Spain is not by any means at the forefront of providing facilities for travellers with disabilities. That said, there are plenty of accessible hotels in Barcelona, while ramps and other forms of access are gradually being added to museums, sites and sports facilities. By law, all new public buildings are required to be fully accessiblePlanning a holiday
There are organized tours and holidays specifically for people with disabilities - the contacts we've listed will be able to put you in touch with any specialists for trips to Barcelona. Remember, if you use a wheelchair to have it serviced before you go and carry a repair kit.
Read your travel insurance small print carefully to make sure that people with a pre-existing medical condition are not excluded. And use your travel agent to make your journey simpler: airline or bus companies can cope better if they are expecting you, with a wheelchair provided at airports and staff primed to help. A medical certificate of your fitness to travel, provided by your doctor, is also extremely useful; some airlines or insurance companies may insist on it. Make sure that you have extra supplies of any drugs you need - carried with you if you fly - and a prescription including the generic name in case of emergency. Carry spares of any clothing or equipment that might be hard to find; if there's an association representing people with your disability, contact them early in the planning process
Transport is still the main problem in Barcelona, since buses are virtually impossible for wheelchairs and the metro system is perhaps the least wheelchair-friendly that can be imagined. Hertz has rental cars with hand controls available in Barcelona (with advance notice), and taxi drivers are usually helpful. The Brittany Ferries crossing from Plymouth to Santander offers good facilities (as do most cross-Channel ferries and hydrofoils).Contacts for travellers with disabilities
The Institut Municipal de Disminuits , c/Llacuna 171, 3° tel 934 811 141, has information on most aspects of life and travel in the city for disabled residents and visitors. It produces a booklet called Guia d'Accessibilitat , available from tourist offices (or from the Generalitat information office at Avda Drassanes 6-8), which, among other things, details the number and height of steps, width of doors, availability of ramps, lifts and adapted transport for a variety of museums, theatres, cinemas and other attractions in the city. If you're coming for the showpiece attractions, note that only the Fundacío Joan Miró, the Museu de la Ciència and the Palau de la Música are fully accessible; the Museu Picasso has a step. The city information line - on 010 - also has accessibility information for hotels, restaurants, museums, bars and stores in Barcelona. And you can obtain a map showing accessible routes for disabled tourists from the Ajuntament information office in Plaça Sant Miquel, or the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) office in Universitat metro station.
The Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España (ONCE) , c/Calabria 66-76, Barcelona 08015 (tel 933 259 200), sells a braille guidebook to Barcelona, provides information about restaurants which have braille menus, and can arrange trips for blind and visually-impaired people; write for details.
ACROD (Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled) , PO Box 60, Curtin, ACT 2605 tel 02/6282 4333; 24 Cabarita Rd, Cabarita tel 02/9743 2699. Lists of travel agencies and tour operators for disabled people.
Holiday Care Service , 2nd floor, Imperial Building, Victoria Rd, Horley, Surrey RH6 9HW tel 01293/774535. Information on all aspects of travel.
Tripscope , The Courtyard, Evelyn Rd, London W4 5JL tel 020/8994 9294, fax 8994 3618. A national telephone information service offering free travel advice.
Disability Action Group , 2 Annadale Ave, Belfast BT7 3JH tel 028/9049 1011.
Irish Wheelchair Association , Blackheath Drive, Clontarf, Dublin tel 01/833 8241, fax 833 3873. A national voluntary organization working with people with disabilities, with related services for holiday-makers.
Disabled Persons Assembly , 173 Victoria St, Wellington tel 04/801 9100.
Directions Unlimited , 720 N Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills, NY 10507 tel 914/241-1700. Travel agency specializing in custom tours for people with disabilities.
Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital , 3205 Place Alton Goldbloom, Chomedy Laval, Quebec H7V 1RT tel 514/688-9550 ext 226. Guidebooks and travel information.
Mobility International USA , PO Box 10767, Eugene, OR 97440; Voice and TDD: tel 541/343-1284. Information and referral services, access guides, tours and exchange programmes. Annual membership $25 (includes quarterly newsletter).
Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH) , 347 5th Ave, Suite 610, New York, NY 10016 tel 212/447-7284. Nonprofit travel-industry referral service that passes queries on to its members as appropriate; allow plenty of time for a response.
Travel Information Service tel 215/456-9600. Telephone information and referral service.
Twin Peaks Press , Box 129, Vancouver, WA 98666 tel 360/694-2462 or 1-800/637-2256. Publisher of the Directory of Travel Agencies for the Disabled , listing more than 370 agencies worldwide; Travel for the Disabled ; the Directory of Accessible Van Rentals and Wheelchair Vagabond , loaded with personal tips.
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