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Frequently Asked Questions

How many barrier-free Swiss Youth Hostels are there?

Today, 30 of the total of 52 Swiss Youth Hostels are barrier-free. Of these 23 are suitable for disabled persons and 7 partially suitable. Whereas the "suitable” hostels were able to satisfy requirements for disabled access in all areas including the arrival route and entry up to the wet cells, in the case of the partially suitablehostels there are individual limitations to be borne in mind, information on which is provided on a case-by-case basis (for example dimensions for ease of access not always achieved etc.).

Are all rooms in Swiss Youth Hostels barrier-free?

The Swiss Youth Hostels offer barrier-free beds in a range of rooms from 2-bed rooms with their own shower/WC to multi-bed rooms. With the barrier-free beds, care has also been taken to ensure the widest possible room offering, and in turn a broad price mix. Not all rooms are necessarily barrier-free however. Obviously the upper levels of bunk beds are not barrier-free.

Who are the Swiss Youth Hostels addressing with their barrier-free offering?

The Swiss Youth Hostels see it as part of their social tourism mission to be accessible to everyone without exception. The facilities and services should benefit all guests, in particular also people with a physical or mental disability or with hearing, vision or speech impairment who are able to travel alone or with accompanying persons.

Are the building measures the driving force in the joint project with the Denk an mich Foundation?

The Swiss Youth Hostels recognised at an early stage that physical obstructions were not the only problems faced by disabled people when travelling. The collaboration with the Denk an mich Foundation has substantiated this awareness. This is the reason why in addition to the building measures, the joint project also encompasses comprehensive information provision, a programme to advertise the barrier-free offering as well as awareness training for the staff of the Swiss Youth Hostels. In addition, endeavours are to be made to achieve barrier-free certification for the youthhostel.ch website as well as to develop a suitable online booking system. The programme of measures is structured in such a way as to be a model for other tourist service providers.

By what means is the success of the joint project measured?

It isvery important to us to be able to reach as many people with disabilities as possible. Measurability in absolute figures is an as yet unanswered question that we are currently trying to resolve. In addition, the Swiss Youth Hostels and the Denk an mich Foundation are hoping to set a strong example for all Swiss tourist service providers.

Why is the existing Avenches Youth Hostel building not being converted to made it totally barrier-free?

In Avenches, it became apparent at an early planning phase that the expense involved in making the existing building barrier-free would be disproportionate. Thanks to the spacious setting however, it was still possible to come up with a feasible solution in the form of the pavilion with two barrier-free rooms. In addition, all shared facilities and the day rooms in the main building were also made barrier-free. Broad financial support (canton, municipality, Denk an mich etc.) has been vital not only in the continued presence of a youth hostel in Avenches but also in making it accessible to people with disabilities.

Is the pavilion in Avenches an integration measure?

Obviously every endeavour should always be made to avoid individual barrier-free rooms being located in separate buildings. Since the wheelchair-accessible pavilion with two double rooms and covered outdoor area is linked with all day rooms and outdoor areas with ramps however, this separation is restricted to the actual private area of the rooms. In Avenches Youth Hostel, the social life takes place in the unique garden and the day rooms on the ground floor. People with a disability can therefore enjoy unrestricted participation in activities.

How can disabled people make bookings?

Essentially, disabled people book just like any other guest. Up to now, the emphasis was on telephone booking, enabling the special needs to be clarified precisely in advance. Soon however, it should also be possible for disabled persons to book their special requirements such as a barrier-free room or barrier-free car parking directly online.

Does the principle "Disabled people first’ apply to the booking of barrier-free rooms?

Equal treatment of all guests is a fundamental principle in Swiss Youth Hostels; no preference is given, not even to people with disabilities. However, it is therefore all the more important for the Swiss Youth Hostels to address the specific needs of people with disabilities for information, booking facilities etc. and to train the staff accordingly.

What information is provided by the Swiss Youth Hostels for people with disabilities?

The Swiss Youth Hostels provide specific information on getting to the hostel, the facilities and technical information such door widths, lift sizes etc. as well as suggestions for excursions in the region. People with disabilities have individual limitations when travelling. It is therefore important for them to be able to check that the facilities are sufficiently barrier-free to meet their personal needs before embarking on their journey.

Why did the Swiss Youth Hostels not simply copy the Cerebral Pavilions at the TCS camping sites during the Avenches conversion?

The requirements placed on the pavilions are fundamentally different. The TCS pavilions are geared to the camping and caravan environment, whereas the youth hostels offer hotel-type rooms – this places very different demands on the thermal efficiency of the building for example. In addition, the situation in Avenches demanded compliance with increased architectural and urban planning requirements in order for any sort of building work to be carried out on the site.

Are the barrier-free Swiss Youth Hostels entirely suitable for the visually impaired?

Travellers with guide and therapy dogs are welcome in all Swiss Youth Hostels. In addition, the Swiss Youth Hostels offer a barrier-free website as a measure for visually impaired persons. Our many building measures also help to make life easier for visually-impaired persons during their stay with us.

Why does the SJH website not have barrier-free certification?

In 2015, the Swiss Youth Hostels are launching a new website on which they already hold AAA certification in consultation with the "Zugang für alle” Foundation. The existing PDF documents, offered in barrier-free format on the Swiss Youth Hostels website at the present time, were designed to be barrier-free by the well-known foundation. In 2015, the website will then become barrier-free.

Do the Swiss Youth Hostels staff receive training?

Yes, courses to increase awareness of the needs of disabled people are offered regularly as part of the internal training programme.

Are disabled people also involved in the work on the joint project between the Swiss Youth Hostels and the Denk an mich Foundation?

Swiss Youth Hostels employs a number of persons with disabilities in the organisation. However, the focus of the project is not on creating jobs for the disabled, but on the provision of a barrier-free tourist offering. The experiences of directly affected persons are especially important in this respect. Ms. Ursula Schwaller - architect and Board Member of the Denk an mich Foundation – is a wheelchair user and supports and supervises the project in the Denk an mich foundation steering committee. In addition, the Schweizerische Fachstelle für behindertengerechtes Bauen (a specialist organisation for barrier-free construction), represented by Joe Manser and Beni Rüdisüli, is also a partner of the project together with the Federal Bureau for the Equality of People with Disabilities (FBED). Both gentlemen are wheelchair users and support the project both technically and with many personal experiences.