With an estimated one billion people living with a disability around the globe, accessible tourism is rightfully becoming a growing area of priority. While there is still a long way to go before we exist in a truly disability-friendly world, the good news is that Sydney has joined cities such as Amsterdam, London and Singapore on Valuable 500's list of the Top 10 Most Accessible Cities in the World – as voted by 3,500 disabled tourists.
Sydney was highly rated for its wheelchair accessibility, with many of the Emerald City's main landmarks, restaurants and entertainment venues catering for wheelchair users. Blind and vision-impaired visitors can also navigate the CBD via more than 2,100 tactile and Braille street signs implemented as part of the Legible Sydney Wayfinding System. Nearly half of the respondents voted for Sydney because of our accessible public transport links, and nearly as many cited accessible accommodation close to cultural attractions, shops and restaurants as a reason for their vote.
Although the ranking is fantastic news, accessibility in Sydney is far from perfect. New and renovated buildings must legally cater for wheelchair access, but many older heritage buildings still remain inaccessible. Additionally, many venues have a single step at the entrance, or don't have an accessible bathroom. In short, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
"We understand it is important for our destinations, products and services to be accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age," said Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison. "We look forward to working with our industry to support initiatives in this space."