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Movies, maps and custom caravans – the latest news in accessible travel

From film festivals and custom-made caravans to maps and VR, check out our favourite news stories in accessible travel this week.

A lot is changing in the travel world. A couple of weeks ago, nobody could even explore beyond their neighbourhood. With travel restrictions easing, this long weekend will be the first time in a while that many people will have even considered a getaway. There’s certainly lots going on! Here’s the wrap-up of our favourite news stories in accessible tourism this week.

Sydney Film Festival goes virtual

For the first time in its 67-year history, Sydney Film Festival is heading online. The program will launch from 10th to 21st June, and can now be enjoyed via streaming from the comfort of your home.

Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW, is looking forward to what this means for audiences.

“An unprecedented number of film lovers will now be able to connect virtually to the Festival’s program,” she says.

Screenability film ‘Diving In’ is an action-comedy about teen swimmer Alex. Credit: Sydney Film Festival/ Supplied

One of the three major festival strands, Screenability is returning in 2020 with three short films. Screenability showcases stories representing disability, produced with the support of Screen NSW. Click here to read our interview with two of this year’s Screenability filmmakers, Emily Dash and Adam Bowes.

“This year Screenability, the platform for screen practitioners with disability, returns with a line-up of NSW talent, stronger than ever,” says Brunsdon. “I’m excited that the Festival will be connecting with a broad spectrum of communities in homes around the country.”

All films will be screened with bonus material exclusive to Sydney Film Festival, including interviews with directors and creatives. Visit the Sydney Film Festival website here for more information, or read our story on the top picks from Screenability.

Tune in to watch ‘Groundhog Night,’ written by and starring Emily Dash (right). Credit: Sydney Film Festival/ Supplied

Australia’s first custom-built accessible caravans

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got your eyes set on the horizon and your heart on the open road. Travel restrictions are gradually lifting, and the prospect of awesome Aussie road trips is no longer just a pipe-dream. With perfect timing, Accessavan have launched quality, custom-built accessible caravans on the road trip scene.

Dealing in RVs and offering services and modifications since 2006, Accessavan can now design and build a caravan specifically suited to your travel needs. Custom options include roll-in showers, ceiling lifts, bed configuration, washing machines and more.

Manager and owner Anthony Wake, who became a paraplegic in 1991, grew Accessavan out of his own love of the outdoors. One of Accessavan’s central tenets is creating products for people with wheelchairs by people with wheelchairs, opening up Australia to any eager traveller.

Want to read more? Check out this story on the Jones family’s adventures in a modified motorhome.

Accessible places on Google Maps

Google has just released a new feature on Maps allowing users to view information about a destination’s wheelchair accessibility.

Simply turn on ‘Accessible Places’ under your Accessibility Settings on Google. When you search a destination or service, it will feature a wheelchair icon if it has accessible entrances. Some places will also include information on seating, bathrooms and parking when you click on them. Handy, right?

New VR travel experiences

This funky offering from Melbourne-based start up SilVR brings globetrotting to the living room. Designed first and foremost for seniors in Aged Care facilities, the Virtual Reality program allows users to travel the world’s exotic destinations or stroll past familiar parks and shops on local streets.

The idea behind SilVR, according to its founder and director Colin Pudsey, was to help combat isolation and loneliness in Aged Care. The program is particularly apt during COVID-19 crisis, when residents are unable to travel for holidays or family visits.

Pudsey is confident tourism will bounce back. He doesn’t think VR will replace travelling in the flesh, but is eager to see how technology can help in planning trips and sampling experiences.

Top tips for resuming travel

Perhaps the biggest piece of news in accessible travel is the gradual lift in travel restrictions. With domestic travel opening up and interstate travel on the horizon, check out these tips for healthy, safe travel from Have Wheelchair Will Travel.

For more tips on getting back out into the community with a wheelchair, check out this story as well.

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