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8. The Transportation Accessibility Chain

For a person with a disability, a journey is only possible if every link in the chain that makes up that journey from point of departure to destination is accessible. For example, while the airport from which one departs might be accessible, this does not automatically guarantee the same provisions at the destination airport. This is true of each link: urban or rural public transit, adapted vehicles, including hire cars, coaches, buses, trains, trams, passenger and ferry boats and cable-cars. (Travel by taxi and barrier-free pedestrian pathways are discussed in other sessions).
In this session, we wish to:

  • Discuss how the concept of an accessible transportation chain for citizens and visitors can be turned into a reality.
  • Consider whether local adapted transit/paratransit services can and should be made available to tourists.
  • Identify the weakest links in the accessible transportation chain and their causes.
  • Evaluate the elements that are necessary to create a barrier-free community.
  • Identify technical advances that have been made and how they can be extended to new regions and countries.

8.1 Air Travel and Airport Services

While notable efforts have been made to facilitate air travel for people with disabilities, challenges still exist. Disabled travellers often miss their connecting flights, and a disabled traveller’s journey to their seat is often a laborious one.
In this session, we wish to discuss:

  • What we can do to ensure compatibility of services/facilities between airports/air carriers in different parts of the world.
  • The best model for managing connecting flights for people with disabilities.
  • The key priorities for improvement at the airport, when boarding/disembarking and on board the plane.
  • How tourists with a disability arriving by air can find out about and access accessible ground transportation services.

8.2 Transportation by Rail, Maritime and Coaches

Trains and coaches (or over-the-road buses) are the most popular modes of long distant public transportation in most countries, while in others, maritime travel is the prevalent mode of transportation.
In this session, we wish:

  • To identify the rules for access by motorized wheelchair and consider whether there need to be limits on size and weight.
  • To discuss the recommended interior layouts of accessible vehicles.
  • To compare the standards between one provider/country and the next.
  • To share best practices, especially in staff training.
  • To identify the services and amenities required at stations, terminals and stopovers.
  • To explore whether information can be standardized to help tourists with disabilities find their way around (including the use of pictograms and other universally accessible information).
  • To identify the follow-up process for complaints.

8.3 The Taxi, an Essential Link in the Transportation Chain

Taxi services are indispensable to the local population and visitors, whether they provide spontaneous, last-minute, or sometimes, emergency travel, as a vital link to urban and long-distant public transportation, as an option for economically disadvantaged people without cars, etc. Taxis are also invaluable to people with disabilities. Yet, local taxi services are often cited as the weakest or missing link in the accessible transportation chain, Service regulation is overseen by local and regional authorities. These regulations are often dictated by the local context and conventions of the city in question, and thus vary widely from one place to another. Yet positive initiatives also exist.
In this session, we wish:

  • To identify the best financial and regulatory frameworks to ensure the availability of adapted taxis to respond to the passenger’s demand.
  • To consider the fragmented state of the industry and how the goal of an available, adapted taxi service can be offered at the same cost and conditions as a regular service.
  • To evaluate the universal standards that an accessible taxi vehicle must respect. Is this universal model available on the market?
  • To assess what training taxi drivers receive to enable them to provide safe and dignified journeys for people with disabilities.

8.4 Personal Mobility, Technical Aids and Public Spaces

New technologies are enhancing the performance of mechanical mobility aids, while increasing the appeal of these aids to a more mobile clientele looking to get around in comfort and safety.
In this session, we wish to discuss:

  • The "legal status" of different powered mobility aids and how this affects availability of mobility options for people with reduced mobility, examining different rules in different countries.
  • Current perspectives on innovations in mobility aids and their impacts vis-à-vis access standards.

Conditions to ensure a peaceful and safe co-existence between mobility aids, pedestrians, and cyclists on sidewalks, pathways, and bicycle lanes.