Disability, My Life, Travel

Disability Awareness In Spain

When on holiday in Spain, I was very aware of disability access and awareness in the country. I was shocked but pleasantly surprised by what I found.

My eyes homed in on each place we visited on our day trips, I also watched out for all the bits in the middle, looking out for the extent of disability access and awareness.

They were just subtle, but it made all the difference. An example of this is the car parking in Spain, there were a number of disabled car parking spaces at every location we visited and we were able to get a space easily.

Intrigued, we looked at the cars beside us and we found everyone in the spaces had a disabled badge or the equivalent.

Unlike in Birmingham, there weren’t any lame excuses for anyone using the spaces if they didn’t need too as nobody did.

Walking along the edge of the beach, it was flat access and I found it very easy to go to the beach in my wheelchair.

On one beach that we visited, I found that there was a number of umbrellas placed at the back of the beach specifically for those in wheelchairs to sit under and enjoy the sun, but I didn’t want to sit at the back of the beach I wanted to see it with everyone else in the middle of the beach so I preferred when we went to a slightly larger beach and that I was able to sit on the walkway which stretched all the way to the sea.

This was much better then what I was used to in English beaches, in the times that we went to the beach, I remember having to get out of my chair and leave it on the edge of the beach and sit in a very uncomfortable chair to be able to enjoy it properly, so this was much better.

Though I preferred one beach over the other the intent was clear and I felt really happy that disabled people in wheelchairs were being acknowledged and it was made so we could all enjoy it.

As I was sitting on the beach, I saw some buggies which rolled all the way to the sea, staring at them, I finally grasped that these buggies were for the use of wheelchair users to sit on and be taken into the sea.

This is a great idea as those in wheelchairs struggles to get in the sea and have a swim and this enables them to do so.

This is great for those in wheelchairs as being out of their chair and in the water as it can be a sense of freedom for them.

Personally, I love to swim, I love the feeling of the water around me and being able to move me legs and feel the floor beneath my feet in the shallow areas, it really was great for me, so I am so glad equipment is being made for disabled people in wheelchairs to experience this also.

I really enjoyed, relaxing in the sun, on the beach, listening to my iPod and writing in my notebook.

While we were out on day trips, we found at least two disabled toilets and though they weren’t radar key protected and we awaited able-bodied people to come out, they were oddly vacant.

Now if we were in England, we would often be greeted by an able-bodied person walking out of the toilet, but once again this country has more respect for disabled people and the facilities.

In the majority of day trips we were on, we were met with pleasant attitudes towards my disability and myself, however, we were faced with the odd attitude, which people spoke to mom and dad, not me.

We had waiters only hand them menus and not me, assuming that I wouldn’t be able to read and understand. I watched in silence, suppressing my true feelings and reactions, only exchanging the rolling of eyes when the waiter had gone.

I guess there will always be this form of attitude somewhere and we must have patience and correct them when they encounter us.

On the return journey to Birmingham airport, things were different. When we arrived at the airport, we alerted the airport assistance of our presence and asked for someone to meet us at the gates in time for takeoff.

Now if we were flying from Birmingham, this would be fine and we would be able to do so, but here we were literally escorted to check-in and through the airport to the gate.

We appreciated their help in getting through security and passport control and checks with my wheelchair so it was labelled correctly to go defiantly into the hold.

However, we didn’t want to be escorted to the gate, especially as we were going to sit around waiting for over an hour.

Maybe I’m overthinking it, but surely it’s some form of disability discrimination, not to allow me to go and look around the shops while waiting for the flight and instead of being dumped at the gate.

Once we got to the gate, I got placed on the rickety chair and got wheeled onto the flight. I found this considerably more uncomfortable as those helping me onto the aeroplane, barely spoke English. I couldn’t really communicate what I wanted; I had to get the air hostess to translate for me.

Maybe this needs addressing, as those assisting those with disabilities and those in wheelchairs need to be extra attentive.

They need to be able to speak good English and be able to communicate. On landing, we watched everyone unload and waited apprehensively for assistants to get me off and into my wheelchair and I was pleased to find that my chair was in one stable piece.

 

 

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