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Accessibility on Tourist Excursions in Ontario

Currently, no AODA standards require tourism to be accessible. However, the Third Review of the AODA recommends the creation of standards mandating accessibility in tourism. In this article, we will outline possible guidelines for accessibility on tourist excursions in Ontario.

Accessibility on Tourist Excursions in Ontario

The AODA’s Transportation Standards currently contain accessibility guidelines for Ontario’s public transit systems, including:

  • City buses
  • Motor coaches
  • Trains, such as:
  • Subways
  • Light rail
  • Commuter rail
  • Inter-city rail
  • Streetcars
  • Taxis
  • Ferries

These guidelines include:

AODA standards in tourism could apply similar guidelines and technical requirements to vehicles used for tourist excursions, such as:

  • Tour buses
  • Boats
  • Airplanes
  • Helicopters

For instance, tourism standards could require ramps or lifts on all new tour buses. Likewise, the standards could require wide aisles on airplanes to accommodate travellers’ assistive devices or service animals. Similarly, tourism standards could implement guidelines for audible and visual announcements on all vehicles used for tourist excursions. For example, excursions often include tour guides providing commentary on passing sites of interest. Tour guides usually project their voices using sound systems. However, this commentary could also be displayed visually. Moreover, assistive listening systems in tour vehicles could improve some travellers’ access to the audio commentary.

Like many public transit companies, companies offering tourist excursions may be unable to retrofit vehicles or invest in new ones. Therefore, companies could be required to implement other changes to their services, to enhance accessibility. For example, a company may not provide lifts or ramps on their vehicles. However, staff could assist travellers to board and deboard. Staff could receive training to implement these accommodations. This training could be comparable to the training that transit drivers receive to assist travellers in situations where accessibility equipment on their vehicles malfunctions.

In short, AODA standards in tourism could apply current guidelines from the Transportation Standards, to expand the accessibility of tourist excursions throughout the province.