A view of the Harbor East neighborhood in Baltimore. (photo via Ken Stanek / Visit Baltimore)
Visit Baltimore, the city’s destination sales and marketing organization, has unveiled a new accessibility resource for the local hospitality industry, restaurants, museums and other attractions as part of its Warm Welcome inclusivity program, with guides on disability identity, etiquette, needs and preferences.
The Warm Welcome program was created to promote the destination’s inclusivity, regardless of gender identity, race, nationality, ethnicity and disability. Local businesses, hotels and attractions are encouraged to take the pledge to commit to training staff on bias, accessibility, race and more, and are provided with a toolkit of resources for training.
“We firmly believe that Baltimore is a top destination for a diverse array of travelers, no matter who you are or where you come from,” said Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “As we have been striving to become a destination that embraces diversity and inclusivity, we recognize the important role that accessibility plays when travelers with disabilities are making decisions on where to visit.”
The training is presented by Visit Baltimore and DEI and Accessibility expert, Melanie Hood-Wilson, owner of Melanie Hood-Wilson and Associates and Director of Special Populations at the Community College of Baltimore County.
Once the organization finishes training with its entire staff, they’ll be provided with a Warm Welcome kit, including a window cling to show that they’ve completed the training.
“While most businesses are in compliance with ADA requirements, there are a number of things that hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions can do to improve their services for individuals with disabilities,” said Melanie Hood-Wilson.
“The goal of this module is to ensure that Baltimore’s visitors with disabilities are afforded equal access to and enjoyment of all the many cultural resources Baltimore has to offer. While we have a long way to go in this area, it is important that businesses and attractions put in the work every day to be welcoming and inclusive.”
A Warm Welcome training module on the LGBTQ+ community will be released later this year.