Hand Cycling at Point Nepean National Park

Last Thursday we joined Parks Victoria for a preliminary handcycle trial at Melbourne's Point Nepean National Park. The aim was to trial a handcycle on Coles Track and Defence Road from the Information Centre through to the bike limit at Fort Pearce.

Parks Victoria is embarking on developing a trail grading system to guide potential handcycle riders on the suitability of selected trails in a number of National Parks. The system will grade trails in a similar manner to walking and ski trails based on length, gradient and sustained climbing/descent.

The maps presented here our own interpretation if anyone wants to trial or visit Point Nepean over the summer break. It will be backed up by the comprehensive system Parks Victoria are developing.

We have used a 3 grade system:

Green - Easy, gentle gradients, wide hard surfaced trail.
Blue - Intermediate, good use of gears and braking control required
Black - Difficult, extended long climbs exceed 5oo metres. Good fitness required skilled use of gears and braking control





The cycling track extends from the Information Centre to the bike limit at Fort Pearce following Coles Track.

Coles Track passes the Quarantine Station on a wide smooth hard packed gravel surface. The slope is gradual. The distance from the Information Centre to Observatory Point is 1.2 kilometres. From Observatory Point the trail continues a further 1.1 kilometres where it joins Defence Road at the Cheviot Hill bus stop. For an easy round trip, Defence Road can then be followed back to Gunners Cottage and then past the cemetery to Observatory Point and back to the Information Centre. The total round trip is 5 km.




Beyond the Cheviot Hill bus stop, the trail follows Defence Road. The surface is bitumen. 
The gradient increases significantly from the Cheviot Hill bus stop with prolonged climbing. There are two stretches of prolonged steep gradients that approach 1:6. There is a short descent followed by the last long steep climb to Fort Pearce. For those willing to make the effort the views are stunning, both over Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay. The old gun emplacement can be viewed by handcycle.

The total length of this section is 2.2 kilometres.




Accessible toilets are available at the Quarantine Station and Gunners Cottage. It should be noted that the toilets at Gunners Cottage are not accessible from a handcycle.

Vehicles are permitted as far as Gunners Cottage which could serve as an alternative starting point for anyone bringing their own handcycle to the park. Starting at Gunners Cottage reduces the overall return journey by 2.4 kilometres.

Parks Victoria is considering adding a handcycle to the bicycle fleet they have at Point Nepean and would like an expression of interest from those who would be interested in using a handcycle if it was available at the park.

If you are interested please complete the survey form on the link below.


Complete Survey

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Accor Hotels "Smart Room"

The 'Smart Room', a room concept that revolutionizes accessibility standards

Accor Hotels is using technology and design, to redefine the concept of an accessible hotel room. Gone are the clinical, hospital like rooms and in is clever Universal Design to create a stylish and practical solution that treats all guest on an equal footing. It is combined with modern technology to control the rooms functions including window blinds, height adjustable beds, lighting and adjustable wardrobes.

Damien Perrot, SVP Design Solutions at AccorHotels explains,

“With this concept, our goal is to inspire the hotel market by introducing a new approach to the PRM room, which is often unoccupied, not very welcoming, and stigmatizing... We have envisioned a room for everyone, with design and creativity adhering to PRM standards and practices to the point that they disappear to the benefit of emotion and sensorial experience. 

This innovation can be tailored to all our brands in all segments. It reflects the Group's desire to pave the way towards positive hospitality and to respond to the concerns and requirements of all our guests”.

The innovations featured in this room which can accommodate up to 3 people include:
  • a connected tablet to adjust the light and music (Devialet Phantom loudspeaker) to create the perfect atmosphere, close curtains, tilt the headboard and control audiovisual equipment
  • a wardrobe with sliding shelves and rods for easy access to clothes
  • LED lighting with footboard motion sensor facilitating movement at night
  • a television positioned on a 180° swivel panel
  • a bathroom equipped with an easily adjustable showerhead, a folding and adjustable shower seat, a height-adjustable washbasin (70 to 90 cm), designer grab bars doubling as towel rails, etc. (7
  • sleep aids, including Dodow, a luminous metronome that promotes both concentration and sleep, or Dreem, a headband with integrated brain energy sensors and a relaxation system
  • customizable olfactory atmospheres with Sensorwake, for a gentle awakening to the aromas of either coffee, tea, sea breeze... as well as shower capsules perfumed with essential oils created by Skinjay.

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Airbnb is Making Travel More Accessible

Image: Airbnb

Airbnb introduces new features and partnerships to support travelers with disabilities.

Following from the announcement of the acquisition of Accomable, Airbnb are introducing new search criteria to aid in finding accessible accommodation. In addition they are introducing new guides and criteria to help hosts present information that will allow potential guests to determine if any particular accommodation is suitable to their needs. It is the first mainstream rollout of "Accessibility Guides" and recognises that the accessible tourism market is made up of a vast array of varying needs. This is an example of treating accessible tourism as a product and not just an access requirement.

The new features allow hosts to designate whether their listings have step-free entry to rooms, entryways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and more. The features help hosts be descriptive about their home’s accessibility, and give guests the clear information they need to find the right home for them. We’ve already begun to roll out this new feature to allow guests to search based on accessibility criteria that is important to them on the web, and Apple iOS and Android will follow over the next few months.

Read Airbnb's full press release:

Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and that includes travelers with disabilities. While we have rules that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and an Open Doors policy that helps ensure everyone can find a place to stay, it’s clear that we can do more to effectively serve people with disabilities. We’ve had insightful and humbling conversations with travelers and disability advocacy groups like the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) and the California Council of the Blind (CCB) where we heard stories, gained perspective, and learned what we can do better. Today, we’re announcing some new features that will make our community more accessible and the acquisition of a new company that will help us accelerate our work. 

First, we are happy to announce that we have acquired Accomable and will be welcoming them into the Airbnb family. Accomable was founded in 2015, by Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley – two friends with Spinal Muscular Atrophy who have travelled all over the world. Frustrated by the difficulty of finding accessible places to stay and reliable information, Accomable was launched to make it easier for everyone to travel, regardless of disability.

The Accomable site will be wound down over the coming months and we will work to include Accomable’s listings in more than 60 countries on Airbnb. All of these listings have step-free access, high quality photos and detailed information on a whole range of accessibility adaptations. Perhaps more importantly, Srin and his team will be bringing their tremendous expertise and passion for inclusive travel to Airbnb. As part of the Airbnb team, Srin will lead our efforts to make travel accessible for everyone.

Srin and his team will be building on work that is underway to make the Airbnb experience better for everyone. Previously, travelers with disabilities could only search for homes that were labeled as “wheelchair accessible” when they were searching for an accessible place to stay. Guests weren’t getting the information they needed to find the right homes, nor the confidence that the home they selected would actually be accessible for them.

To help address this problem, we have been working on new “accessibility needs” checklists for hosts. While Srin and his team haven’t been involved in the development of these new tools, we’re confident that they will make our community more accessible for everyone and we’re going to work to make them even stronger in the future.

The new features allow hosts to designate whether their listings have step-free entry to rooms, entryways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and more. The features help hosts be descriptive about their home’s accessibility, and give guests the clear information they need to find the right home for them. We’ve already begun to roll out this new feature to allow guests to search based on accessibility criteria that is important to them on the web, and Apple iOS and Android will follow over the next few months.

We want everyone to know a little more about how we created these filters and some of the other work we’ve already done to make Airbnb more accessible. You can read more about the work to craft these new tools here.

We’ve also worked diligently to make our website and app easy to use for everyone. We started by asking Level Access (formerly SSB Bart) to perform audits across our digital platforms (iOS, Android, Web). Those audits made clear that we have work to do, and while we’re nowhere near done, we have made progress. In the last year, we have:

Created a dedicated team of engineers and designers whose sole focus is to help ensure our community is accessible for everyone.

Improved the color contrast and added labels to icons on our site and app to make them easier to read.

Redesigned text. Some parts of our site included text on top of images. This text can be difficult to read, so we’ve taken steps to redesign those elements.

Established training seminars and regular educational initiatives to ensure all engineers and designers understand how to build products that everyone can use. 

Partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to run research studies that will inform our future work on these topics.

All of these improvements are important, but they alone aren’t the solution: they are the start of an ongoing conversation and we’re committed to doing more. We’re looking forward to implementing quicker and easier ways for hosts to update their homes’ accessibility information, and hope to increase guests’ confidence that these homes will fit their needs. And we’ll continue to do all we can to ensure our platform and our community are open and accessible to everyone.


About TravAbility

TravAbility was founded in 2007 by Bill Forrester.

Our mission is to be agents of change; to inspire people who have never traveled before to do so, and to inspire others to do more. To encourage all cultures of the world to see disability as an integral part of life, and to provide the motivation and tools to the tourism industry to allow them to create accessible environments that enable inclusion in an economically sustainable way.

We offer a range of services to tourism operators and Destination Marketing Boards to enable them to take advantage of the growing Accessible Tourism market. Our core approach is program oriented focusing on the product and service needs of people with a disability an developing a culture of innovation to attract this highly profitable and rapidly growing market:

  • Development of Access Statements
  • Product, service and program development
  • Development of 'Soft Infrastructure' policies and procedures
  • Staff and Management Training
  • Marketing Services and Toolkits
  • Access information kits
  • Industry Presentations and Conference Keynotes and Capacity Building Workshops
  • Property Audits and Universal Design planning
  • Self Audit Tools
  • National/State/Regional Park Guides and Trail Maps
  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategy development
  • Disability Action Plans
  • New Project planning and Development
  • Stock Imagery through PhotoAbility
  • Accommodation listings through TravAbility Properties

For more information on how you can make your business more attractive to the traveler with a disability contact Bill.


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Mt Martha Beach Matting Trial

On Saturday the 26th of November the new accessible beach matting was laid out at the Mt Martha lifesaving club and the beach officially opened.  Mt Martha is situated on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula, which is the summer aquatic playground for the city. This is the first beach on the Mornington Peninsula and only the third in the City, to offer accessible beach facilities for people with a disability including full accessible change facilities and now beach matting to the waters edge.

In addition to the matting and change room there are three types of beach wheelchair available from the lifesaving club, including a self propelled chair and a a fully floating one.

Mt Martha is a relatively sheltered beach and safe for people with a disability to get back into the water including young children. In front of the club house is a large concrete hard stand with shade.

The matting will be rolled out from now until April 26 next year.

Hours: Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm.

The matting has been made possible by the Mornington Peninsula Shire, Mt Martha Lifesaving Club and the Mornington Peninsula Disabled Surfers Association.

Mt Martha is an hour from the CBD of Melbourne so get down there and take advantage of this new facility. Th more support it gets, the more likely it will be that other beaches on the Peninsula will be made available.

The other two accessible beaches in Melbourne are located at Williamstown and Altona.


Cutting the ribbon


Matting to the water's edge


Beach matting


A cake fit for the occasion 


Change room


Testing the matting


At the water's edge


Enjoying the day


Councilor Antonella Celi cutting the cake


Images for use in editorials or blogs are availably from Photoability's news feed.


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New all terrain wheelchair gives everyone access to Dandenong Ranges National Park

Continuing the successful Trailrider program, Parks Victoria has introduced its newest power-assist model at Grant's Picnic Ground in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. All visitors to Dandenong Ranges National Park will now be able to enjoy trails in the park. 

A modified version of a Canadian invention, the motorised TrailRider, was created by Parks Victoria and is the first of its kind in the world. 

TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs are a cross between a rickshaw and a wheelchair and can handle more rugged bush trails where conventional wheelchairs cannot go. 

Hardy Gully

The motor on the chair makes it easier to manoeuvre the chair over rough trail surfaces and makes it easier for visitors with mobility limitations to access steeper and longer trails than ever the before. The new model can be easily handled with two helpers to drive and balance the chair making it ideal for families or small groups of friends.

“Everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits of being in nature and we want to help everyone to be active in our parks. This is just one way we are making this possible,” said John Kenwright, Community Inclusion Coordinator, Parks Victoria.


“The TrailRider really opens up park areas that people with limited mobility may never have been able to see or experience.”

The TrailRider has recently been trialled by a YMCA Recreation camp in the Dandenong Ranges for children with disabilities. Having a TrailRider based in the Dandenong Ranges will make it much easier for the YMCA , other organisations and individuals to regularly access a TrailRider chair to explore parks. 

The TrailRider is located at Grants on Sherbrooke café at Grants Picnic Area in Mount Dandenong National Park. It can be booked by calling 
03 9755 2888

Key facts

  • For work on improving access to parks, including making TrailRiders available, Parks Victoria last week won a 2015 National Disability Award.
  • TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs are just one of the facilities and programs supported by Parks Victoria to ensure parks are accessible to everyone. 
  • There are now 11 TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs available to explore Victoria’s park trails. 
  • Trained volunteers from the Sherpa Volunteer program are available in the Grampians National Park to assist visitors with disabilities to explore the many spectacular park trails using the TrailRider chairs. 
  • There are now ten child and adult beach wheelchairs available to explore Victoria’s coastal parks.   
  • Thirty eight of Victoria’s most visited parks now have more comprehensive park access information provided to help visitors plan their park visit and park activities.  
  • For more information about accessible facilities in Victoria’s parks go to www.parks.vic.gov.au/visit/improving-park-access-for-all  

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Indoor Service Animal/Pet Relief Room Opens at O'Hare International Airport

CHICAGO, October 20, 2015 - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announces the opening of an indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare International Airport.

Located past security checkpoints in the Rotunda area of Terminal 3, the room is specially designed to accommodate passengers traveling with service animals or pets. It is particularly convenient for those with layovers/connecting flights at O'Hare. It will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with disabilities because they no longer need to pass back through security to relieve their service animal.

The recently-opened indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare is located just north of the Rotunda in Terminal 3.

The room has two, 2-foot by 4-foot pet relief areas complete with artificial grass covering, miniature fire hydrants and pop-up sprinkler systems to wash away liquid waste into a drain. In addition, a mounted hose bib and reel is available for manual spraying and plastic bags are provided for clean-up. The room is enclosed, has a door with a glass pane that opens and closes automatically, and is designed for wheelchair access. The room also includes two sinks for passenger use.

"We are pleased to offer this new amenity for passengers, especially those who depend on the assistance of service animals when they travel through our airport," said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. "This is another way we are making O'Hare International Airport more accessible to the traveling public and creating a more welcoming environment for visitors to Chicago."

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

The CDA coordinated with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to ensure the room is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

"The new indoor animal relief area located in the secured terminal of O'Hare International Airport will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with service animals, particularly those with connecting flights," said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley. "This feature is another step towards our goal of making Chicago a world class accessible city for people with disabilities."

In addition to the new airside animal relief room, there are three outdoor service animal/ pet relief areas located near the lower level curb front of Terminals 1, 2 and 5. The Terminal 1 and 5 outdoor locations were opened in 2009 and the Terminal 2 location was added in 2014. Midway International Airport also has an outdoor service animal and pet relief area located near the lower level curb front at the north end of the terminal that opened in 2009.

Real grass, gravel or wood chips are used inside the fenced-in areas and plastic bags and garbage cans are provided. CDA and custodial staff monitor the areas throughout the day to ensure cleanliness.

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VisitEngland launches Access for All campaign

VisitEngland, the national tourist board, is today launching a new Access for All campaign, aimed to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, informing disabled people of accommodation and visitor attractions when planning a day trip or holiday.

Following a successful pilot project in 2013/14 with four destinations; VisitEngland accessed funding from the European Commission to expand the Access for All initiative, with a grant of €125,000. For the past year VisitEngland has been working with seven local destination partners across the country to create a series of access guides covering coastal, countryside and city destinations. These are:

  • Visit Kent
  • Marketing Birmingham
  • Visit Lincoln
  • Northumberland Tourism
  • Visit Peak District and Derbyshire
  • Experience Nottinghamshire
  • Visit Brighton

56 businesses are involved in the project including a mix of accommodation and attractions such as Lincoln Cathedral, Brighton & Hove Buses, Chatsworth House, Turner Contemporary, Hotel La Tour, Vindolanda Roman Fort and Nottingham Belfry amongst many others. The businesses involved have worked hard to make changes – focusing on positive action – to improve perceptions of Accessible England.

VisitEngland research highlights that the overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3billion to the English economy, with day visits bringing the figure up to £12.1 billion. Over the past few years overnight trips by disabled travellers and their companions have increased by 19 per cent with spend up by 33 per cent. 

The Purple Pound presents tourism businesses and destinations with a huge opportunity for economic growth. New figures from VisitEngland confirm an approximate value of overnight accessible tourism to the destinations involved:

  • Kent: £60m
  • Birmingham: £50m
  • Lincoln: £9m
  • Northumberland: £65m
  • Derbyshire: £45m
  • Nottinghamshire: £30m
  • Brighton and Hove: £14m

Some of the great initiatives include those introduced by Brighton & Hove Buses (part of the Go-Ahead group) which provides wheelchair access to 100 per cent of their fleet. They are trialling the use of hearing loop systems on a bus; have a Helping Hand yellow card scheme; offer a wheelchair taxi guarantee if someone cannot get onto the bus and have many innovations to help disabled visitors use their buses.

VisitEngland Chief Executive, James Berresford, said: 

"The accessible tourism market is worth a sizable £12.1 billion to the English economy and many tourism businesses are realising that catering for disabled customers is not only a necessity but a wise investment that brings a host of business benefits. Many of the changes businesses make may be small, but combined contribute significantly to the visitor experience." 


The Access for All project has consisted of two phases: product development, where businesses receive direct support to improve their accessibility with the help of access advisors, and a national consumer marketing campaign launching today. The tourism businesses are being directly supported as part of the project to improve their accessibility. Accommodation and attractions have been audited by a professional access advisor and many have received a mystery visit from guests with accessibility requirements. A training course was held in each destination for accessibility champions and customer-facing staff have completed online disability awareness training. Businesses also received personal feedback on their Access Statement, improving information detailing their accessibility.

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Australian First in Museum Access for Deaf Australians at the National Sports Museum

“Smart Auslan” Technology Developed by the Australian Communication Exchange

Deaf and hearing impaired Australians can now enjoy Australia’s first onsite access to Auslan and caption services at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne. The “Smart Auslan” technology was developed by not‐for‐profit organisation, Australian Communication Exchange (ACE), over an 18‐month partnership with the museum.
While hundreds of museums across Australia offer audio tours, only the National Sports Museum now offers the equivalent service for Deaf and hearing impaired Australians to gain easy access to the same information through a smartphone device.
Up until now, Deaf Australians have had to either pay for their own Auslan interpreter, or wait for a scheduled Auslan tour to fully appreciate the cultural experiences on offer at museums. With Smart Auslan on their device, they can now freely decide when and how they would like to visit museums adopting the technology.




“The Smart Auslan project with the National Sports Museum is a breakthrough in exhibition accessibility for Deaf and hearing impaired Australians,” said Sandy Gilliland, ACE Chief Executive Officer. “This partnership is part our ongoing commitment to deliver quality‐of‐life services today that will provide equal access to Deaf Australians. We see this as the first of many museums and galleries that will look to further cultural access for all Australians, by opening their doors wider for the Deaf and hearing impaired communities.”
Each year, approximately 150,000 people visit the National Sports Museum and listen to audio descriptions of iconic exhibitions. Smart Auslan provides Deaf and hearing impaired Australians with the same access to the museum display descriptions in Auslan sign language videos that can be accessed by scanning Quick Response (QR) codes with Android‐powered smartphones.
The museum will have six Android devices located for visitors to use or alternatively the application can be downloaded onto an Android smartphone from the ACE website.
Margaret Birtley, General Manager for the National Sports Museum: “This is such an exciting initiative and we are thrilled to be part of the launch of Smart Auslan in Australia. We are sure this new technology will provide our deaf and hearing impaired visitors with a more engaging experience at the National Sports Museum.”
ACE is a not‐for‐profit organisation which, for 16 years, has been at the forefront of communication solutions for Deaf, hearing impaired and speech impaired Australians. The organisation is constantly looking for new ways to meet the changing communication needs of its communities. Today’s technology and high speed internet makes it possible to design these new access tools that will overcome significant barriers for signing Deaf Australians. ACE is experienced in designing, delivering and promoting new communication solutions for this group. Our vision is Access to Communication for Everyone and we will continue to provide resources and expertise in this sector so our vision can be achieved.



About Australian Communication Exchange (ACE)
Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) is a national not‐for‐profit community organisation. ACE was established to facilitate equity of access to the telecommunications network for people who are Deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment.
For further information about the Smart Auslan project with the National Sports Museum please visit www.smartauslan.com.au or email info@smartauslan.com.au or phone 1300 133 968.

Background information when reporting about Deaf and hearing impaired Australians
There is a difference between capital “D” Deaf Australians and deaf or hearing impaired. Australians who use Auslan sign language as their first and preferred language identify with themselves as belonging to the Deaf community. Usually, this group have been deaf since birth or early childhood and were taught to sign at an early age. Auslan is recognised as a community language other than English, so for Deaf Australians learning English is akin to learning a second language.
Hearing impaired or hard of hearing people have either lost their hearing later in life or as children but followed an auditory‐oral approach. The children develop English speaking and listening skills with their residual hearing and do not usually use Auslan.
Smart Auslan is accessible to both these groups because the museum information has been translated into both Auslan sign language and English captions.

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