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BestCities unveil ground-breaking ‘Universal Accessibility in Meetings’ research

BestCities Global Alliance, GainingEdge and Rehabilitation International unveiled new market-leading research into accessible meetings at the ICCA congress in Dubai. The outcomes promote awareness among the meetings community on what can be done to enforce universal accessibility for delegates with disabilities.

The research was conducted with key venues across the globe, in BestCities destinations that have established an enviable reputation as leading cities for hosting meetings and business events. Each city provided insight on what they’re doing to create a landscape that’s ‘accessible for all.’

The report highlights some best practises in areas that operators may not have prior considered, such as training for disability awareness and sensitivity training, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for handling requests involving participants with disabilities, and referring to standards concerning accessibility as guidelines. Introducing mandatory training sessions with frontline staff, setting operational accessibility manuals with procedures and regulations to work from, and referring to the standards laid out by the Community Development Authority are examples of how venues can meet the needs of all delegates.

The study details how universal accessibility in the meetings industry means contribution to business growth, knowledge sharing, an improved experience and increasing competitiveness in destinations. It explains how many people will benefit from these provisions in venues including the aging population, parents with prams, and those with reduced mobility. With an increasing number of venues putting this into practice means the inclusion of participants with disabilities and more diverse opportunities for businesses.

The report makes a number of recommendations including self-education, establishing a tangible business case for accessible meetings, and universal accessibility certification. It also provides case studies on how each of the 12 BestCities destinations are promoting accessibility in their regions. Knowledge transfer like this is core to the BestCities Global Alliance mission to deliver exceptional standards in world meeting, conference and destination management.

Another outcome of the research was that more associations should consider incorporating accessibility clauses in their Request for Proposals, and that it should be a key requirement for venues to accommodate barrier-free accessibility for all delegates. In certain cases, planners should work directly with local host committees to make sure that training, especially for frontliners, will be provided, and full inclusion is ensured.

Jeannie Lim, Chair of BestCities Global Alliance, said: “It is our intention that BestCities bureaus, as partners of the world’s leading convention bureau alliance, will trailblaze the way for other destinations around the world to make significant improvements in universal accessibility.”

Venus Ilagan, Secretary General of Rehabilitation International, said: “Destinations should look into the concept of universal design. Universal design should be looked at from the beginning, not an after-thought.”

Gary Grimmer, CEO of GainingEdge, said: “At GainingEdge, we recognise that building an understanding of the broader issues of delegate accessibility will encourage the industry to cater better for people who have a range of needs.”

The report also offers some recommendations on how bureaus, suppliers and meeting planners can do their part to promote universal accessibility in the meetings industry.

The Universal Accessibility in Meetings report can be downloaded here: www.bestcities.net/universal-accessibility-in-meetings/