The Rights of Those Travelling with Reduced Mobility

With 16 million people registered as disabled in the UK, it is essential for holiday companies to recognise and accommodate this significant portion of the population. Every person has varying levels of needs and requirements when going out and about, and it is incumbent on those providing the services to ensure these needs are met.

It is equally incumbent on the individual to inform an accommodation provider of any special needs and requirements – particularly smaller independents who may not have the budget, space and experience to make provision for every need. While it is required that businesses make reasonable provision to allow people access to their buildings and premises, the more information a disabled person can supply to a business in advance, the more they can ensure that any special needs are met.

As a disabled person, it is important to carry out as much research as possible prior to booking a trip or journey. This applies to both the mode of transport, the journey you take, as well as the destination. 

Are you travelling within the UK?

While there can be an expectation of ‘reasonable provision’ from UK hospitality businesses if travelling further abroad the rules and regulations will differ considerably. It is for this reason that is important to carry out your own research to ensure that your needs will be met, or indeed that maybe you should seek an alternative destination.

There are some countries that are better known for providing excellent disabled friendly travelling and accommodation, including Germany, Australia and Singapore. So there are still some amazing places that can be explored from the seat of your power chair.

Responsibilities of the tour operators

Section 29 of the Equality Act 2010 clearly states that disabled holiday makers deserve to enjoy a holiday in the same way as an able bodied person. “Where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a disadvantage in comparison to a person who is not disabled, there is a requirement to take steps as is reasonable to avoid the disadvantage.”

This is further underpinned by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, where there is an explicit obligation from the provider to offer a service with ‘reasonable care and skill’. 

With regards to the obligations of tour operators, they are expected to advise consumers as to whether they believe a particular hotel or destination will meet the requirements of someone who has reduced mobility or a disability. It is reasonable to assume that open and transparent communications needs to be carried out, to ensure that the full needs of an individual are understood and informed recommendations are made on the basis of information provided. 

Accessible transportation

The Equality Act 2010 also states that transport operators must make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers. In the UK, all licensed transportation providers – rail, road, underground – are required to operate to what is known as ATP – Accessible Travel Policy. In short, this requires operators to:

  • Provide a passenger assist service
  • Offer alternative accessible transport if the existing location is not suitable
  • Give assistance with luggage
  • Allow power chair or wheelchair carriage
  • Relay passenger information both aurally and visually to keep impaired travellers informed of any changes to arrangements.

Ultimately, the enjoyment and sense of fulfilment that travelling can give is there to be experienced by everyone, disabled and able-bodied. That sense of adventure and desire to explore is non discriminatory, and whether an individual requires the use of a power chair to travel around has no bearing on their desire to visit some of the wonders of the world. The key is to do your research, and plan as much in advance as possible.

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