With an estimate 1 billion people everywhere in the world living with some form of disability, accessibility is an extremely important issue – especially for the tourism sector.
A new report from the Valuable 500 business collective revealed the top 10 most accessible cities in the world, as nominated by 3,500 people with disabilities.
They rated cities based on transport linksthe proximity of the accommodation to attractions, shops and restaurants, and the availability of accessibility information.
The survey took place between late August and September 2022 and involved participants from the UK, US, Japan, China and Australia.
All of the people who participated identified themselves as having a disability.
No city can claim to be fully accessible, says Valuable 500 – but it’s worth highlighting those making efforts to meet the needs of disabled travelers.
With that in mind, here are the cities that made the cut:
In the NetherlandsEqual treatment is considered so important that it is enshrined in Article 1 of the country’s constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on disability or chronic illness, the report says.
Almost all major in the city Tourist attractions are accessible (with the exception of the Anne Frank House and Rembrandt’s 17th-century house), and it’s even possible to take a wheelchair-accessible canal cruise.
The city has also earned points for its accessible public transport system, including an extensive network of cycle paths, which wheelchair users also use – you can even hire an adapted bike, including one that can integrate a wheelchair .
Tourism accounts for a fifth of Las Vegas’ GDP, making it a top priority for the gambling capital of the world.
But what is surprising Vegas‘ is the large number of accessible hotel rooms on offer, according to the Valuable 500 report. Some hotels offer hundreds of accessible rooms, in all price brackets and room types, including famous themed rooms and suites from the city.
Casinos and showrooms are fully wheelchair accessible and equipped with assistive technology for deaf and hard of hearing visitors. And the famous Las Vegas Strip – lined with resort hotels and casinos – is described by the report as a “breeze” to get around, with wide, smooth sidewalks, crosswalks equipped with visual and audio signals and raised walkways to cross the street served. by the ski lifts.
Survey respondents praise London’s generally accessible transport links as well as the accessibility of the city’s museums and other cultural attractions.
Access to information was singled out by the report as particularly noteworthy. VisitLondon’s Accessible London page has a wealth of information for visitors with disabilities, and Accessible provides a searchable, professionally verified database of step-by-step access guides to attractions, hotels, shops, and restaurants, among other locations.
One thing the report pointed to was the city’s subway system – only about a third of subway stations have step-free access. However, all buses are wheelchair accessible, as are all tram stops and most ferry docks.
Nearly one million people living in New York City identify as having a disability, and the city welcomes six million disabled visitors each year, the report said.
This prompted authorities to strive to make New York one of the most accessible cities in the world, facilitating initiatives such as Link-NYC, which replaced payphones with Wi-Fi equipped kiosks. – Free Fi, phone calls, a tablet for maps and city services and device charging.
Where New York does less well is in the accessibility of its metro, which is one of the oldest in the world. Currently, only about 29% of the city’s 472 metro stations are accessible to some degree.
When people think of Orlando, disney world is probably what comes to mind — and Orlando is often ranked as one of the most accessible U.S. cities, largely because theme parks set the bar high, the report notes.
Disney theme parks are renowned for their commitment to inclusivity, accommodating not only wheelchair users, but also visitors with visual, hearing, cognitive and sensory disabilities.
All public transport – the LYNX bus service, the SunRail skytrain and the I-Ride Trolley – are wheelchair accessible, the report adds, and the theme parks also offer complementary buses.
The City of Light has long been one of main tourist destinations around the world, but winning the rights to host the 2024 Olympics has given the city a boost to become more accessible, the report said.
Upstream of the Games 2024Paris is creating 15 accessible pilot districts around the Olympic and Paralympic sites, and improving access to public spaces, hotels, services, shops, etc.
Like other cities on this list, Paris doesn’t work well on metro/metro transport – the Paris metro is largely inaccessible to wheelchair users, but buses, ferries and skytrains offer alternatives.
Entry to many museums, including the Louvre, is free for people with disabilities. And the report also provides a practical tip: wheelchair users and their companions can skip the queue and the barrier to sit directly in front of the Mona Lisa.
Much of Shanghai’s development has occurred in recent years, which means that its infrastructure is relatively new – sidewalks are generally in good condition, with many curbs and tactile floor space indicators leading to crossings walkways and elevators, the report says.
He is pointing out that Shanghai has the largest metro system of any city in the world, with 459 stations and 772 km of track serving an average of 9.5 million passengers per day, and it is fully accessible to wheelchair users, although lifts at the street level can be difficult to find.
And because they are mostly new, many tourist attractions in Shanghai are at least partially accessible.
But a big point for improvement is the availability of information. ShanghaiThe official travel page makes no mention of accessibility, the report points out, making finding accessibility information virtually impossible, at least for foreigners.
According to the report, Singapore’s aging population is “the main driver” of its accessibility, with 95% of pedestrian walkways, taxi ranks and bus shelters accessible to wheelchair users, the elderly and travelers with disabilities. sensory disabilities.
The city-state has implemented a universal barrier-free accessibility code to meet the needs of not only wheelchair users, but also people with visual or hearing impairments or other disabilities, he adds.
Unlike many other major cities, the rapid transit system (Singaporemetro) is fully wheelchair accessible; wheelchair users do not depend on the ramps but can board the train independently.
The vast majority of tourist attractions are handicapped accessible, including the famous Gardens by the Bay resort, which also offers a free shuttle service for wheelchair users and wheelchair rentals.
Forty-five percent of respondents chose Sydney because of its wide variety of accessible accommodations close to cultural attractions, shopping and dining, according to Valuable 500.
sydney is a favorite of wheelchair users because the vast majority of its attractions are wheelchair accessible, he adds, and all new or renovated buildings must meet wheelchair access by law.
Sydney Airport has also launched a partnership with Aira, a service that allows blind and visually impaired travelers to navigate the airport using their smartphone.
Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2013, and Japan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the following year.
The report details how the country’s basic law for people with disabilities has led to measures ensuring access to public facilities, transport and information.
Tactile floor area indicators, which were invented in Japan, are ubiquitous and almost all train and subway stations in Tokyo are wheelchair accessible. There’s also the Tokyo Disneyland theme park, where accessibility is built into the design.
But the report points out that Tokyo’s lack of space means shops and restaurants are often cramped and/or have steps to enter, making it difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.