Midlothian Matters - Tourism up close and personal

David with his guide dog Royal try out the app developed by Roslin man Gavin Neate (right)

David with his guide dog Royal try out the app developed by Roslin man Gavin Neate (right)

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How many of us actually take time to find out about what is often near your own home or workplace? writes David Keenan, inclusion director at Neatebox.

As an example, for over 40 years I knew of the various “Closes” that spread out from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, but never really found them – unless of course while out with others for a meal or drink. I suppose it doesn’t help that I am actually visually impaired and closes were simply out of my field of vision. But Inclusive Tourism is not about disabled access, it’s about including everyone irrespective of who you might be or where you might have come from.

Sure, there are undoubted physical access issues with a number of venues, but the historic landscape was not built with modern-day expectations in mind and so is a separate subject. The technological and integrated era in which we live is helping to provide new and engaging ways to take part in the tourist experience. It’s not just for the likes of me, as a registered blind person, but for my fully able-bodied family and friends. Importantly, Inclusive Tourism is about the creation of environments in which we can all share.

The opportunity to make clever use of the current and emerging technologies on our smart-phones, tablets, and wearables is now and is allowing us all to engage in more equal and liberating ways as individuals and in groups. The use of an app on your device can provide tourist information that you never knew, and if you need another language open another app to help with translation. Back to the Royal Mile – it wasn’t until the City of Edinburgh Council developed their “Edinburgh Up Close” app that I really became aware of the closes. The app is designed to alert and open information as you approach a close, it has the added bonus of giving someone like me a clue that I am in fact near, or in, a close and I can therefore do the tour on my own! This app wasn’t designed with just me in mind, it’s aimed at all tourists.

There has never been a better time to become an Inclusive Tourist, or operator. Check out your local area online, and get mobile during lunch. Better still, discover your area with others.

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