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Competition showcases accessibility in tourism

2 Jan 2021

Winner, Karen Coetzee, right, with Shama Nathi(left) and Jabaar Cassiem Mohamed (Provincial Director, Western Cape DeafSA)

By Lebohang Monyatsi

The winners of the Universal Accessibility Hub (UA Hub) photo and video competition were announced on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), at the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town.

Karin Coetzee won the best photo competition while Russell Vollmer won for the best video. Coetzee’s photo was of accessible beach rugby.

Russel Vollmer-one of the winners in the competition

“One of the requirements for a blue flag beach is that there must be access to the beach,” she told ThisAbility. Vollmer entered a video of a sailing boat that allows persons with disabilities to sail.

The competition, which was announced on social media in October, encouraged photographers, travellers, tourism service providers and the general public to enter images and videos that promoted the participation of people with disabilities for an inclusive experience. The hashtags were #disabilityaccess, #tourisminclusion, #disabilityinclusion,#accessibility, #accessibilityawareness and #universalaccessibility.

The founder and managing director of UA Hub, Shama Nathoo, said that the organisation’s vision is to profile South Africa as a leading universal accessible destination.

“The essence of the photo and video competition is to promote awareness and inclusion for persons with disabilities as one of our core values. The covid19 pandemic has exposed the strong need for government and private companies to be able to anticipate and prevent problems rather than just react to them. My motivation behind the campaign is mainly to drive awareness for us to build an inclusive experience for all,” said the entrepreneur.

One of the judges, Anesh Magan, a Mr Deaf South Africa 2020 finalist, said “The competition has been beautiful and it has definitely created more awareness for us and I would like to see more entries in [2021].”

The winners for the best photo and best video each walked away with R2 500 and the rest of the best 10 were showcased at Artscape and will remain on the UA Hub website to assist other travellers with disabilities.

For Nathoo IDPD means bringing about awareness in the tourism sector about the challenges that persons with disabilities go through and try to come up with solutions that will influence change.

“It is a day to create awareness and start a dialogue about accessibility, inclusion and adaptation barriers that exist for persons with disabilities. UA Hub’s competition called for all South Africans to look at things differently [regarding]accessibility for an inclusive tourism offering and take a positive approach to showcase what has been achieved to influence change,” Nathoo said.


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