Tag Archives: accessible travel

When Seable took on Thailand – Accessible Holidays for Blind and Visually Impaired

Seable has been on an incredibly exciting mission for the last 3 weeks to our new destination; Thailand.

 

The team from Seable that went on this journey was myself Emma, Holiday Tailoress and CEO Damiano La Rocca.  We set out on this trip with one mission…..TO COME BACK WITH AN EXCITING ACCESSIBLE HOLIDAY THAT WE CAN OFFER TO THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMAPIRED.  I, myself could not wait to get started and show all that we had to offer upon our return.

 

ASo here is our story of our trip to Thailand:

 

DAY 1

 

Arriving at Heathrow airport, we sat and went through the incredible itinerary that Nutty adventures had sent us.  They are the fantastic company that are going to show Seable what Thailand had to offer as an accessible destination.

 

ABOUT NUTTY’S ADVENTURE

 

nutty’s adventures

 

Nutty’s Adventures brings together a mixture of high-quality cycling tours, mountain treks and river-based adventures throughout Southeast Asia.

 

Their philosophy is to minimize the environmental and social impact of tourism activities, whilst providing opportunities for visitors to responsibly contribute to the well-being of the local communities.

 

Nutty’s Adventures is a new style of tour operator and a specialist in CBT, Community-Based Tourism. Nutty‘s Adventures offers all types of responsible travel, green eco-adventure activities and volunteer work holidays.

 

Specialize in Community-Based Travel (CBT) that allows tourists to have a closer connection to local people while directly experiencing their lifestyles and cultural traditions.

 

They are a tour operator situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, and their well-trained English-speaking guides will provide you with remarkable experiences that you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life. Nutty’s Adventures offers a wide variety of 3-day excursions and we also love the challenge of organizing unique tailor-made tours for the individual needs of families, charities, businesses and tour groups.

 

So, as you can see in the last sentence, ‘they love the challenge of organising unique tailor-made tours’ and here at Seable we love everything unique tailor-made for our clients.  We set off on our 13-hour flight with anticipation of what was to come over the next three weeks.  We flew with Malaysia air and we both thought the flight was fantastic.  Comfy seats, great food and a brilliant entertainment system including so many audio books/films, the 13 hours flew by-literally.

 

Arriving in Bangkok, it was 9pm there time and we were excited to drop our bags off and see what the city centre had to offer; and it did not disappoint.  The atmosphere was electric with many people fully enjoying what the street food had to offer.  As did we, and we probably got carried away with wanting to try something from every stall. After tasting each delicacy, finally, our bodies were feeling the effects of travelling and we set off to our hotel to get some rest.  We were staying in the Hotel De’Moc and it was lovely, big accessible rooms with a great balcony. Excited with the knowledge that the next day we started our adventure with Nutty and the team we said goodnight.

 

DAY 2

 

Waking up full of excitement we planned our day ready to meet a member of the team at 6pm.  Breakfast in the hotel was great.

 

We wanted to check out Bangkok city in the day time, to see if it is something we can include into our trip for our clients.  It did not disappoint-under the sunshine the little streets were wonderful, the smells of the food cooking in all the little street food stalls mixed with the sound of the street vendors, was something you must experience.  There were also many stalls selling fantastic clothing for super prices and as a girl I can say that I took advantage of this situation and bought some lovely things, including some amazing trousers for only 100 baht-about £2.50.

 

We set off back to the hotel and waited eagerly to meet the team. Nun was the lady who would be spending the next 2 days with us. She went through what we would be doing for the next couple of days and told us what was a must-see in our last evening in Bangkok.  We said bye and set off to Chinatown and personally it was my favourite evening in Bangkok. The atmosphere was electric with lots of people walking around the many streets of Chinatown.  As we walked along, we tried food from as many stalls as we could and it was all so yummy.  After we had eaten way too much food, we got a tuk tuk back to the hotel.  Tuk tuk’s are fantastic for getting around the city quickly, inexpensive and a great experience.

 

 

 

DAY 3

 

Meeting Nun at 8am we had breakfast and then made our way to Bangkok train station.  After a short wait, we boarded to train to Ayutthaya.  The train was a typical Thai train, with big old seats, fans in the ceiling and had many people walking up and down the aisles selling food.  We bought some mango and watched Bangkok pass up by as we travelled for 1 half hours to central Thailand.

 

 

Arriving in Ayutthaya we got in a traditional Tuk Tuk and went to visit Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. The whole place felt incredibly peaceful, with classical music being played through speakers throughout the grounds, birds singing and the sound of the water.

 

After the Palace, we took the tuk tuk to Baan Koh Kerd and had a village tour, trying out local delicacies and meeting the community.  It was amazing to get to experience their way of life.

 

Seable Thailand Blind Visually Impaired Holiday

 

That evening we stayed in a Homestay that was located on the river.  It was a very traditional house on stilts, that had basic amenities but was perfect for what we needed.  The owner of the home made us a wonderful traditional dinner and we ate it on the terrace overlooking the river.

 

To be continued…..

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Discover Accessible Munich

Make Way For Munich: The Most Accessible City in Europe?

Now is the perfect time of year to take a European city break: the lull between Christmas and spring tends to be one of the quietest times for tourists to travel overseas, and the chilly weather is perfect for wrapping up warm, exploring those famous sites, and drinking hot chocolate on bustling promenades. Thinking of taking a last-minute city break this winter but unsure of where you want to go? You may be lured by the romance of Paris, but its old and dated metro system is an accessibility nightmare (the same can sadly be said for London’s underground) and the cobbled streets of Rome are a nightmare if you are travelling in a heavy electric wheelchair. That doesn’t mean that these cities aren’t accessible with a little planning, but they might not be the ideal first choice for a last minute break. For an easy and hassle free accessible break, why not discover accessible Munich? Its old world charm is coupled with the kind of German efficiency that makes accessible travel here a breeze:

 

Accessible Public Transport

Discover Accessible Munich

Discover Munich’s accessible bus

 

Unlike most other European cities, most than 90% of the underground system in Munich is completely accessible, with access to the stations being entirely barrier free. Whilst the system isn’t extensive (comprising of two lines: the U Bahn (urban line) or S Bahn (suburban line) it goes to all of the major sites you would wish to visit and is a perfectly adequate and affordable way of getting around for a long weekend. If you wish to travel somewhere that is not accessible via the underground trains then the Munich public transport system also features buses and trams. All of the buses in the city are accessible via ramps to the rear doors. The tram system is currently undergoing a modernisation process, so not all of the trams are accessible, but approximately 50% of them are (so far) so if you need to get somewhere on a tram route then it is possible, if slightly inconvenient, to just wait until an accessible tram arrives. Getting around in Munich is perfectly possible then, but where should you be getting around to?

 

Interesting and Enjoyable Attractions

Augustiner – Keller. Discover Accessible Munich

 

Munich is an ancient city at the heart of Germany, and one with a rich history, meaning that there are plenty of tourist attractions worth visiting. The famous BMW museum and factory makes for a fascinating visit, and is proud to be fully accessible, as is the Olympic Park: host of the 1972 Olympic games which were sadly largely overshadowed by what is now known as the Munich Massacre.  If you are interested in exploring the darker period of German history, under Nazi rule, then you can reach the Dachau concentration camp (the first camp the Nazi’s built) via accessible transportation, and the historic site is also largely accessible when you arrive. Less interested in history and more interested in fun? Munich is infamous for being home to over 400 different beerhalls, and the vast majority of these are proud to be fully accessible. For ease and convenience, why not try the Augustinekeller, which is situated right next door to the central station, and is fully accessible.

 

Perfectly Practical Considerations

Discover Accessible Munich

E111 Card

 

Of course, disabled travellers also need to consider the practical aspects of their breaks, including the availability of decent healthcare, should something go wrong, and the accessibility of the airport. The healthcare in Germany is highly regarded as being amongst the best in the world, and whilst it is always recommended that you travel with your own health insurance (particularly when you have pre-existing conditions) our membership of the European Union (for as long as that lasts) means that with a valid E111 card, your treatment here is free.  And as for the airport? Well it’s time to think of that clichéd German efficiency again, because Munich airport is fully accessible and boasts a wide array of excellent transport links into the city, making it easy for travellers with accessibility concerns  to take a last minute trip without having to spend hours worrying about how they will get from A to B. So, Discover Accessible Munich!
“This is an article sent in by Sally Dacre”

Trip to Iceland for Visually Impaired

Holidays for partially sighted and blind travellers.

We have just returned from one of the best trip of the year and possibly in the history of Seable.

Let’s hear it from the participants:

Stacey: I had such an amazing time in Iceland. Did amazing things, saw amazing sights and met amazing people! Thanks for making a great time lovelies ❤️.

Warren: Last week I had an absolutely fantastic time in Iceland, a really beautiful, unique and strange country, on a Victa Milton Keynes trip with a group of people who gelled fantastically well, it was a pleasure spending the week with them. I have had so many unforgettable experience is, being absolutely drenched and freezing cold on Europe’s largest glacier, on a day when most other ttreks were cancelled, visiting some spectacular scenery and landscapes such as going behind a waterfall, visiting what must be the worlds largest warm, outdoor bath, the blue lagoon, smelling lots of smelly sulphur pits, seeing some active geysers, going to The worlds largest penis museum that did not disappoint me and much more. I was lucky enough to try some unique food, the fermented shark tasted like blue cheese but 100 times more intense, puffin, reindeer burger and much more. It is definitely a country I want to go back to and I went with a group of people I want to keep in touch with

Lucy: My Icelandic adventure with the most amazing people! Can’t thank Victa Milton Keynes and Seable Disabled Holidays enough for this amazing trip! Will never forget some of the beautiful things i’ve seen!

Rachel: Iceland was amazing with the best people <3

Alex: I’m jotting this down in the car on the way back at the airport. It’s been an amazing week in Iceland and seems a shame be over. We’ve seen some of the most amazing sights, and experienced unbelievable adventures. But the thing that’s made this trip is the group we were with. I was asked the other day is it hard to volunteer and when your out with people like this never!
Thank you for having me and letting me join in the fun!

Some shots of the trip:
29

tactile map of iceland

tactile map of iceland

Stress Awareness Month: Happiness, Health and Holidays

April is Stress Awareness Month, and on reading that some of you are probably internally screaming “so what!? I already know I’m stressed, my awareness is part of the problem!” If that is you then the real reason for Stress Awareness Month is even more important, because it’s not just about being aware of stress, but being aware of the impact that stress has on your health and wellbeing.

Damiano wrote about this briefly in his latest Huffington Post blog, and but we thought we’d add to that with a special Stress Awareness Month blog. One that outlines the negative effects stress can have on your health, how stress can be a particular problem for disabled people, and the positive effect holidays and breaks can have in reducing stress and improving your health.

 

The Impact of Stress

The study of stress begins in the 1930’s with Hans Selye, a scientist who realised that most different diseases, restrictions and situations all produced similar symptoms of illness. This adverse response your body has to being put under physical and mental tension became known as stress.

A diagram showing the effects that stress can have on the body

This general description has expanded over the years and we now know that stress can impact numerous different bodily functions. Psychology Today recently wrote about the impact stress can have on the body’s “ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury”, and that it can “make you ill, impact your arteries, disrupt your sleep and even alter your genetic material.”

The reasons for this are varied, for example stress diminishes the ability to fight inflammation as it makes immune cells less sensitive to the hormone that “turns off” inflammation. Stress can also kill neurons and stops neurogenesis – the creation of new brain cells – in the hippocampus. This is why being stressed can impact your memory and creativity. It also impacts sleep as stressed minds don’t shut down to sleep properly, and amongst those who experience ongoing stress, each additional stressor increases the risk of insomnia by 19%. This can become a vicious cycle – you’re stressed so you don’t sleep and your lack of sleep makes you more stressed.

 

Increasing Stress In Society

a diagram highlighting stress in the workplace

These health problems are particularly worrying considering there are numerous studies that suggest levels of anxiety and worry are increasing in our society. For example Dr. David Strayer, a professor of Cognition and Neural Science, claims “Modern multitasking overtaxes brain areas that are involved in suppressing distractions, thinking creatively, and developing a sense of identity.”

This can be seen in the fact that the number of work-related stress incidents in the UK in the year to April 2015 was 440,000, or 1,380 per 100,000 people. In 2014/15 a diagnosis of stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health and 43% of all working days lost due to illness, yet 66% of British employees also said people at their work would be “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to reveal that they were experiencing stress-related illness.

It’s not just adult workers either. Stress is infectious and babies can be stressed from birth, and even be stressed prenatally. Toddlers become stressed with too much TV and not enough play, children sit too many exams at a young age, and teenagers are suffering a new, constant anxiety through social media. Students are also increasingly stressed with increased fees and a struggling job market, with some institutions reporting a 50% increase in students requesting counselling.

 

Disability and Stress

There are also numerous studies that highlight an increase in stress amongst people with disabilities. For example an American survey found that 75% of people experienced ‘extreme’ or ‘significant’ stress during the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. They also reported that seeking appeals when a request is denied can be extremely stressful.

This is being replicated in the UK, with a recent investigation by The Independent finding the government’s reforms to disability benefits are “causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety” to thousands of vulnerable and disabled people. They found that almost a quarter of all people applying for disability benefits encounter serious difficulties, including delays, unfair dismissal of claims and confusion over eligibility.

Austerity has been hitting disabled people particularly hard, but the whole policy has been stressful for a large part of the population. The group Psychologists Against Austerity argue there are five stress-related ‘austerity ailments’ (humiliation and shame, instability and insecurity, isolation and loneliness, being trapped or feeling powerless, and fear and distrust) and cite recent research that suggests a link between the nation’s worsening mental health and the onset of austerity.

Parents of disabled children also report worryingly high levels of stress, with nearly half (47%) of parents of disabled children having to see their GP due to stress and worry, and nearly nine in ten (86%) find it hard to talk about how they are feeling.

 

Holidays and Stress Reduction

two people are having a barbecue in a wooded area. holidays and active breaks in nature have been proven to reduce stress

Psychology Today outline the health benefits of holidays, stating they allow us to “break into the stress cycle, gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines”. Academic Scott McCabe has also done extensive research into the health benefits of social tourism and has argued that the health and psychological benefits of holidays are so great that families should be given financial assistance if they are unable to afford holidays on their own.

These health benefits can be quite extensive. For example an American study of 13,000 middle-aged men found that those who skipped holidays for five years were 30% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off each year. Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. A separate study also found that women who took a holiday once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year.

The type of holiday can also be impactful as a Canadian study found that “active” leisure pursuits and active holidays helped alleviate job stress more than “passive” activities (so our scuba diving and volcano climbing trips are actually better for you than a week by the pool!). This is backed up by Dr. Strayer’s research, as he discovered that just four days backpacking in nature improved people’s creativity by 50%. Furthermore, simply planning a holiday and looking forward to it can help! Researchers from the Netherlands found that most people gain the most pleasure — an eight-week positive mood increase — simply from planning their trip and knowing they have a break coming up.

Some people argue that the health benefits of holidays have been overstated as the positive effects often wear off after a few weeks back in work, and this is true. However this takes a too short term view. Jessica de Bloom, a researcher in health psychology, says  “although the beneficial effects fade out quickly, not having any holidays/vacations would probably be very problematic because the strain would accumulate over time” – and this is supported by the American research into heart disease. Jessica continues that this emphasises we should go on holiday “more frequently in order to keep our levels of health and well-being high”.

Finally taking a break from work can also actually help with productivity. You come back from vacations well rested and able to think creatively and non-linearly, which is when you do your best problem solving. This is emphasised by this Psychology Today article which tells people just returning from holiday to “think carefully about what you are going to put your fresh, valuable mind to”.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Six Accessible Travel Blogs You Need To Read

We’re quite proud of our blog and we love writing it. It’s a great way to connect with our audience, share stories and helpful information, and stay up to date with everything in the world of accessible travel. However, as much as we would like it to, one blog can’t cover everything! And even researching one blog post requires regularly reading numerous accessible travel blogs.

We’re also a big fan of sharing the love here so we’re going to outline our favourite accessible travel blogs for you (blogging about blogs! Meta, we know!). Each one also has a slightly different perspective or area of expertise, whether that be industry knowledge, travel experience or a personal journey. So without any more blogging about blogs, here are the six accessible travel blogs that you need to read!

 

The Geordie Traveller

accessible travel blogs: the geordie traveller

The Geordie Traveller is Anthony, a young man,  unsurprisingly, from Newcastle, who is attempting to visit every country in the world. He writes with real honesty and humour, and gives really interesting first hand accounts of what it is like to travel with a disability (he has a very rare genetic disability that affects every joint in his body), and also makes some very interesting points about the way different cultures treat disability. If you like personal writing then The Geordie Traveller is for you! He’s also running a competition for people to travel free with him, which is a pretty great incentive to read!

What he says:

“I have recently began an audacious mission to set foot (wheel) in every single country in the world – a feat which is rarely achieved by even the most intrepid of explorers, let alone somebody who uses a wheelchair day in, day out. I’m fairly certain this is a challenge which has never been conquered by someone who, in the eyes of society, is considered severely disabled. I’m here to show the world that in some ways disability is just a state of mind.”

 

WheelChairTravel.org

accessible travel blogs: wheelchair travel.org

WheelChairTravel.org is run by John Morris, a 26 year old man who became severely disabled after a car accident. This blog offers his traveling experiences and information about destinations, but what really sets WheelChairTravel apart is their travel resources. If you want to know the how to’s of travelling with a disability, navigating flights, planning, booking hotels etc., this is the place to start. They also have a really useful FAQ’s section and the website is very easy to use and navigate.

What he says:

“After my car accident, I was told that my disability would make travel impossible. That was three years ago, and I have since visited 19 countries and flown more than 300,000 miles – all with one hand, a passport and my power wheelchair!”

 

Martyn Sibley

Martyn Sibley is quite a well known name in the accessible travel industry. He founded Accomable and recently launched the successful Accessible Travel Week. It’s this experience and industry knowledge that sets Martyn’s apart from other accessible travel blogs, he has the business acumen to keep you up to date with all the new developments! It’s not all business though, he also talks about traveling and his own experiences.

What he says:

“I have a ‘live the dream’ message to encourage everyone to enjoy life. No matter how difficult it may be! I blog about my disability, loved ones, health, work, socialising, travelling and personal challenges. I try to capture my dreams, my worries, my progress and my love of life with articles, pictures and videos.”

 

The Bimblers

accessible travel blogs: the bimblers homepage

Bimbling means “travelling slowly, aimslessly and without purpose”, which to my mind also means The Bimblers have the best name out of all these accessible travel blogs. It’s run by Rob and Bridget – Bridget has RA and Rob is her carer – and the website looks great, is easy to navigate, and they write in a really accessible and friendly way. The Bimblers began as a personal journal and has become a blog “about travelling when you’re struggling to travel”. They’re also being on travelling in and around the UK, including things like day trip and restaurant reviews, so if you’re looking to travel a bit closer to home this is the blog for you!

What they say:

“Back in 2014 Bridget’s health deteriorated and I was forced to quit my job to become her full-time carer. Terrified by the thought of sitting at home for the rest of our lives, we developed a plan. The plan was loosely based on a long-held dream of travelling around the UK in a camper van. I say loosely because we don’t own a camper van!”

 

Curb Free With Cory Lee

accessible travel blogs: curb free with cory lee

Curb Free with Cory Lee is another great blog if you want to read stories about traveling the world with a disability. Cory is very well travelled and does some great write ups and guides of the cities he visits all over the world. What really makes him stand out from other accessible travel blogs is the ‘Wheelie Inspiring Interviews’ section (we all love a good pun). He interviews various disabled people from all walks of life, such as fellow travellers, travel company operators and mobility technology companies, to bring a variety of expert opinions and different perspectives to his blog.

What he says:

“I want to share my accessible (and to my dismay, sometimes not so accessible) adventures with you. My life goal is to visit every continent, even Antarctica. I am going to document all of my travels in this blog and hopefully I can inspire you to start rolling around the world.”

 

Hot Wheels Goes

Hot Wheels Goes is run by Amy, and it’s running The Bimblers close for the title of best name! Amy is another personal blogger, writing mainly about her own experiences of travelling. She is an exceptionally honest writer, unafraid of writing about the struggles and difficulties that come with travelling with a disability, including mental health issues. She also writes about her friends and family who help her travel which is another interesting angle!

What she says:

“I’ve got two goals with my blog: One is to regale you with the (sometimes ridiculous) stories of travelling with a disability. I hope that regardless of your experience with disability you’ll find some of these stories amusing, and perhaps that I might make you reconsider some of your views towards disability. My second goal is to try and put together some genuinely useful guides to the places I’ve been for travellers with disabilities.”

 

So those are our favourite accessible travel blogs. Hopefully each one should give you a slightly different angle on accessible travel, but what unites them all is their passion and knowledge. We just hope you don’t like them so much you forget about us!

Remember to share with all your friends who have a passion for accessible travel and do let us know if there are any great accessible travel blogs that we’ve missed!

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Blindfolded Tourism: 5 Attractions That Utilise The Other Senses

At Seable we’re all about proving that disabled and visually impaired people can experience the world in the same way able bodied people can. Scuba diving, off-road driving and climbing the largest active volcano in Europe – there’s no reason why any disabled or visually impaired person can’t do them all if they really want to! There is another type of tourism however that helps people experience something they thought they never would but in a different way. It’s called ‘blindfolded tourism’ and has been growing in popularity. It attempts to help able bodied people understand and experience the world in the way disabled and visually impaired people do.

Here are five blindfolded tourism attractions in Europe that utilise other senses and open people up to new experiences.

 

1. Blind Dining

Dark Dining isn’t a new concept, with the first dark restaurant being opened in Switzerland 1999. Blindekuh (which translates as ‘blind man’s bluff’) was started by a blind clergyman called Jorge Spielmann, who got the idea after guests who dined at his home blindfolded reported enjoying their food more because of it. This is the basic concept of dark dining; the removal of vision enhances the other senses and increases gastronomic pleasure.

Now there are dark dining restaurants all around the world, including one right here in London called Dans le Noir. Dans le Noir serves exquisitely prepared mystery menus inspired by french cuisine, and served in a completely darkened room by blind or visually impaired waiters and waitresses. They promise to take you on a ‘sensory journey’ that helps to re-evaluate our perception of taste and smell, and encourage ‘social conviviality’, where darkness kills shyness and brings an open-minded atmosphere.

 

2. An Invisible Exhibition

The Invisible Exhibition is a company that takes the concept of blind dining, that the removal of vision will enhance other sense, and apply it to more than just a culinary experience. They do still offer ‘invisible’ dining, but you can also try wine tasting and massage, as well as group activities that will test your ability to navigate, communicate and complete tasks as a team.

The various activities are led by visually impaired and blind people and include things like trying to cross a road or choose the right spices when cooking a meal. This sharing of experiences helps fully sighted people appreciate the difficulties of being a visually impaired person, but also recognise the techniques and skills people learn to adapt. The company also partners with local disabled charities and organisations. There are currently Invisible Exhibitions in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, but they promise a UK edition is ‘coming soon’!

 

3. Castle Tours

If you’re ever in the wonderful city of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, a rather unique experience can be had in Křivoklát Castle. The castle itself was built in the thirteenth century as a large, monumental royal structure, but throughout its history it has been burned down and used as a prison. Now it serves as a museum, tourist destination and place for theatrical exhibitions, featuring collections of hunting weapons, Gothic paintings and historical books.

A woman with a blindfold touches an old stone door with a guide. Krivoklat Castle offers a unique blindfolded tourism experience

The castle also serves as a very innovative example of blindfolded tourism. You can choose to go on a unique double tour, once blindfolded and then once again sighted. The blindfolded tour promises to immerse you further than the visual stimuli through cold stone walls “which remember ages”, the “echoing sounds” of old castle halls, and tactile sculptures. The following sighted tour then serves to provide context to your initial sensory experience rather than the other way round, thereby allowing you to completely immerse yourself in the history and gravitas of the castle.

 

4. City Tours

It’s one thing to have a blindfolded tourism experience in a restaraunt or exhibition, or even a castle, but a tour of a whole city is different kettle of fish! That’s exactly what Sensorial Lisbon promises to do however, asking you to imagine what it’s like to ‘rediscover’ the famous and historical Amalfa region of the city; “the narrow streets, the smell of grilled sardines, the sound of a Fado that can be heard from afar and so many others sensorial adventures”.

The tours are run by a blind guide from the Portuguese Association for the Visually Impaired who shares his/her sensory experience, whilst there is also an official Lisbon Walker guide who provides historical context. The project has two main goals, “to provide a sensorial experience which aims to gather new knowledge of the surrounding space through the stimuli of the senses of smell, tact, taste and hearing”, and “to bring awareness to the universe of the visually impaired, not as a limitation but instead in a positive and stimulating note”.

A guide leads blindfolded people down a narrow Lisbon street as part of sensorial lisbon, an innovative blindfolded tourism experience

It’s been successful too, as Sensorial Lisbon made Springwise’s top ten international chart for new ideas for tourism services, which really shows the potential of blindfolded tourism. All the proceeds also go to the Portuguese Association for the Visually Impaired.

 

5. A Sign Language Bar

Okay, so this article did have the title blindfolded tourism, but we like to share the love around at Seable so we’re going to include this one too. The Deaf Lounge in Tottenham, London, is a unique bar where all the drinks and food are ordered in sign language. It was started by Paul Cripps, a man who has been deaf since birth and was tired of having negative experiences in pubs, clubs and bars.

In addition to the service staff, there are deaf security guards and a partially deaf DJ, with the sound system being set up so that deaf revellers can feel the vibrations of the music through the floor and dance. They also run salsa, zumba and DJ workshops where deaf people can learn to read beats and play instruments.

 

So that’s our introduction to blindfolded tourism and tourism that utilises other senses. Do let us know what you think of the idea, or if you’ve been to any exciting blindfolded tourism attractions in Europe or around the world. Don’t forget to share with anyone who’s interested in innovative travel and tourism!

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Disabled holidays in Big Issue Magazine.

Read about disabled holidays with Seable through The GoDo See Buy part of  Big Issue Magazine.

You can read the full article here about our wide range of accessible sport and leisure activity for disabled holidays: scuba diving in the Mediterranean; quad biking; 4×4 driving on Mount Etna; gastronomic delights, wine tasting, olive harvesting and so much more.

We are so glad and honoured to be included in the magazine that has inspired other street papers in more than 120 countries, leading a global self-help revolution.

The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless and long-term unemployed people. Vendors buy copies for £1.25 and sell for £2.50. They are working, not begging.

disabled-holidays-big-issue-london

Since The Big Issue was launched in 1991, they have helped thousands of vulnerable people take control of their lives. The Big Issue currently work with around 2000 individuals across the UK offering them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income; to ‘help them to help themselves’.

Over the past two decades the magazine has become synonymous with challenging, independent journalism, and renowned for securing exclusive interviews with the most elusive of superstars. It currently circulates around 100,000 copies every week.

disabled-holidays-big-issue-magazine

Last year alone The Big Issue put more than £5million in the pockets of the vendors, releasing them from a dependence on handout and providing an alternative to begging.

Earning an income is the first step on the journey away from poverty and The Big Issue Foundation, a registered charity, exists to link vendors with vital support and services.

Visit www.bigissue.com for more information.

disabled-holidays-big-issue-foundation

Reviews of the latest Seable Sicily Experience

Have a taste of your disabled holidays with Seable, discover how could it be through some of our client’s reviews.

We don’t sell products: our aim is to provide the most valuable experience supported by passion and enthusiasm, believing that our disabled holidays can offer a wide range of exciting activities in order to make your trip unforgettable.

Olga, 22, a partially sighted lady from Milton Keynes, England said: “Thank you for such a wonderful experience and everything that you have done for all of us while we were in Sicily. It is because of you that I tried so many new things. Your support, encouragement and humour in various activities has helped to make this one of the best weeks in my entire life. You have worked SO hard to ensure that everyone had not only a good time and learned about Sicily, its culture and history, but also tried something new. What you do is amazing. Keep it up. You are spreading so much joy and encouragement and I hope that your company will continue to grow. Hopefully see you again soon!”

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Moreover, thank’s to our team, primary composed by local guides, you can deeply connect with the essence of your destination: “Amazing experience in Sicily. Some unique activities you wouldn’t find on a generic holiday package. As well as really friendly staff who have grown up in Sicily, which allows them to give great info on the best hidden places to eat and some knowledge on local history / sights you may want to see.” Daniel, 25, a partially sighted young boy from London said.

Rachel, 23, a partially sighted lady from Birmingham, England said: “The Seable team are amazing and very understanding, they knew the best places to take us in Sicily. A few activities we did such as; scuba diving, walking up Mount Etna, honey tasting, olive oil making and visiting an organic farm, were only some of the brilliant experiences but it didn’t stop there, there was always something we would be doing so there was never a dull moment. The team really do go the extra mile to help you in whatever way you need and are always there for a friendly chat if you need to. Can’t wait for the next trip!!”

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Mohammed, 21, a blind man from Blackburn, Lancashire said: “I cannot put into words how good the service is provided by Seable Disabled Holidays. I went to Sicily with them in October and I was extremely satisfied with the five star service that was provided. Damiano and his staff ensured I was completely comfortable at all times. Damiano went out of his way on many occasions to help me and meet my requirements. Seable Disabled Holidays are always prepared to Taylor your holiday to suit you and your needs. All the staff are very friendly and understanding. You do not feel as if you’re disabled because they make sure you are treated as normal and that you get to do what you want. They will fulfil any dietary or religious requirements you have and do everything in their power to make sure you have the best time with no stress. I recommend Seable Disabled Holidays highly. Every excursion that is offered is worth every penny and provides the most authentic experience possible. Don’t take my word for it though, book today and find out for yourself!!”

Tanya, a lovely young daughter of a visually and hearing impaired elderly father from London, said: “Seable and Damiano made it possible to take my visually and hearing impaired elderly father on holiday this year. I could not have done this on my own. They made every effort to make sure we were comfortable and happy. The tour guide Francesco was so helpful with dad and with everything from finding a spa for dad to translating menus. I can’t recommend them highly enough!! Loved Sicily and we will definitely be traveling with Seable again next year.”

We are so proud and happy to hear such lovely feedback, and we want to thank you all for such delicious reviews.

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The Blind Journalist Review

Discover the blind travel experience through theblindjournalist review.

Mohammed Salim Patel is a blind young man from Blackburn, who has been blogging as ‘The Blind Journalist’ on blind travel for several years.

Mohammed suffers from a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. His passion and enthusiasm in communication foster him to attend First Class BA Hons International Journalism degree from the University Of Central Lancashire in Preston. His blind condition, strongly influenced Mohammed’s outlook on life and gives him the motivation to succeed regardless of the obstacles which come on his way.

Mohammed has travelled within Seable Holidays in the last trip organized in Sicily: “Seable Disabled Holidays provides the most authentic experience possible that you wouldn’t get through any other travel agency or tour operator.”

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He collected different opinion about the journey within his travel mates: “Seable Disabled Holidays are always prepared to tailorlor your holiday to suit you and your needs. All the staff are very friendly and understanding. You do not feel as if you’re disabled because they make sure you are treated as normal and that you get to do what you want. They will fulfil any dietary or religious requirements you have and do everything in their power to make sure you have the best time with no stress.”

Rosie Johnston, 27, a blind lady from Epsom, London said:“I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday in Sicily. It was a fantastic experience. The Seable staff were very helpful, friendly and informative. I will definitely go on a holiday with Seable again and highly recommend them.”

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Furthermore, Mohammed was interested in understanding the people and the mission behind the organization, for this reason he interviewed the founder and general manager of the company:  “Damiano La Rocca, 29, from Catania, Italy came up with the idea to provide accessible active holidays, to those with physical or sensorial disabilities, because he wanted to fulfil a life-long dream. “

Damiano said: “My Dad is a scuba-diving instructor. He taught me that in life, you have to accept the challenge. It was that sentiment that drove me to set up Seable Disabled Holidays. Seable is an award winning social enterprise organising accessible and active holidays for individuals, couples, families and small groups. We enable people with limited mobility, impaired vision or deafness to easily participate in life-changing experiences through sporting, cultural and gastronomic activities in new and interesting destinations. Our holidays are tailored for each person and we guarantee a stress-free booking process while providing local knowledge that you need in order to enjoy the holiday to the fullest.”

One of Damiano’s visions was to work with various organisations: “We collaborate with local and international charities to guarantee the maximum level of knowledge and experience. Our partners, aim to make a difference in the world by catering exclusively for people with disabilities.“

Although Seable has only been running for a few years, the organisation has achieved a lot. Seable has a portfolio of achievement that includes two Guinness World Records. Both were in deep-sea diving. The first was in 2007 when a Paraplegic man reached 59 metres underwater. The second was in 2009 when a blind girl reached 41 metres underwater.

On this topic, Damiano said: “Our aim is to improve confidence and skills for life, challenging perceptions of disabilities and blindness. Our emphasis is always on high quality, multi-sensory experiences.”

Aside from scuba-diving, 4×4 off road driving, going to the top of Europe’s highest active volcano; Mount Etna, Mediterranean olive oil making and tactile museum visits; Seable have a whole list of activities they offer, all of which are completely accessible and competitively priced.

Read the full article here.

 

Blind Travel: 5 Tips for the Visually Impaired

Blind Travel Advice

Since a large portion of our customers are blind and visually impaired, we thought that a number of you would be interested to hear some blind travel advice. Stephanie Green is a blind freelance writer, braille transcriber and ex-archeologist, who has travelled extensively all over the world. In the article below she gives 5 useful tips for blind travel, including technology recommendations and advice on planning ahead. She also has important points to make about becoming an advocate for your own disability, what blind travel is like around the world, and what it is to be a blind traveler. Read on to hear Stephanie’s advice for blind travel.

5 Tips for Visually Impaired Travelers

Since the age of five, I’ve been an avid traveler.

My decision to become an archaeologist like my hero Indiana Jones led me to drag my parents on far-flung adventures, clambering over ruins and hunting for dinosaurs.

And although I discovered in later years that archeology and blindness do not a make for an easy career, my love of travel never abated.

I was born with achromatopsia – a rare genetic condition where my retina contains no cone cells. I’m completely colour blind, severely short-sighted (considered legally blind), and have no depth perception. Still, I’ve traveled solo, with tour groups, and with my husband throughout New Zealand and all over the world.

From my experiences, I’ve compiled following five tips for visually impaired travelers:

1. Rent a Campervan

If you’re travelling with someone who can drive, consider hiring a campervan. You can arrange the space to suit your needs, so you’ll easily be able to find your things. Your companion drives while you chill out. Or (in my case) your companion – in a brief moment of insanity – allows you to take the wheel and you promptly glide the vehicle towards a tree.

Frequent stops at interesting places along the way alleviate the boredom of long-distance driving. You don’t worry about the minefield of problems with public transport, and you’re not sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings every night. Make sure to pack good music.

2. Travel Connected

Internet cafés don’t provide adequate zoom or speech technology for vision impaired users, so if you can’t travel without the internet, you’ll need to bring your own laptop, cables, wireless unit, and software. I’m never without my laptop when I travel. It’s imperative to check out useful sites like Matador before I hit my next destination.

I use Zoomtext software, which gives me customisable magnification and font/colour programs. I can change the look of the screen and the font and icon size to whatever I want.

Zoomtext has audio features, but they’re not as good as programs like JAWS, which is designed especially for fully-blind computer users.

Since decent large print city maps are nearly impossible to come by, I simply enlarge Google maps on my screen, although JAWS sometimes has difficulty with map programs.

3. Consider a Tour Group

Blind travelers have to take additional care when planning travel: sourcing routes through cities and across countries, locating adequate facilities, and booking special guided tours. With a tour group, you don’t worry about most of this.

Transport, accommodation, sightseeing – it’s all taken care of. Many tour group leaders have some disability awareness training and will assist you with specific needs. There are tour companies who specialise in blind tours (look on Disabled Travelers or ask your local blindness institute for advice).

I’m a social person, so mixing coach tours with solo travel helps me meet new and interesting people, and takes the hassle out of planning certain legs of my trip. I prefer good old fashioned budget backpacking tours, and I’ve found companies like Tucan TravelTopdeck Tours and Kumuka friendly, helpful, and encouraging.

4. Plan Ahead to Touch

Rob Gardner, a retired engineer, was travelling to Greece and wanted – more than anything – to see the Parthenon. The only problem was that Rob’s completely blind, and the Parthenon sits behind a scaffold and fence where no tourist is allowed to enter.

So he wrote to his local Greek consulate, and they liaised with the Greek government and granted Rob special permission to cross the fence and stand inside the Parthenon, touch the stones, and walk where no tourist has walked for a hundred years.

Many museums and art galleries develop special tours for the blind, where objects from the collection can be touched. These have to be booked in advance, especially for famous museums like the Louvre and the British Museum.

If you want a unique experience over and above the average traveller, try one of these tours.

5. Inform and Educate About Blindness

I know that many people who are blind prefer to keep their disability private, and I totally respect and understand their reasons for this. Ignorant people treat us like we’re crippled, deaf, and / or stupid even though the only thing wrong with us is that our eyes don’t work properly.

I’ve heard horror stories of airlines forcing blind passengers to sit in wheelchairs while staff members push them between connecting flights. There are numerous cases of airlines rejecting blind passengers after they’re assumed to be a safety risk.

Despite the limitations placed on blind travellers – not by themselves, but by society – I always inform others about my disability. I tick the box at the airline saying ‘blind passenger‘ and the staff make extra certain I’m in the right place. When using public transport, someone will help me onto the correct train, and will often give me a discount.

In many areas of the world, a blind person walking the street is a rare sight. Be prepared for curious questions, and use your travels to educate others about disabilities.

Many people from poor areas do not understand how a westerner can still be blind – their neighbours wear glasses or have cataracts removed and their eyesight is cured. I’m always encouraged by friendly locals to try on their glasses. I smile and say thank you and try to explain that my condition is incurable.

Above all, being a blind traveller is all about seeing the world in your own way. Without sight, I’ll never have the same experiences as a normal traveller. But my experiences so far have been awesome, and any blind person can find their way in the world and create their own memorable travel stories.

You can find the original article here: http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/five-tips-for-visually-impaired-travelers/

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At Seable we specialise in blind travel. We take care of the transport, accommodation and excursions, leaving you free to do the most important thing: enjoy your holiday. Click here to find out more about our holidays, or call us at +44(0) 207 749 4866.


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