6 of the World's Most Disability-Friendly Travel Destinations
It’s all about easy accessibility for these world cities.
Traveling with a wheelchair or other mobility restrictions has become easier than ever as more and more countries around the world pass accessibility laws for people with disabilities. Wide sidewalks, accessible public transportation and easy access to public attractions, stores, and hotels are just some of the features that any disability-friendly city should have. Scroll down for a virtual tour of the most accessible cities on the planet:
1. BERLIN, GERMANY
In recent years, the German capital implemented a well-thought out and truly comprehensive disability policy, and heavily invested in turning the once-divided city into a highly accessible and barrier-free environment for all. In 2013, Berlin won the EU City Access Award, receiving special praise for its efforts to create a barrier-free environment and its highly accessible transportation system. The vast majority of theatres and museums in Berlin are handicapped accessible, as well as many restaurants and bars throughout the city.
2. DENVER, COLORADO, USA
Though it is located in the Rocky Mountains, Denver itself is relatively flat, and actually one of the best cities in the US for wheelchair access. The city offers a wide range of recreational and cultural activities for disabled people, and its fully accessible metro transportation system and special door-to-door paratransit service are invaluable to anyone with a physical handicap. Many of the city’s museums are fully accessible and offer special tours for people with hearing disabilities.
3. GDYNIA, POLAND
In what may come as a rather surprising entry on this list, the historic city of Gdynia, Poland is actually well-known for its efforts to make public transit available to all. Almost all of the city’s buses are currently accessible to those with a disability, and the city also features a unique information system that includes Braille signposts for the visually-impaired. Information boards across the city are easily accessible to those in wheelchairs and most restaurants and museums have handicapped parking.
4. MILAN, ITALY
The winner of the 2016 EU Access City Awards, Milan earned its title for its untiring effort to create an inclusive atmosphere for all. Once all but inaccessible for people in wheelchairs, the city made many improvements to remove barriers for the disabled and elderly by improving its transportation system, overcoming architectural and sensory barriers and developing a commitment to full engagement with its disabled inhabitants.
5. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA
This rainy city on the US West Coast easily makes it to the Top 5 of in every ranking. The city’s transportation system has been accessible for close to 40 years, and offers discounts to wheelchair users. There is also a paratransit minibus service that will bring a user anywhere within city limits and a rideshare program for the handicapped. Special maps guide the handicapped through the most easily accessible routes of the city center. The spinal cord injury programs of the University of Washington and high employability programs at Microsoft and Boeing add to the high quality of life for the disabled in Seattle.
6. TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
This metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea has made great strides in recent years to become fully accessible for people with disabilities. Almost all of the city’s intercity bus lines can be accessed by wheelchair and include various technologies for the visually-impaired, including bus stations that read out the upcoming buses and buses announcing their line number over speaker when arriving. Strict building codes ensure that all new construction must be wheelchair accessible and almost every store and restaurant in the city is equipped with ramps, if needed. All banks and public offices offer services for people with sensory disabilities and a new law even requires all Hebrew-language websites to be optimized for screen reading software. In addition, Tel Aviv is host to a range of hotels with special handicapped-ready rooms, equipped with extra-wide doors, special bathtubs and panic-buttons in the bathrooms.