Whether it is exploring the highlands or checking out the local wilife, there’s just something about Scotland. As someone who appreciates sign language tours, it can be a challenge finding one.
As a result, Access to Adventure agreed to do an interview to explore this opportunity.
About the Interview
I am passionate about accessible/inclusive travel and tourism. Not just for everyone, but in particular, the deaf and hard of hearing people as well. As you can imagine, it was a thrill to connect with an adventure tour company in this area.
That said, let’s start the interview and discover more about what Access to Adventure has to share. Steve Callaghan who is the managing director will be answering a few questions.
Question # 1
Steve, thank you for taking the time to do this text interview. First of all, can you tell us about the defining moment that made you pursue accessible/inclusive travel and tourism?
The actual “light bulb” moment is difficult to pin down, although I am aware of a series of events which helped it to come together.
In my last job (Assistant Director, National Trust for Scotland), I was aware of many adventure tourism companies using our 50+ countryside sites across Scotland, often without us even knowing that they were on site.
Exploring the issues of operational compromise, health and safety, insurance, vicarious liability and common courtesy, I started going into more depth.
Then… a voluntary redundancy opportunity came along and I began to consider my own future, with adventure tourism as an attractive prospect.
Then my daughter was relaying her difficulties in getting my disabled granddaughter’s social club members onto countryside activities and it all started to come together.
I spoke with the Equalities and Diversity Manager at Visit Scotland, the wonderful Chris McCoy MBE and she staggered me with the statistics and the value of the market, as well as the scale of the human need. I was off!
Question # 2
It is clear that Access to Adventure packages follows the latest trend in the adventure travel and tourism industry. Can you explain what your business means by “fully qualified professionals?”
I operate using a mixture of buying in site-based professionals to deliver activities on their site – the countryside rangers who have their individual breadth of specialisms – and direct employment of ex-military veterans and reservists.
They are all qualified in the skills necessary to plan and deliver the relevant countryside adventure, keeping it organised, safe and legal.
Where specific needs require specific care, there is an expectation that the disabled client will bring their carer with them. The carer gets a 50% discount for participation in the activity or activities.
Question # 3
Describe to us what a deaf or hard of hearing person can expect to experience with your services. For example, they may not be aware of noises such as a wolf howling or a guided tour presentation.
For those who prefer sign language, I buy in the services of a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter at need, should one not already be a part of the group. There is good provision of such interpreters across Scottish local authorities at a manageable cost, as regards passing it on (at cost) to the group.
For those who uses assistive technology, we would also ensure we have portable induction loop equipment.
Where there is/are a deaf or hard of hearing person or persons in the group, the activity leader is aware of this and ensures more description than usual to help the interpreter to work effectively.
Question # 4
For those with specific human conditions, a common issue is the ability to work. What’s the number one insight you have to offer to encourage those who want to work in this industry?
The empathy towards tourist travellers with a specific human condition coming from someone with a similar condition is a powerful thing.
It can make all the difference to the traveller if they are met with understanding and useful assistance at every stage.
I would strongly encourage participation in this field from people with a range of disabilities, suggesting that they cite this advantage and the value of the disabled traveller market to potential employers.
Question # 5
In my opinion, the accessible/inclusive travel and tourism industry is fragmented in many different areas. What advice can you share to encourage businesses and organizations to work together?
This is where the bespoke nature of our service is key.
Each individual and group contacting us is different, in terms of disability or specific needs, group size and composition and wishes regarding length of engagement with us from half-day up to three-week holiday and their needs relating to transport, accommodation and meals.
Therefore we do not offer a complete package at the outset, merely indicating the sorts of packages which might be on offer.
It is imperative that we build the experiences at the planning stage, up to the full holiday, with the client. We “join up” the accessible elements within a range of other businesses – again, transport, accommodation, entertainment, meals and, or course, the countryside experiences.
I urge the creation of more central, “joining-up” companies to pull the bits of provision together into whole packages.
Final Question for Access to Adventure
Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. If my audience has questions for you, what is the best way for them to ask you?
firstname.lastname@example.org will get straight to me and we can then start a conversation. I would encourage them to check out our web site as well, at http://www.accesstoadventure.scot.
The Bottom Line
It is pretty clear that Scotland recognizes the need for amazing accessible/inclusive travel and tourism experiences. In addition to the demand, it is not a simple matter of creating a tour package and calling it accessible.
Steve and Access to Adventure understands the value of coordinating to ensure the experience accessible and inclusive. After all, we all have the right to enjoy our adventures.
Share your thoughts
What do you think about Access to Adventure’s answers regarding accessible and inclusive adventure tour packages? Is Scotland on your bucket list? What is it that you want to see and do in Scotland?