While learning a bit of the local language is important both for holidays for disabled people and holidays for those who are able-bodied, there is perhaps a greater need for those with disabilities to learn key phrases that might come up while they’re abroad. |
If you might have special requirements while you’re away, it becomes more important than ever to get yourself, and your needs, understood.
It’s for this reason that I highly recommend compiling a notebook of translated phrases relating to your condition and any help you think you might need while you’re travelling. Think about different situations you might find yourself in and what assistance you might need: wheelchair access, tourist guides for the visually or hearing impaired, lifts etc.
Sources of Translation
Gone are the days when domestic holidays for disabled people were the only option: travelling abroad is an enriching, life-affirming activity, so don’t let language be a barrier. These are a few translation sources that I recommend to help break down the language barrier and get the assistance that you may require.
• Phrase books – these can be limited in the kind of specialist language you might need to explain your condition, but can be useful for general conversation and needs like asking where the lift is. • The Internet – the internet is a fantastic resource for languages, so have a look online to see if you can find any specialist translation sites. If all else fails, try a general translation site like Google Translate, but remember: these can be slightly unreliable and if possible should be checked. • Smartphone apps – There are a variety of smartphone translation apps which will have a much wider vocabulary than a phrase book. Some apps will allow you to speak the word in English and it will pronounce it in the chosen language, making it ideal for the visually impaired. Make sure you have a trial run before you leave home though, to check that it can offer the kind of specialised translations you’re looking for. • A native speaker – If you envisage needing to ask a lot of specialised questions, for example if you need medical treatment while abroad, then it’s a good idea to write out a list of medical words and phrases and ask a native speaker to translate them for you.
Learn Basic Phrases Before You Go
We all want to be able to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the language of the country we’re visiting on holiday, and holidays for disabled people are no different. However, there may also be a few additional phrases you’ll want to commit by heart. If you have mobility issues it may be worth learning how to ask where the lift is or whether there is wheelchair access, for example.
Think about questions or phrases you find yourself saying regularly in your daily life and then learn those in the language of the country you’re visiting.
Write Emergency Phrase Cards
Learning a new language can be difficult, particularly if you have a learning disability, and it can be hard to call to mind new words in the midst of a crisis. I believe it is a good idea to write some key emergency phrases on cards, which you can present if the situation arises. Hopefully you’ll never need them, but it might just give you extra piece of mind to know you can get yourself understood in an emergency.
Philip Scott is the owner and founder of Can Be Done, a fully licensed UK tour operator specialising in worldwide holidays for disabled individuals and groups. With over 31 years’ experience organising long and short breaks for disabled travellers, Philip has built a reputation for helping his clients select hotels and accommodation that offer high standards of accessibility, to ensure that those with special needs can experience truly relaxing and carefree holidays.
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