Year of Accessible Tourism: Opportunities for Queensland Tourism Operators
This year has been designated the Year of Accessible Tourism (YOAT) by the Queensland government. This initiative aims to make tourism more accessible and inclusive for all.
YOAT is a year-long collaboration between the Queensland Government and the tourism industry to improve access to tourist destinations and services for people with disabilities.
What is the Year of Accessible Tourism?
The Year of Accessible Tourism is a call to action for everyone to recognise the importance of accessibility and make necessary changes to ensure that every visitor, regardless of their ability, can enjoy everything Queensland offers.
This initiative is not just about compliance with accessibility standards but about creating and expanding welcoming and inclusive environments for all.
What are the Goals of the Year of Accessible Tourism?
The goals of the Year of Accessible Tourism are to improve accessibility across the tourism industry, to raise awareness of the importance of accessible tourism, and to encourage tourism operators to create new accessible experiences. The initiative focuses on three key areas:
- Physical access
- Customer service
- Information access
Opportunities for Tourism Operators: Accessible Tourism Grants
As part of the Year of Accessible Tourism, the Queensland Government is offering several Accessible Tourism grants, including the Accessible Tourism Infrastructure Grant.
This grant is designed to support tourism operators make their facilities and services more accessible for people with disabilities. The grant is available to eligible tourism businesses, including:
- accommodation providers
- attractions, and
- tour operators.
BHA encourages all tourism operators to review the grant and consider how they might make their own tourism business more accessible for people with a disability.
What can the Grant Be Used For?
The types of projects supported by the grant are extensive, leaving plenty of opportunity for smart operators to enhance their offerings. Project categories include (but are not limited to):
- accessibility modification of transport, touring vehicles, vessels or existing infrastructure
- adaptive and assistive technology that can maximise the visitor experience
- augmented reality, virtual reality or extended reality to improve accessibility
- support technology infrastructure that services different accessibility needs
- sensory-friendly environments and space
- keyless entry
- sensor/voice/movement-controlled technology
- stair lifts.
Adaptive and Assistive Technology in the Tourism Sector
As a consumer-driven hearing loss advocacy body, we recognise the many benefits professionally installed and well-integrated Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) can bring to over 17% of the population currently living with hearing loss.
ALDs are designed to help people with hearing impairments hear more clearly. They provide direct connection to the audio source for the user and amplify sound while reducing background noise, making it easier for people with hearing loss to hear speech, music, and other sounds.
This makes ALDs perfect in many tourism settings, including museums, theatres, transport and other tourist attractions. Here are just a few examples:
- Improved access to information during tours: Hearing loops and other assistive devices can make it easier for people with hearing loss to participate in guided tours, including walking or mobile tours, as ALDs allow the user to hear the guide’s commentary more clearly. This can make the experience far more engaging and much more enjoyable.
- Better communication during events: Assistive devices like portable induction loops, FM systems, and infrared systems can improve communication during events such as conferences, seminars, and meetings. People with hearing loss can connect their hearing aids or cochlear implants directly to the hearing augmentation system and hear the presenters more clearly.
- Enhanced audio quality in theatres, halls, and cinemas: Permanent hearing loops and other assistive devices can enhance audio quality in theatres and cinemas, making it easier for people with hearing loss to follow the dialogue and enjoy the show.
- Improved access to audio guides in museums and galleries: Portable hearing loops and other assistive devices can be used to improve access to audio guides in museums and galleries, allowing people with hearing loss to fully enjoy the exhibits and learn about the artwork on display.
- Better communication in public spaces: FM and infrared systems can be used in public spaces like airports, train stations, and shopping malls to provide better communication for people with hearing loss. This can help them navigate the environment more easily and participate fully in social activities.
How can BHA Help Queensland Tourism Operators Improve Accessibility?
Better Hearing Australia has several services and supports for tourism operators wanting to improve accessibility, especially for their clients and visitors with hearing loss.
Tourism operators may wish to consider these services when thinking about the accessibility options to include in their grant applications.
Hearing Ready Audits
The BHA Hearing Ready Workplace Audit helps businesses understand how hearing loss impacts their workplace and whether they comply with relevant legislation.
The audit also assesses whether customer-facing roles understand the communication needs and available supports for people with hearing loss, whether managers can support staff with hearing difficulties, and how hearing loss affects productivity.
The audit includes an environmental audit, key staff consultations, legislative compliance review and risk analysis, hearing augmentation system check/recommendations, and training needs assessment.
An obligation-free detailed findings report, with remedial action recommendations, is provided after the assessment, and BHA is available to support organisations throughout the process and assist with any follow-up actions required.
BHA Hearing Ready Workplace Education & Training
Designed for different business types, workplace environments and service delivery contexts, BHA’s Hearing Ready Workplace Education and Training programs (https://bhabrisbane.org.au/services/business-support-services/) support front-line staff and managers better meet the needs of hard-of-hearing employees and customers.
BHA can provide customised place-based training or convenient online training modules developed specifically for your industry.
BHA also provides individualised support to employees to assist them in their workplace.
LoopMe by BHA – Assistive Listening Devices
LoopMe by Better Hearing Australia offers a full suite of hearing augmentation solutions to meet all your requirements and are fully compliant with relevant industry standards. From small, portable desktop solutions to large-scale conference room/auditorium installations, LoopMe has you covered. Our service includes:
- Site inspection and system design
- Installation; removal; set-up, and testing; of temporary (portable) hearing loop systems
- Discreet, fully installed systems
- Testing and compliance audits
Contact Us Today for a Grant Discussion to Meet the Application Deadline
BHA encourages tourism operators to review grant guidelines and consider partnering with BHA to make their tourism business more accessible. Businesses can get in touch for an initial discussion and learn how they can benefit from this new grant. Applications close at the end of May.