Foreword by Mary Gallagher, Editor
As many of you know I have done my share of traveling in a wheel chair and using crutches or canes after accidents as well as being with friends who were blind, deaf and have other challenges. It’s always amazing to see how inconsiderate communities, public buildings and spaces are regarding persons with disabilities.
I applaud this years long effort instituted by Madrid and the entire country of Spain in recognizing that travelers are not all perfect. In 2014, Will and I will be back in Spain and test the system ourselves. Walking not in a wheel chair this year!
MADRID, Spain – Madrid has made a strong commitment to making tourism accessible for everyone, and has recently published the an official guided tours of Madrid brochures which offers routes especially designed for persons with physical, visual, hearing, or intellectual challenges.
Madrid has a standing commitment to tourism for all, as illustrated by the 6th Accessible Tourism Guide to Madrid. This publication offers up-to-date, detailed information on the accessibility of a wide range of tourist attractions in the city, including 161 accommodations, 129 places of interest – such as museums, restaurants and theatres – along with seven emblematic routes for exploring the Spanish capital.
The guide provides information on accessibility – gathered in situ by experts from the State Representative Platform of the Physically Challenged (PREDIF) – encompassing 161 hotels, 43 museums and exhibition halls, 28 restaurants, 16 theatres and cinemas, 14 shopping centers, 9 tourist information points, 8 monuments, 7 conference and trade fair venues and 4 recreational activities.
This latest edition of the Guide contains updated information as well as 18 extra accommodation options and 20 new tourist attractions, such as the Conde Duque Cultural Centre, Matadero Madrid, San Anton market and the Madrid City Tour bus. Available on CD, the publication can be accessed via the city of Madrid’s official tourism portal,www.esmadrid.com/es/madrid-accesible .
The new additions include a planned route around the Argüelles district, complementing the six routes already available, which details the specific conditions that persons with disabilities may encounter when touring this area. The other six routes are: “Art Walk,” “Royal Palace and Surrounding Area,” “Gran Via,” “Literary Quarter,” “Salamanca District,” and “Chueca District.”
You can access the Guide on your mobile phone thanks to the Tur4all app, promoted by PREDIF. It provides accessibility information on more than 1,500 tourist establishments throughout Spain. This tool also allows you to search for information on nearby establishments, telling you how far away they are and how to get there. You can personalize your search criteria, find the closest accessible tourist establishment as well as bookmark those which most interest you.
This is a free, accessible app that has been made possible thanks to the support of Fundacion Vodafone Espana, as is also the case with the free “Accessibility” app promoted by the Region of Madrid Federation of Associations of Persons with Physical and Organic Disabilities (FAMMA-Cocemfe Madrid). This system features geolocation and augmented reality as well as providing real-time information on over 25,000 accessible locations around Spain.
PARTNERSHIP WITH ORGANIZATIONS
The Accessible Tourism Guide to Madrid is one of the key initiatives through which Madrid City Council, under the guidance of PREDIF, promotes accessible tourism, as set out in Madrid’s 2012-2015 Strategic Tourism Plan. The initiative is also made possible thanks to the collaboration and support of major organizations from the world of accessibility and tourism, such as Fundacion ONCE, ONCE (Spanish Organization for the Blind), the Federation of Organizations in Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (FEAPPS-Madrid), the Region of Madrid Federation for the Deaf (FESORCAM) and the State Centre for Personal Autonomy and Technical Aids (CEAPAT).
Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau is fully aware of how vital it is for a tourist destination to offer the best possible conditions in order to make any visit a complete and unique experience. Consequently, it promotes services aimed at receiving persons with disabilities. Such commitment further enhances the image of Madrid as a city that is open, easy-to-access and welcoming for visitors, offering a superb range of widely-available services to suit all tastes and needs.
THE FIRST ACCESSIBLE URBAN TOURIST OFFICE IN SPAIN
This Guide is not the only initiative through which Madrid makes it easier for everyone to visit the capital city. Madrid is also the first city in Spain to have a tourist office (its main Tourist Centre, located in Plaza Mayor) awarded the Universal Accessibility certification by the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR). This accessibility system, introduced in 2010 and upgraded annually, covers not only the physical accessibility of a location, but also of the services provided at the Tourist Centre.
To guarantee accessibility, at the entrance of the Tourist Center there is a high-relief map in Braille showing the services available, a description and their location. There are also many informative signs designed with large text and contrasting colors to make them easier to understand. Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau is committed to offering a standardized tourist service accessible to all.
Podotactile bands have been installed for persons with visual disabilities, along with hip supports for persons with reduced mobility and a magnetic loop that reduces background noise to make it easier to communicate with persons that have impaired hearing. The Centre also has a Spanish sign language service, available every day of the year, and the staff at all tourist centers and information points are specially trained in the protocols for assisting persons with disabilities.
Another initiative that reflects the city’s standing commitment to accessible tourism is the creation and adaptation of guided tours for persons with disabilities. Since 2004, the Official Guided Tours Program has been both increased and enhanced by a number of standardized guided routes available to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, such as the three “Essential Madrid” tours, as well as the creation of free guided tours specially adapted for persons with physical, visual, hearing or intellectual disabilities.
Last year, Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau provided 136 specially-adapted guided tours for 2,336 persons with disabilities. This summer sees the launch of some new adapted routes: “El Capricho Alameda de Osuna Historic Gardens,” “El Retiro Park, a Royal Space,” and “Madrid and the River. Trail 1” for persons with disabilities.
Source: Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau