Tripbod embraces accessible tourism

Europe’s leading Accessible Travel organisation, Tourism for All (TFA, is teaming up with the global travel community (and all round coolest ethical tourism site around at the moment) The aim is to find as many local people as possible with a knowledge of accessibility in their area to become ‘Tripbods’ and offer their local knowledge to visitors.

Tourism For All’s Carrie-Ann Fleming, a Tripbod herself, explains that the idea is an extension of the core Tripbod philosophy. “It’s all about empowering truly independent travel. Connecting with a like-minded local Tripbod before you arrive means you get straight to the knowledge source you need. Disabled people already have all the knowledge they need gained from experiences, good or bad, to offer others with similar concerns all the information they need before they travel”.

The two organisations have been working together for some time, but are now ramping up their activity to make accessible travel core to the whole offering. Tripbod are pioneers in truly embracing accessibility into the responsible tourism model, something which has been long overdue in the ever growing supply of responsible tourism businesses on the market out there right now.’s founder Sally Broom says “You will see that every product we list on the website has an accessibility rating. We wanted to launch with this because we know it’s a central consideration for very many travellers who want to know if a particular activity is suitable for them.”

The announcement comes within days of Easyjet hitting the news for two cases of discrimination against disabled travellers and Broom acknowledges the timeliness of the partnership. “These cases reflect poorly on the travel industry and we want to show another side of the story. 2012 is a massive year for travel in the UK and it would be both a shame and a failure if visitors are unable to enjoy fully their visit due to poor information”.

Thankfully that will now not be the case as Tripbod and TFA will be ensuring that every traveller has access to a like-minded local Tripbod to help plan the perfect trip. Fleming adds, “The initial focus of the partnership will be on recruiting Tripbods in the UK with a knowledge of local accessibility, but the existing Tripbod network is global and we are welcoming everyone everywhere with a passion for independent accessible travel to join us. What’s more, we will be offering simple and effective training for Tripbods who want to help disabled travellers but need a bit more advice and support.” Let’s hope this starts a global growth in accessbility being included in the responsible tourism agenda from now on too, as Tripbod trip the light fantastic into a sector which has been in much need of attention for a long time now.
Read my other recent article on accessible tourism here.

The frustrations of a disabled tourist


The miniscule basin

Further to my article on accessible tourism,  I invited thoughts from disabled readers on the good, the bad and the ugly when they head off on their travels. One reader, Jean Roth from Dublin, Ireland, summed up the frustrations of many as in my guest blog below:

I have always been interested in sensible design for living areas. As someone who is ‘ambulant disabled’ who occasionally requires a wheelchair, I have had many an experience of problems, and could fill a whole article with examples of disastrous situations. But here are just a few of the problems:

  • Showers in baths, toilets that are low and/or without handrails, doors with heavy springs….architects really have no idea when it comes to kitting out hotels for disabled people. They do not account for people who are ‘ambulant disabled’ and give scant consideration to those in wheelchairs, and forget that the disabled person will quite possibly have a partner/carer who will be able-bodied.
  • I always ask for an accessible shower, explaining that it must have level access (not a shower in a bath) or a ‘wet room’. Mostly, I find that the shower is in the bath! This is considered accessible?!
  • My worst experience was in a well known and respected hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo. At first glance, it appeared to be a well appointed bathroom. That is, until one wanted to, for instance, use the bath mat. This was positioned on top of the dividing wall for the shower area, and was approx 6’6″ high, and for many people with mobility issues, the bath mat is vital. The only shelf on which to put ones toiletries was also almost 6′ high.

    Look up to spot the elusive bath mat
  • There was no provision for a partner/husband. My husband, 6’2″ tall, had to use a chair in order to get low enough to use the basin in order to shave. The shaving mirror was also really low – there was no other mirror. It simply never occurs to people that a disabled person might have an able-bodied partner who would require a basin at a normal height with a mirror also.
  • Most Disabled Loos have those ridiculous, tiny basins, with spray taps that only allow a very slow spray. In other words, useless. Why on earth people think that we wouldn’t be able to wash our hands normally, I do not know! And sometimes they are so small there isn’t even room to get ones head down low to brush ones teeth!
  • I have been offered lovely huge baths, but not a handrail in sight, making them totally unuseable.
  • The shower-chair is sometimes positioned at a distance from the shower,which is impossible for a wheelchair user to cope with.
  • Even though I always request disabled facilities when making my booking, we usually find that the first room we are shown on arrival is a ‘normal’ room, which means that we have to go through the whole palaver of going back to reception and insisting on an accessible room.
  • Having travelled extensively, I have found the UK to be the worst when it comes to such requirements, mainly because so many hotels are very old buildings. The British still want their bath, while the rest of the world takes a shower!
  • I firmly believe that, before a building is passed as accessible, the architect should have to work through the building in a wheelchair. This should be done from the car-park in, and throughout the building, and include turning lights on/off, opening and closing doors etc. For instance, try opening a door that has a heavy spring on it, while sitting in a wheelchair!