NATIVE Hotels & Accessible Tourism
A Spanish journalist discovered, thanks to an interview to a blind girl on the radio, that blind people can also surf the Internet. From this day on he decided not to write for everyone but not for them, and he created the Association NATIVE Tourism For All, an NGO, a club of responsible hotels with a first web platform accessible for everyone in 6 languages designed together with the Spanish National Association for the Blind.
Since 2010 we detected several obvious deficiencies in customer care for older people or people with disabilities in hotels and other tourism services.
Some of these lacks are flagrant and certainly don´t respect the laws of Equality. Let us give you an example presenting a riddle. In the upper floor of a hotel there is a deaf customer. Four in the morning, fire alarm. How can we wake the deaf client before he burns to death. This deficiency is not resolved in almost any hotel in the world. A few have a hard pillow vibrator, but the customer can have laid his head on the opposite end of the pillow. Some have a 3 hundred watt light bulb but a powerful light is not a guarantee to wake a client soundly asleep.
To solve this in our hotels we are testing and implementing with the observations of the British/Spanish NGO Oír es Clave (To hear is the key) the WiiM watch, a wristwatch developed by Hearing Software connected to several sensors that generate a strong vibration and a message on the screen in case of fire alert, gas leak, door knock or doorbell and it issues short messages like whatsapps from the reception to the client.
An extra solution for clients with deafness is the use of a personalized avatar developed by SignLab for sending welcoming messages or general information, as in the case of airplanes.
Another universal lack is the information gap towards clients with blindness or low vision. In 2010 we proposed to Puntodis to create a Braille and Embossed Signal Pack for Hotels, to identify elements such as which are the taps for cold or hot water, to avoid wasting water and time. Also to identify in which position to insert the magnetic key in the door, where to find a plug in the wall to charge the mobile phone, which is the door of the Womens bathroom and which not, what drinks and snacks are in the minibar, which is the shampoo and which the bodymilk dispenser and so on…
Also for customers with blindness or low vision we have orientation plans embossed and in Braille, which they can keep during their stay.
And also for them -and to avoid printing restaurant menus in 12 languages and Braille twice a year- we offer the Chef’s Voice vocal menu through a QR code, also designed by Puntodis, including a filter of allergens helping us to choose the right dishes.
In the chapter of out-of-the-ordinary accessibility we must highlight the work carried out with the Hotel Kasbah Dar Daïf in Morocco to allow the trekking activity in the desert for elderly or disabled customers thanks to a special wheelchair attached to the back of a dromedary. At this time we developed a tilting system to keep the horizontal position of chair and passenger in the moments in which the dromedary rises and sits.
But perhaps the most forgotten chapter of accessibility by the tourism industry is the first step in the chain, the information about the destination, in the Internet, from our PC at home. To allow access to users with some limitation we have been working with a team of Spanish computer engineers for the last four years.
And NATIVE has evolved from the first tool in 6 languages with W3C protocol to a new one in which W3C standards are complemented by the revolutionary InSuit system, that has already deserved in July 2017 the Award Queen Letizia of Technologies for Accessibility. Now we can surf even being blind, speechless and without any mobility of the hands at all at once. Without seeing the screen, without touching the keyboard and without speaking to the computer we can surf by blows, sounds or touching any key as substitutes of the click of the mouse. Remember that a simple Parkinsons puts us out of the market.
We also add color change of the wallpaper and text to improve the contrast for users with low vision or color blindness. And we increase the body of the text 8 times in case we have forgotten our glasses, for example.
And something very important of the InSuit system: is not an accessibility resource that we have to install in our PC. It is a tool that lives on the web, is free and does not require to buy any peripherals, but admits them for those who want to add their specific advantages. Because InSuit respects the W3C parameters. And we can fully complete the process of a hotel reservation by giving our credit card number. Thus, 500 million customers are not excluded from the game.
Although we already have our own booking engine with channel manager and PMS for hotel management, developed with engineers of Telefónica, we would also need to dress with InSuit a global booking platform to accelerate our expansion. Let´s talk.
A main conclusion of the 1st Global Summit Destinations For All, held in Montreal in 2014, was “We need global tools”. In spite of our lack of resources we need to expand our network of only 60 hotels in only 5 countries into a worldwide platform. The cost for this expansion is a ridiculous amount and we are looking for a company to be the sponsor of the first accessible and global tool of history before the end of 2017. That´s our priority today because 500 million people, in the twenty-first century, are still waiting for the end of this apartheid.