Not so lonely: Enabling the disabled to travel

The phrasebook will help one billion disabled people (15 percent of the world’s population) manoeuvre travel better. Source: Shutterstock.

THANKS TO LONELY PLANET, the disabled community will now be able to travel with more ease and communicate their concerns better in foreign places.

In support of accessible travel/tourism, the travel guide book publisher has released its first ever travel phrasebook for the disabled.

With help from its accessible travel manager Martin Heng and many other volunteer translators, the company was able to produce an Accessible Travel Phrasebook for those who need it the most.

Heng is no stranger to championing accessible travel for the disabled. An avid cyclist in the past, Heng was hit by a car some years ago, which damaged his spinal cord and left him a quadriplegic.

Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager Martin Heng in Aireys Inlet, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. Source: Sabine Heng/Lonely Planet.

According to The World Bank, one billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

And of that figure, more than 26 million adults with disabilities travel for pleasure and/or business, taking 73 million trips, according to an Open Doors Organization (ODO) study.

In speaking about the Accessible Travel Phrasebook, Heng said, “All travellers will get more out of their trip by being able to speak a few words of the local language, but for people with a disability it’s often vital to be able to explain your particular needs.”

“Since standard phrasebooks are unlikely to contain the language you need to talk about needs around disability we’ve gathered together some disability-specific words and phrases and translated them into as many different languages as we practically could.”

Source: Lonely Planet.

The electronic pocketbook includes 100 disability-specific words and phrases, easy-to-follow pronunciation guides, glossary of common conditions, vocabulary on topics ranging from hotels to transportation and many more unique features. It’s also compatible mobile devices, tablets, and laptops.

More importantly, it comes with phrases in 35 languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese.

“Although things are slowly changing for the better, there are still plenty of barriers to travel for people with a disability – language doesn’t have to be yet another,” Heng said.

Accessible Travel Phrasebook is available online and can be downloaded for free here.

Not so lonely after all, hey.