More Wheelchair Users Are Getting Their Day at the Beach!

Because ocean breezes and stunning seaside sunsets are for everyone.

Wheelchair user enjoying a sunset by the sea

(emerald_media /

Imagine if it were easy for everyone to get to the seashore, to feel the sea breezes in their hair and to savor the scent and the feel of seawater on their skin. Wouldn’t it be great if people of all abilities could get closer to the ocean to enjoy the thrill of a sunset, watching the sun’s rays light up the waves, turning everything a warm, glowing hue? The good news is that things are moving in the right direction!

In a CDC study, around 14% of adults in the US report a mobility disability, defined as serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs. This can make vacation planning a challenge and put some destinations off-limits. But inclusive technology companies like Mobi-mat, are making a day at the beach for people with limited mobility a reality.

They are doing this with products like floating beach wheelchairs and motorized beach chairs, partnering with more US and global beaches in countries like Australia and South Africa that are focused on making hitting the beach a pleasure for people of all abilities. These facilities are run by people interested in adopting innovations that facilitate beach access for all.

Mobi-mat has developed some exciting innovations like non-slip roll-out accessibility mats. These function like red carpets at movie premiers, taking disabled people, parents with strollers and people with special needs right to the seashore. They are made of a fine nylon mesh that is designed for people who use wheelchairs or may otherwise need a firmer surface to cross the sand.

This mat has proved transformational for people like Brian Campbell, a paralyzed father of two who recently relocated to a neighborhood near the ocean in Canada. He told CBC that he just wanted to play with his kids at the beach without relying on the help of “burly” friends and neighbors to carry him there.

More recently, Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, rolled out its own access mat, the eighth to be installed by the Department of Beaches and Harbors. It can be found near the Venice Boulevard beach parking lot,  and ends in a  “T” shape close to the water’s edge as reported by City News Service. This pathway will be available from spring through fall.

"One of the great joys of going to the beach is spending time on the sand near the water,'' said county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Venice. Now, with the use of this new mat, people who have difficulty negotiating the sand can more fully and safely enjoy a glorious day at Venice Beach.''

And more cities are working to make enjoyment of the beach much more inclusive in other creative ways. The Jerusalem Post reported that Tel Aviv in Israel has been ranked as one of the most wheelchair-friendly cities in the world by London-based Truly Belong magazine. At the time of the ranking in late 2020, the publication observed that several of the Mediterranean coastal city’s major beaches are accessible to wheelchair users, and offer disabled parking and facilities.

The town of Jupiter in Florida opened up access to its beaches to wheelchair users and people who have trouble navigating stairs via three new wide wooden walkovers. These lead directly to the sand near the water’s edge.

The Miami Herald recently reported on the upcoming construction of a wheelchair-accessible beachfront observation deck, and upgraded park with adaptive playground and exercise equipment for people with disabilities in Miami Beach.

And these plans, the creation of disability rights activist, Sabrina Cohen and her nonprofit foundation are amazing! “Planned features for the 1.25-acre Adaptive Oceanside Park include adaptive zip lines, inclusive playground equipment and a shrub maze and butterfly garden. A brick-paved “Pathway of Inclusion” will connect the park to the beachwalk. A wheelchair-accessible ramp will be constructed at the beach access point, leading up to a double-sided observation deck that extends over the dunes.”

Inspired by creative innovation, forward-looking policymakers and companies, and the shared demands of disabled people who are calling for better access to beautiful beach locations, it seems that many more people of all abilities will be able to head to the beach.

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