Dubai: The key to creating a successful future is an accessible present, especially with Dubai opening its gates to the world.
Expo 2020 mirrors Dubai's commitment by making facilities at the site accessible and safe for all. This includes people of determination, for whom organisers have gone the extra mile to ensure user-friendly experiences and comfortable transits.
Sensory Accessible Event
For the first time ever in World Expo history and in the Arab region, an exposition has been certified as a sensory accessible event. This inclusion accreditation was granted to Expo 2020 Dubai during an event planned around World Autism Awareness Day at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion on April 1, 2021.
Expo has met the high standards of the International Board of Sensory Accessibility (IBSA) through its numerous initiatives to make the event as accessible to autistic and sensory sensitive individuals as possible.
The criteria Expo 2020 has met include:
- Headphones and sunglasses available to guests
- Social narratives about the Expo 2020 Thematic Pavilion journeys and key experiences on site
- Four quiet rooms with innovative sensory equipment
- Autism awareness and response plan training for all visitor-facing staff
- Sensory rating cards on the Expo 2020 website for all of the pavilions and permanent experiences
Read on to find out more about what services and measures are in place to ensure people of determination have a smooth Expo visit.
Free tickets for people of determination
Entry to the event is free for people of determination and half the ticket price for one companion.
All visitors, including those eligible for complimentary access, must book tickets. Expo 2020 may request eligibility for any complimentary ticket holders, including people of determination.
Accessible transport to Expo
With the completion of Route 2020, visitors can avail the efficient, affordable and fully accessible Dubai Metro to get to the Expo 2020 site.
People of Determination Taxi
If visitors wish to use public transport to get to the site, Dubai Taxi Corportation has a People of Determination Taxi in its fleet.
These red-rooftop taxis are spacious and offer hassle-free transfer for wheelchair users. Since this fleet is limited, visitors are advised to make their bookings in advance.
Booking a People of Determination Taxi
Visitors of determination can call +97142080808 or use the Careem app to book a Hala – People of Determination Taxi.
Booking a private car for hire for people of determination
Enaya Car and Inclusion Services LLC cater to visitors who wish to travel using a private hire. They can expect experienced drivers, and vehicles with fully-equipped features for children, adults, seniors, and tourists of determination.
• Enaya Car: A Dubai-based door-to-door, wheelchair accessible taxi service that serves passengers in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, and Abu Dhabi.
For an entire day, visitors can rent an accessible van for Dh850 with an experienced driver, and Dh400 without a driver. If visitors opt for the rental option without a driver, they will be charged a refundable security deposit of Dh2,500.
To book a ride with Enaya Car, call +97145850869 or +971506472949.
• Inclusion Services LLC: An Abu Dhabi-based rental company that provides a door-to-door service across the UAE.
While the service cost varies by hour, visitors can opt for a single day package at the price of Dh1,500.
To book a ride with Inclusion, call +97126812929.
Accessibility facilities for people of determination at Expo
People of determination can park in accessible zones at the Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility parking lots. The short commute from the parking lot to the arrival plazas is covered by wheelchair-friendly golf buggies.
To do this, people of determination are encouraged to bring their valid parking permit from Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), or other valid permit from their city or country.
The RTA offers parking permits for visitors who are people of determination; registration is required on the website or at one of the customer happiness centres.
There is a dedicated lane and screening device at the gates for people of determination, those who use medical devices, or those who prefer a more discreet screening process.
Accessible toilets are dispersed throughout the Expo site.
In addition to meeting accessible requirements in public washrooms, Expo 2020 also offers standalone accessible toilets and four Changing Places toilets, which contain an adjustable changing board and hoists for transfer.
Quiet rooms for those who experience sensory overload or anxiety
Those with sensory sensitivities or anyone requiring a calm environment can seek out one of the four quiet rooms at four of the site’s Information Centres. They can relax in a sensory pod, a sensory corner, or on a sofa.
It is recommended that those prone to seizures seek professional advice before entry to Expo 2020.
However, conditions of entry information signs will be posted at pavilion entrances, where necessary, so that all visitors, including people of determination, know what is permissible and are aware of what is in store.
Service dog relief areas
Expo provides four relief areas on site for visitors with certified service dogs and are welcome to use them.
Although the Expo volunteers and staff can arrange for water for the dog on request, they are not responsible for food or looking after the animal.
Visitors with service dogs are recommended to carry relevant documents with them, as only certified service dogs will be allowed on site.
Manual and electric wheelchairs will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visitors should keep in mind that these are limited.
They can be leased from Information Centres. Wheelchair charging stations are available at some of the Visitor Centres found under the escalators.
Accessibility services for people of determination at Expo
If you have autism and/or any hidden impairments, these services are available to you:
- Four quiet rooms with innovative sensory equipment.
- Communication cards: Non-verbal visitors can communicate basic needs using the communication cards on the PODium app (details on the app can be found below) to assist when communicating with the onsite staff.
- Sunflower lanyards: For those with hidden impairments who want to be discreetly identified can obtain a sunflower lanyard at four of the Information Centres.
- Social narratives: These share information about the visitor experiences, with details about sensory impacts, and will be available for download on the Expo website.
If you are visually-impaired, these services are available to you:
- Entry to the venue with service dogs, for whom Expo provides relief areas.
- Tactile features:
o 14 tactile maps located around the site with raised and embossed images of the surrounding area, as well as audio output and braille, for those who are vision impaired.
o Walking surface indicators in standard locations.
o 3D tactile models of the site’s flagship architecture.
- The official Expo 2020 app will provide an audio information tour of numerous points of interest.
If you are hearing impaired, these services are available to you:
- Hearing enhancement systems: Signs will be posted where hearing induction loops are available, such as at ticketing booths, Information Centres, and retail counters.
- Sign language interpretation: Arabic and English interpretations are available for some ceremonies, talks, and official speeches. Visitors can also scan codes for self-guided experiences that will be signed.
If you have reduced mobility, these services are available to you:
- Manual and electric wheelchairs.
- Accessible heights: Service counters, ATMs, and drinking fountains are at an accessible height for visitors.
- Dedicated viewing areas: Some experiences have dedicated areas for viewing.
The PODium app has several features for visitors who are people of determination while at Expo 2020 Dubai, such as 3D visual mapping, audio navigation, and haptic (touch) feedback to navigate the site efficiently.
Additional features will be revealed when the app will be available for download closer to the main event.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News