In the German town of Seifhennersdorf, the final workshop of the Travelling with Disabilities project took place, culminating many months of work in mapping and making new routes accessible for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.
The aim of the Disway Trails project was not only to discuss together the challenges of improving accessibility to natural and historical sites, but above all, together with local patriots, to create brand new routes for travellers with disabilities and to offer them a modern web and a mobile app to guide them through the region.
"The mapping was carried out by wheelchair users themselves, who can best assess and evaluate all the requirements for barrier-free accessibility. We mapped according to the methodology of the Prague Wheelchair Users' Organisation, which has been adopted by the Ministry for Regional Development. We mapped both the objects themselves and the routes in nature," adds Aleš Černohous, one of the mappers.
In total, 17 new travel routes were created, over 60 objects were mapped and 11 people with disabilities were involved in the mapping. The fact that people with real disabilities are directly involved in the mapping itself makes the project unique.
Several workshops were held with local entrepreneurs and managers of natural and cultural sights. It is for them that feedback directly from people with real constraints is very valuable. Making a guesthouse, hiking trail or cultural monument accessible only through the given standards and regulations is only half of the success. Just the little things that people in wheelchairs, for example, often see can make a place a truly accessible space.
"In San Francisco, we found a well-equipped accessible room, but on the second floor without an elevator. In Moravia there was accommodation with a well-equipped bathroom, but there was so much furniture in the room that it was impossible to move around with a wheelchair. In Dublin, there were five steps leading up to the wheelchair accessible room. The receptionist took the elevator with us and just checked ups at the bottom of the stairs... Simply, people without disabilities cannot see all the obstacles that await wheelchair users on the road," adds Marie Harcubová, who has visited over 35 countries despite her limitations.
The new mobile app can be downloaded for free at the project website trails.disway.org, where you can also browse the new trails. The project organizers want to continue mapping the trails to help people with disabilities reduce barriers to travel.