Accessible Tourism for Specially Abled: UN View

Globally, it is estimated that there are over 1 billion persons with disabilities, as well as more than 2 billion people, such as spouses, children and caregivers of persons with disabilities, representing almost a third of the world’s population, are directly affected by disability. While this signifies a huge potential market for travel and tourism, it still remains vastly under-served due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services, as well as discriminatory policies and practices.

Accessible tourism enables all people to participate in and enjoy tourism experiences. More people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition. For example, older and less mobile people have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when traveling or touring. Thus, accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. This includes publicly and privately owned tourist locations, facilities and services.

Accessible tourism involves a collaborative process among all stakeholders, Governments, international agencies, tour-operators and end-users, including persons with disabilities and their organizations (DPOs). A successful tourism product requires effective partnerships and cooperation across many sectors at the national, regional and international levels. From idea to implementation, a single destination visit normally involves many factors, including accessing information, long-distance travel of various sorts, local transportation, accommodation, shopping, and dining. The impact of accessible tourism thus goes beyond the tourist beneficiaries to the wider society, engraining accessibility into the social and economic values of society.

International action and normative frameworks

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. CRPD Article 9 on Accessibility calls for State Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to the physical environment, information, transportation and other facilities and services open or provided to the public. It also calls for the elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, including all transportation and facilities. Furthermore, Article 30 on Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport also calls for State Parties to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the benefits of tourism.

At the 2013, historic UN High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, which included several Heads of State, the link of disability and development was discussed and the meeting called for enhanced action to mainstream disability in the global development agenda. In the outcome document of the meeting, accessibility was identified as a key area for action.

In the recent 2030 Agenda for Global Action containing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2015), Goal 11 focuses on principles to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. This goal captures tourism and recreation through its call for the provisions of universal design for accessible and sustainable transport systems, inclusive urbanization, and access to green and public spaces. In its 2011 Declaration,The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicted tourism will increase and experience sustained development, reaching 1.8 billion international tourists by 2030. Accessible cities and tourism provisions therefore ensure the full social and economic inclusion of all persons with direct benefits of promoting more sustainable travel habits among users.

What are the barriers to travel and tourism for persons with disabilities?

For persons with disabilities, travelling can be a challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room to fulfil access needs, often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.

Challenges for persons with disabilities include:
• Untrained professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility issues
• Inaccessible booking services and related websites
• Lack of accessible airports and transfer facilities and services
• Unavailability of adapted and accessible hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, toilets and public places
• Inaccessible streets and transport services
• Unavailable information on accessible facilities, services, equipment rentals and tourist attractions

Why is accessible tourism important?

Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable development policy. It is both a human rights imperative, as well as an exceptional business opportunity. In this context, accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities, it benefits all of society.

To ensure that accessible tourism is developed in a sustainable manner requires that tourist destinations go beyond ad hoc services to adopting the principle of universal design, ensuring that all persons, regardless of their physical or cognitive needs, are able to use and enjoy the available amenities in an equitable and sustainable manner. This approach foregoes preferential or segregated treatment of differently abled constituents to permitting uninhibited use of facilities and services by all, at any time, to equitable effect.

I am not a person with a disability – how does this affect me?

Accessibility is also an important aspect of realizing the rights of the world’s ageing population. As we grow older, our chance of experiencing a permanent or temporary disability is increased. A focus on accessibility can therefore ensure that we are able to participate fully in our societies well into our older years. Accessibility also benefits pregnant women and persons who are temporarily rendered immobile.

The improvements to physical and service infrastructure that come with a focus on accessibility also encourage a more multigenerational focus in development planning. For families with small children, accessible infrastructure – particularly in transportation, city planning and building design – improves the ability of these families to participate in social and cultural activities.

The United Nations is committed to sustainable and equitable development. Certainly, making basic adjustments to a facility, providing accurate information, and understanding the needs of disabled people can result in increased visitor numbers. Improving the accessibility of tourism services increases their quality and their enjoyment for all tourists, as well as improving quality of life in the local communities.


UN Website

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History of Aerial Photography

The first real Aerial photograph was taken around 1826. The first aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by Felix Tournachon, known as Nadar, from a tethered balloon over the Bievre Valley in France. Those photographs no longer exist. The oldest surviving aerial photograph is this one of Boston, taken by James Wallace Black in 1860, using a tethered balloon.


More historical aerial photos, after the jump.

Arthur Batut was the first to successfully attach a timer to a camera (consisting of a lit fuse), and attach the camera to a kite. Here is a picture he took from the air over Labruguiere, France in 1889.

In 1903, Julius Neubronner attached small cameras to homing pigeons, with timers set to take a picture every 30 seconds. The resulting Bavarian Pigeon Corps were reliable soldiers, but were occasionally shot and eaten by hungry troops during wartime.

George Lawrence took this photograph of San Francisco six weeks after the devastating earthquake in 1906. The enormous 49-pound camera was sent to an altitude of 2,000 feet on a train of nine kites, and tripped by electric wire. The camera took many shots to form panoramic images on negatives that were 48 inches wide!

Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) is still popular, and you don’t have to have a pilot’s liscence to do it. Charles Benton of Berkeley has been involved with KAP since 1994, and runs a website with lots of information and photographs.

The first photograph from an airplane was taken in 1908 by L. P. Bonvillain, in a plane piloted by Wilbur Wright in France. A year later, Wilbur Wright also piloted the plane for the first aerial movie, over Italy. Afterwards, aviation photography was put to use for science, mapping, and military reconnaissance. This photo shows before-and-after aerial images of the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium.

Captain Albert Stevens took the first photo that showed the curvature of the earth in 1935. The balloon, the Explorer II, set an altitude record of 72,395 feet! Unfortunately, that image does not seem to exist on the internet. The first image from space was taken in 1946, from a V-2 rocket (launched from White Sands, New Mexico) at an altitude of 65 miles.

The CIA’s Corona Project (1959-1972) laid the groundwork for satellite imagery by taking reconnaissance photographs of China and the Soviet Union, among other areas. This Corona photo shows the Pentagon.

The Mercury and Apollo space missions took aerial photography to a new level. This image of “Earthrise” over the moon was taken from Apollo Ten in May, 1969.



Mental Floss

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NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots

Exposing the Big Game

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Thermokarst lake in Alaska
The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Knowing where emissions are happening and what’s causing them brings us a step closer to being able to forecast the region’s impact on global climate.

The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins to thaw, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These methane emissions can accelerate future warming – but to understand to what extent, we need to know how much methane may be emitted, when and what environmental factors may influence its release.

That’s a tricky feat. The Arctic spans thousands of miles, many of them inaccessible to humans. This inaccessibility has limited most ground-based observations to places with existing infrastructure – a mere fraction…

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Social Groups:The Concept

A social group is a collection of people who interact with each other and share similar characteristics and a sense of unity. A social category is a collection of people who do not interact but who share similar characteristics. For example, women, men, the elderly, and high school students all constitute social categories. A social category can become a social group when the members in the category interact with each other and identify themselves as members of the group. In contrast, a social aggregate is a collection of people who are in the same place, but who do not interact or share characteristics.

Psychologists Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif, in a classic experiment in the 1950s, divided a group of 12‐year‐old white, middle‐class boys at a summer camp into the “Eagles” and the “Rattlers.” At first, when the boys did not know one another, they formed a common social category as summer campers. But as time passed and they began to consider themselves to be either Eagles or Rattlers, these 12‐year‐old boys formed two distinct social groups.

In-groups, out-groups, and reference groups

In the Sherifs’ experiment, the youngsters also erected artificial boundaries between themselves. They formed in‐groups (to which loyalty is expressed) and out‐groups (to which antagonism is expressed).

To some extent every social group creates boundaries between itself and other groups, but a cohesive in‐group typically has three characteristics:

  • Members use titles, external symbols, and dress to distinguish themselves from the out‐group.
  • Members tend to clash or compete with members of the out‐group. This competition with the other group can also strengthen the unity within each group.
  • Members apply positive stereotypes to their in‐group and negative stereotypes to the out‐group.

In the beginning, the Eagles and Rattlers were friendly, but soon their games evolved into intense competitions. The two groups began to call each other names, and they raided each other’s cabins, hazed one another, and started fights. In other words, loyalty to the in‐group led to antagonism and aggression toward the out‐group, including fierce competitions for the same resources. Later in the same experiment, though, Sherif had the boys work together to solve mutual problems. When they cooperated with one another, the Eagles and Rattlers became less divided, hostile, and competitive.

People may form opinions or judge their own behaviors against those of a reference group (a group used as a standard for self‐appraisals). Parishioners at a particular church, for instance, may evaluate themselves by the standards of a denomination, and then feel good about adhering to those standards. Such positive self‐evaluation reflects the normative effect that a reference group has on its own members, as well as those who compare themselves to the group. Still, reference groups can have a comparison effect on self‐evaluations. If most parishioners shine in their spiritual accomplishments, then the others will probably compare themselves to them. Consequently, the “not‐so‐spiritual” parishioners may form a negative self‐appraisal for not feeling “up to par.” Thus, reference groups can exert a powerful influence on behavior and attitudes.

Primary and secondary groups

Groups play a basic role in the development of the social nature and ideals of people. Primary groups are those in which individuals intimately interact and cooperate over a long period of time. Examples of primary groups are families, friends, peers, neighbors, classmates, sororities, fraternities, and church members. These groups are marked by primary relationships in which communication is informal. Members of primary groups have strong emotional ties. They also relate to one another as whole and unique individuals.

In contrast, secondary groups are those in which individuals do not interact much. Members of secondary groups are less personal or emotional than those of primary groups. These groups are marked by secondary relationships in which communication is formal. Members of secondary groups may not know each other or have much face‐to‐face interaction. They tend to relate to others only in particular roles and for practical reasons. An example of a secondary relationship is that of a stockbroker and her clients. The stockbroker likely relates to her clients in terms of business only. She probably will not socialize with her clients or hug them.

Primary relationships are most common in small and traditional societies, while secondary relationships are the norm in large and industrial societies. Because secondary relationships often result in loneliness and isolation, some members of society may attempt to create primary relationships through singles’ groups, dating services, church groups, and communes, to name a few. This does not mean, however, that secondary relationships are bad. For most Americans, time and other commitments limit the number of possible primary relationships. Further, acquaintances and friendships can easily spring forth from secondary relationships.

Small groups

A group’s size can also determine how its members behave and relate. A small group is small enough to allow all of its members to directly interact. Examples of small groups include families, friends, discussion groups, seminar classes, dinner parties, and athletic teams. People are more likely to experience primary relationships in small group settings than in large settings.

The smallest of small groups is a dyad consisting of two people. A dyad is perhaps the most cohesive of all groups because of its potential for very close and intense interactions. It also runs the risk, though, of splitting up. A triad is a group consisting of three persons. A triad does not tend to be as cohesive and personal as a dyad.

The more people who join a group, the less personal and intimate that group becomes. In other words, as a group increases in size, its members participate and cooperate less, and are more likely to be dissatisfied. A larger group’s members may even be inhibited, for example, from publicly helping out victims in an emergency. In this case, people may feel that because so many others are available to help, responsibility to help is shifted to others. Similarly, as a group increases in size, its members are more likely to engage in social loafing, in which people work less because they expect others to take over their tasks.

Leadership and conformity

Social Scientists have been especially interested in two forms of group behavior: conformity and leadership.

The pressure to conform within small groups can be quite powerful. Many people go along with the majority regardless of the consequences or their personal opinions. Nothing makes this phenomenon more apparent than Solomon Asch’s classic experiments from the 1950s and 1960s.

Asch assembled several groups of student volunteers and then asked the subjects which of the three lines on a card was as long as the line on another card. Each of the student groups had only one actual subject; the others were Asch’s secret accomplices, whom he had instructed to provide the same, though absurdly wrong, answer. The experimenter found that almost one‐third of the subjects changed their minds and accepted the majority’s incorrect answer.

The pressure to conform is even stronger among people who are not strangers. During group‐think, members of a cohesive group endorse a single explanation or answer, usually at the expense of ignoring reality. The group does not tolerate dissenting opinions, seeing them as signs of disloyalty to the group. So members with doubts and alternate ideas do not speak out or contradict the leader of the group, especially when the leader is strong‐willed. Group‐think decisions often prove disastrous, as when President Kennedy and his top advisors endorsed the CIA’s decision to invade Cuba. In short, collective decisions tend to be more effective when members disagree while considering additional possibilities.

Two types of leaders normally emerge from small groups. Expressive leaders are affiliation motivated. That is, they maintain warm, friendly relationships. They show concern for members’ feelings and group cohesion and harmony, and they work to ensure that everyone stays satisfied and happy. Expressive leaders tend to prefer a cooperative style of management. Instrumental leaders, on the other hand, are achievement motivated. That is, they are interested in achieving goals. These leaders tend to prefer a directive style of management. Hence, they often make good managers because they “get the job done.” However, they can annoy and irritate those under their supervision.

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