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The Best Accessible Destinations for Travelers with Disabilities

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Travel is an enriching experience that should be available to all people. For people with disabilities, who represent more than a quarter of the U.S. population, accessibility is vital for safe and enjoyable travels.

Here are some of the world’s top cities for wheelchair accessibility and accommodations for people who are blind, deaf or have other disabilities. Cities on this list for travelers with disabilities were chosen based on transportation options, ease of access to attractions and amenities, and availability of information on accommodations.

London, England

Accessible tourism contributes the equivalent of more than $17 billion to London’s overall tourism industry, according to a 2018 study.

London’s official travel guide includes detailed accessibility guides to attractions, information on how to navigate transit, and options for renting mobility equipment. And inclusive design is used throughout much of London’s streetscape, including step-free access, ramps and smooth surfaces. 

London’s transit system, managed by Transport for London, is one of the most accessible in the world.  All of London’s public buses and the iconic Black Cabs are fully wheelchair accessible. There are a few limitations to accessing London’s rail and underground network – about 45 percent of the trains are step free from car to platform, and that number is expected to grow.

The online journey planner tool by Transport for London is incredibly useful for planning trips because you can select your public transport accessibility needs. Options range from use of escalators but not stairs, to full step-free access.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam has a huge advantage over other cities in the realm of accessibility – its network of more than 400 kilometers of bike lanes which are also used by people in wheelchairs to safely avoid traffic. If you want to join in on the city’s obsession with bicycles, you can even rent adapted bikes, including ones that incorporate a wheelchair. Almost all of the city’s attractions are accessible to wheelchair users and people who are partially sighted, though not the Anne Frank House and Rembrandt House Museum.

The city’s official guide includes accessibility information such as details on navigating attractions, and accessible canal cruise operators and taxis.

Tokyo, Japan

Ground surface indicators, which were invented in Japan, help warn people who are visually impaired of potential obstacles and hazards and are found throughout Tokyo. The city’s main streets feature curb cuts and though smaller streets often don’t have sidewalks, drivers in the capital city are known to be incredibly considerate. Many light rail stations are also equipped with details such as handrails with braille print on the underside to further assist visually impaired riders.

Admittedly, many improvements remain to be made regarding accessibility for the Tokyo Metro light rail system, according to disability advocates. But the city made major recent strides to improve transit accessibility following the 2013 announcement that the Summer 2020 Olympic games were to be held in Tokyo. Though the pandemic halted international travel, the city’s transit system continued its push for improved accessibility. For example, transit staff have a longstanding reputation for helpfulness but lack of an effective communication system between staff hampered accommodations for riders with disabilities, reports Bloomberg.

“In the past, workers relied on handwritten instructions for staff to coordinate coverage for a rider. Now, operators such as Tokyo Metro use QR codes and tablet or smartphone-based systems, allowing for a more seamless experience between stations and allowing staff to assist larger volumes of disabled riders.”

Singapore, Singapore

The city-state has mandates that ensure the accessibility and safety of elevators and escalators, and that restrooms are available on the ground level of all buildings. And more than 95 percent of Singapore’s taxi stands, bus shelters and walkways are wheelchair accessible.

As of December 2020, all of Singapore's public buses are wheelchair accessible. The Singapore Mass Rapid Transit system is one of the most efficient ways to get around the city, with trains running between more than 140 hubs. All MRT stations include wide fare gates, ramps and lifts, and wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and all trains feature two wheelchair accessible carriages, clearly identified by emblems. Braille plates in station elevators and tactile ground paving helps travelers who are visually impaired navigate between station entrances and train platforms. And people who are deaf can view arrival times and destinations on screens along platforms, and flashing lights indicate when train doors are closing.

New York, New York

The accessibility page of the Official Guide to New York City is an invaluable reference with detailed accessibility guides of tourist attractions and articles about accessibility within the city.  There’s also a searchable database with accessibility information for museums, galleries, hotels and restaurants.

For people who are visually impaired, touch tours are a popular way to experience the city’s museums. The Museum of Modern Art has offered touch tours of artwork for more than 50 years. Don a pair of thin plastic gloves and experience works such as Umberto Boccioni’s 1913 bronze sculpture “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space through touch and words. The Tenement Museum provides a scale model for people who are blind to interact with before entering the museum. And the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum offers a tactile guide with raised images of some exhibitions and objects. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the museums mentioned offer assistive devices.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, however, has room for improvement. Though many people with disabilities note that New York City’s transit system is incredibly extensive, most subway stations are not fully accessible, often lacking both elevator and escalator access. During the pandemic, the city made strides to improve accessibility by upgrading 12 more stations for ADA compliance. And bigger changes are ahead. The transportation authority has also included numerous accessibility improvements in its master plan and has recently hired its first chief accessibility officer.

Las Vegas

The city stands out as having more ADA accessible hotel rooms than any other place in the U.S., with multiple price brackets and types included. Many accessible rooms in Vegas have features such as ceiling hoists and visual and vibrating alarms. And the staff in casinos have been trained to assist customers with disabilities at gaming tables and place bets if further assistance is needed. 

Most tourist areas in the city have wide sidewalks that accommodate wheelchairs and scooters and there are curb cuts at all intersections and visual and audio aids at every crosswalk. The four-mile-long Monorail is perhaps the best way for people with disabilities to quickly travel up and down the Strip. All public buses are equipped with lowered floors, ramps, wheelchair securement, and seating for people with disabilities.

Travel insurance is an excellent tool that can help make travel easier for people with disabilities. All travelers should keep in mind that domestic health insurance plans often won’t cover medical emergencies while traveling abroad. Allianz Travel Insurance plans with Emergency Medical benefits can help you fill this gap in the event of a covered medical emergency. Certain plans also offer benefits that can reimburse you for certain non-refundable expenses if your trip is canceled or delayed for a covered reason. And our  24/7 assistance services can help make your trip smoother with services such as translation, and coordinators that can connect with local service providers for a wide range of needs.

Get a quote for travel insurance protection for your next trip.

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