Abta has updated its online accessible tourism training programme, designed to help staff across travel build their knowledge and better understand customers’ needs.
Developed in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the training now accounts for new regulations, such as PTR, and amendments to the Equality Act.
Key teachings include how to handle accessibility issues sensitively, such as non-visible disabilities, and complaints, as well as new legal obligations.
Other considerations cover disability equality and awareness of reduced mobility; hearing, sight, cognitive, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities; temporary disabilities; and challenges brought on by age.
There are also case studies available from Abta members offering real life examples of accessible tourism interactions.
Abta’s ambition is to make accessible tourism matters “consistent, considered and clear” for customers from booking with a travel agent to arriving in destination.
Nikki White, Abta director of destinations and sustainability, said it was vital disabled customers should receive the same service and treatment as any other customer.
“For many people, one of the biggest obstacles they face is the lack of awareness of wider society. Training staff on disability awareness can encourage the right attitudes and give your staff the confidence to maintain your customers dignity. This is true in all sectors. For example, 75% of disabled people have decided not to make a purchase due to poor disability awareness.
“Travel industry staff have a real opportunity to make a difference to many customers, as people are more likely to travel if they are confident their needs can be met. The industry needs to be able to provide this confidence through better awareness and consistency in their service at each stage of the customer journey.
"Making people aware of the need to pre-notify and passing information down the chain to different teams are two such areas that are particularly important.”
The training is split into two courses - demystifying accessibility, aimed at all travel industry staff, and making business sense of accessible travel, aimed at senior staff.
The first block introduces accessible tourism, while the second looks at how businesses can make changes to adapt to the requirements of the accessible tourism market.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added transport access was crucial to disabled people’s ability to live independently and participate in communities.
“We hope all staff working in the travel industry make use of this training to increase their awareness of the needs of disabled passengers, tackle barriers that restrict choice and autonomy for disabled people, and provide a seamless end-to-end travel experience for all,” she said.