The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa launched the long awaited Universal Accessibility Grading Scheme at the Tourism Indaba recently. The scheme will help establishments to understand and address the accessibility requirements of travellers with mobility, hearing and visual impairments.
600 Million people around the world are disabled in some way (2.2 million in South Africa), and 5% of these frequently travel overseas. With the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup approaching, disabled travellers represent an important sector. Tourism establishments can now apply for an optional accessibility rating when they apply for their 1-5 star grading. The rating scheme has three categories (mobility, hearing and visual) each with four levels from bronze to platinum. Criteria assessed include non-slip surfaces, ramps, tiling, carpeting, door openings, signage letter size, phone lights and voice amplification. The rating is reviewed annually.
The Grading Council has also introduced a disability Sensitivity Training Programme for front-line hospitality staff. The scheme was mandated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and received cooperation from the QuadPara Association of South Africa, National Council for Disabled, SA Council for the Blind and Deaf Federation of SA. The scheme has been endorsed by SANParks, City Lodge Group, Legacy Hotels, Southern Sun and Protea hotels.