group, so anyone can join or post and we hope it will be a place people will share information about access to places they visit and other travellers may want to go.

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John’s Diana moment – alone (amost) on Lake Pichola, Udaipur

You do not have to be disabled to see when access is good or missing – any parent travellimg with children will experience it, and you just have to travel with your eyes open. Anyone who wants to join the group and share their knowledge will find the group here http://www.facebook.com/groups/651478171544602/

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Mother monkies need access too

The full essay John wrote about India is in a file called, big surprise, “India” and we’ll add and edit files as we go – starting on the basis of one file per destination. We’ve also posted a load of photographs from our trip in 2011, to show you what someone who has disabled issues can still see and do in Incredible India.

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Bullocks! A bullock-driven well, snapped from the car

This could be useful to a lot of disabled people who dream of travelling but are discouraged by a lack of information. It may be, as one of John’s old bosses said, “a damp squid”. (John let him say this for years before finally (when he’d decided to resign) telling him that squid are supposed to be damp – it’s squibs (small explosive devices or fireworks) that aren’t!)

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What sort of birds are they John? Dickie Birdies! Ranthambore

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