The world population is aging with a consequent increase of people with disabilities (Pulsiri et al., 2019). As a result, there is a growing interest in the issue of disability from numerous points of view. Both national and international legislative and social and economic interventions reflect important developments. These factors have to be taken into consideration when approaching the different measurements and defini- tions of disabilities. The new approach to disability was developed and endorsed by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), at the 54th World Health Assembly in May 2001, and with a resolution on “disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation” (www.who.int) at the 58th World Health Assembly in May 2005. Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) now increasingly recognizes the need to reduce the burden associated with health conditions concerning the matter of disabilities (Stucki and Gerold 2005). As a result, the WHO framework for measuring disability classifies health by consider- ing functioning as related not only to interaction with the health condition of a person (e.g., disorder or disease) but also to personal and environmental factors. Among the key functions, measures related to participation and involvement in life situations are envisaged (Cobigo et al., 2012). Therefore, any restriction to taking part in activities is seen as a problem to be considered in the individual experience, as functioning and health are contemplated in association with personal and environmental factors (Stucki and Gerold 2005). The notion of social participation also includes the possibility of freely enjoying places (museums, libraries, theaters), goods and services, and being able to live cultural, artistic, and physical-sporting experiences that generate well-being. In addition, the removal of any barriers that prevent citizenship, formation of social capital, and complete and rewarding social partici- pation has taken on a new impetus (Cass et al., 2005). In this approach, participation in various forms of tourism and leisure activities guarantees disabled people an improvement in personal development and quality of life by contributing to social inclusion. It is well known that tourism is an important social need that has a positive effect on people, and accessible tourism is about making it easy for everyone to enjoy touristic experiences by removing barriers and considering a set of devices and facilities aimed to enable accessibility through innovative information technology (IT). Accessibility indicates how easy it is for everybody to approach, enter, and use structures, outdoor spaces, and other facilities, autonomously, without the need for special arrangements (Westcott, 2004). Accordingly, accessibility should also be understood as those principles and techniques to be observed when designing, constructing, maintaining, and updating websites and mobile applications to make them more accessible to users, in partic- ular persons with disabilities (Directive (EU) 2016/2102). Providing information on accessibility and improving access benefits a wide range of people who want to travel, but who may find it difficult. Moreover, useful information allows disabled people to determine whether a service or destination is accessible to them in its current condition, while increasing the market potential for the tourism sector (Westcott, 2004). The planning and use of current technology involving computers and web browsers are being designed more and more to be of aid to those with many kinds of disabilities, demonstrating that the challenge of web accessibility (Carter & Markel, 2001) for every user is considered of great importance. This is the case of the implementation of assistive technologies (AT) that enable people with disabil- ities to access information or control their environment and guarantee an improve- ment both in their personal development and quality of life by contributing to social inclusion. For example, in the use of interface, which as is well known can be complex and certainly not always easy to use, especially by those with disabilities, obstacles should not be encountered right from the first phase of seeking tourist information on a tourist website. Small tricks that go beyond the commonly accepted standards can make the difference, moving toward an idea of tourism characterized by acceptance and accessibility criteria aimed at everyone. Thus, under the umbrella of the accessibility principle, it is worth considering how much IT could significantly improve the quality of life also for people with disabilities by increasing their independence and participation in the community and social world. Current innovation includes a new vision of the word “accessibility” as a term addressed not only to people with disabilities but to everyone and aims at improving overall accessibility. Thus, people with disabilities need not be considered as a specific touristic category belonging to a niche of customers that must be protected. On the contrary, as long as a complete barrier-free environment exists and special- ized personnel is provided, people with disabilities can experience the same joy from pleasure travel as the average tourist, including the elderly, young children, and pregnant women (Wu and Cheng, 2008).In the current context, growing attention is given to tourism characterized as “responsible,” pivoted on the principles related to the enhancement of the environ- ment and cultural heritage, with particular attention to the weaker sections of the population. To guide countries concerning the rights of persons with disabilities, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda (Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) was a landmark achievement, foreseeing a shared global vision toward sustainable development for all (tourism for all), including persons with disabilities by encouraging them to become active members in society. The agenda aims to leave no one behind and moves together to the future: its success also involves the application of digital technologies for people with disabilities. The 2030 Agenda is guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and grounded, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties. The 2030 Agenda is therefore linked to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its implementation by, for, and with persons with disabilities increasingly incorporates the disability perspective in all aspects of its realization, monitoring, and evaluation. It provides a powerful framework to guide local communities, countries, and the international community toward the achievement of disability-inclusive develop- ment (Disability and Development Report, 2018). Notwithstanding the evidence of the growing debate on the social, economic, and environmental situation and despite both public and numerous private interventions aimed to create accessible tourism for people with disabilities, tourism is still today far from accessible to many of those suffering from disabilities (Kastenholz et al., 2015) due to the existence of physical, environmental, economic and social, and/or other barriers. Empirical studies show that disabled persons continue to have a lower possibility of accessing touristic activities than non-disabled people. For these reasons, this chapter intends to offer a contribution to the study of touristic opportunities for people with disabilities, shedding some light on an Italian nonprofit project called Turismabile that, since 2007, has been engaged in several activities aimed to improve Piedmont tourist accessibility and promoting Piedmont (a region in the north-west of Italy with Turin as the capital town) as a touristic destination for all. Turismabile was the first project in Italy to consider accessible tourism in a new way: not just as a hotel without architectural barriers but a whole territory that considers usability by everyone, such as the quality of the offers and places. The chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 introduces a theoretical framework on tourism and disabilities. Section 3 outlines the methods and research data. Section 4 illustrates the empirical case of Turismabile, as an emblematic Italian example of an innovative project related to “tourism for all.” Sect. 5 presents the discussion. Section 6 sums up the main insights and conclusive remarks.

Eco-Innovation as a Tool to Enhance the Competitiveness of “Tourism for All”: The Italian Project “Turismabile”

Giovanna Centorrino
Primo
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
Daniela Rupo
Membro del Collaboration Group
2022

Abstract

The world population is aging with a consequent increase of people with disabilities (Pulsiri et al., 2019). As a result, there is a growing interest in the issue of disability from numerous points of view. Both national and international legislative and social and economic interventions reflect important developments. These factors have to be taken into consideration when approaching the different measurements and defini- tions of disabilities. The new approach to disability was developed and endorsed by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), at the 54th World Health Assembly in May 2001, and with a resolution on “disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation” (www.who.int) at the 58th World Health Assembly in May 2005. Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) now increasingly recognizes the need to reduce the burden associated with health conditions concerning the matter of disabilities (Stucki and Gerold 2005). As a result, the WHO framework for measuring disability classifies health by consider- ing functioning as related not only to interaction with the health condition of a person (e.g., disorder or disease) but also to personal and environmental factors. Among the key functions, measures related to participation and involvement in life situations are envisaged (Cobigo et al., 2012). Therefore, any restriction to taking part in activities is seen as a problem to be considered in the individual experience, as functioning and health are contemplated in association with personal and environmental factors (Stucki and Gerold 2005). The notion of social participation also includes the possibility of freely enjoying places (museums, libraries, theaters), goods and services, and being able to live cultural, artistic, and physical-sporting experiences that generate well-being. In addition, the removal of any barriers that prevent citizenship, formation of social capital, and complete and rewarding social partici- pation has taken on a new impetus (Cass et al., 2005). In this approach, participation in various forms of tourism and leisure activities guarantees disabled people an improvement in personal development and quality of life by contributing to social inclusion. It is well known that tourism is an important social need that has a positive effect on people, and accessible tourism is about making it easy for everyone to enjoy touristic experiences by removing barriers and considering a set of devices and facilities aimed to enable accessibility through innovative information technology (IT). Accessibility indicates how easy it is for everybody to approach, enter, and use structures, outdoor spaces, and other facilities, autonomously, without the need for special arrangements (Westcott, 2004). Accordingly, accessibility should also be understood as those principles and techniques to be observed when designing, constructing, maintaining, and updating websites and mobile applications to make them more accessible to users, in partic- ular persons with disabilities (Directive (EU) 2016/2102). Providing information on accessibility and improving access benefits a wide range of people who want to travel, but who may find it difficult. Moreover, useful information allows disabled people to determine whether a service or destination is accessible to them in its current condition, while increasing the market potential for the tourism sector (Westcott, 2004). The planning and use of current technology involving computers and web browsers are being designed more and more to be of aid to those with many kinds of disabilities, demonstrating that the challenge of web accessibility (Carter & Markel, 2001) for every user is considered of great importance. This is the case of the implementation of assistive technologies (AT) that enable people with disabil- ities to access information or control their environment and guarantee an improve- ment both in their personal development and quality of life by contributing to social inclusion. For example, in the use of interface, which as is well known can be complex and certainly not always easy to use, especially by those with disabilities, obstacles should not be encountered right from the first phase of seeking tourist information on a tourist website. Small tricks that go beyond the commonly accepted standards can make the difference, moving toward an idea of tourism characterized by acceptance and accessibility criteria aimed at everyone. Thus, under the umbrella of the accessibility principle, it is worth considering how much IT could significantly improve the quality of life also for people with disabilities by increasing their independence and participation in the community and social world. Current innovation includes a new vision of the word “accessibility” as a term addressed not only to people with disabilities but to everyone and aims at improving overall accessibility. Thus, people with disabilities need not be considered as a specific touristic category belonging to a niche of customers that must be protected. On the contrary, as long as a complete barrier-free environment exists and special- ized personnel is provided, people with disabilities can experience the same joy from pleasure travel as the average tourist, including the elderly, young children, and pregnant women (Wu and Cheng, 2008).In the current context, growing attention is given to tourism characterized as “responsible,” pivoted on the principles related to the enhancement of the environ- ment and cultural heritage, with particular attention to the weaker sections of the population. To guide countries concerning the rights of persons with disabilities, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda (Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) was a landmark achievement, foreseeing a shared global vision toward sustainable development for all (tourism for all), including persons with disabilities by encouraging them to become active members in society. The agenda aims to leave no one behind and moves together to the future: its success also involves the application of digital technologies for people with disabilities. The 2030 Agenda is guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and grounded, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties. The 2030 Agenda is therefore linked to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its implementation by, for, and with persons with disabilities increasingly incorporates the disability perspective in all aspects of its realization, monitoring, and evaluation. It provides a powerful framework to guide local communities, countries, and the international community toward the achievement of disability-inclusive develop- ment (Disability and Development Report, 2018). Notwithstanding the evidence of the growing debate on the social, economic, and environmental situation and despite both public and numerous private interventions aimed to create accessible tourism for people with disabilities, tourism is still today far from accessible to many of those suffering from disabilities (Kastenholz et al., 2015) due to the existence of physical, environmental, economic and social, and/or other barriers. Empirical studies show that disabled persons continue to have a lower possibility of accessing touristic activities than non-disabled people. For these reasons, this chapter intends to offer a contribution to the study of touristic opportunities for people with disabilities, shedding some light on an Italian nonprofit project called Turismabile that, since 2007, has been engaged in several activities aimed to improve Piedmont tourist accessibility and promoting Piedmont (a region in the north-west of Italy with Turin as the capital town) as a touristic destination for all. Turismabile was the first project in Italy to consider accessible tourism in a new way: not just as a hotel without architectural barriers but a whole territory that considers usability by everyone, such as the quality of the offers and places. The chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 introduces a theoretical framework on tourism and disabilities. Section 3 outlines the methods and research data. Section 4 illustrates the empirical case of Turismabile, as an emblematic Italian example of an innovative project related to “tourism for all.” Sect. 5 presents the discussion. Section 6 sums up the main insights and conclusive remarks.
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