Audrey will never forget her flight between hong Kong and Paris. After a solo trip of three months in Asia, this young handivoyageuse thought of going back to France in total serenity. Except that on arrival at the airport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, she does not recognize her electric wheelchair. “The footrests were completely loose, the rear right wheel had been smashed, the shelves are fully cracked and cracked”, she says on her blog (1). This kind of mishap is the main fear of travellers covered.
“The air is the first brake travel for persons with reduced mobility”, acknowledges Marie-Odile Vincent, a quadriplegic and consultant disability in the Counter of travel. Even in observing the rules and precautions laid down by the airlines (booking assistance, 48 hours prior to departure, an indication of the type and dimensions of the chair), the zero risk does not exist. “To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is better to avoid the companies low-cost and take non-stop flights, even to pay more,” advises Marie-Odile and Vincent.
“No place for improvisation, I have to plan everything in advance”
the days of The tourism and disability, including the 13th edition takes place everywhere in France the whole month of April, give professionals the opportunity to find solutions for this customer neglected. A population that is difficult to quantify – the disabilities being considered as a factor of census is discriminating, but who does not want to be deprived of the pleasure of travel. “As early as the 1990s, people with disabilities have begun, through associations, to claim their right to use their purchasing power to pursue hobbies and go on vacation like everyone else”, explains Annette Masson, president of the association Tourisme & Handicaps, the organiser of these days.
“READ ALSO – Easter island in a wheelchair: “Nothing was impossible, it was me who decided”
If the travel offer is still far from being perfectly suited, handivoyageurs rely on their tips. “When they exist, information on the accessibility of accommodation lack of precision. Read “room available” on the Booking means nothing. So, before booking, I contacted several hotels for their accommodations, such as the width of the doors, the size of the bathroom, or the presence or not of a market. And, above all, I demand pictures”, abounds Blandine (2), one Belgian 27-year-old, who recently concluded a tour of the world for a year solo. It is also to learn about the places and activities suitable. “There is no place for improvisation, I have to plan my visits in advance. I can’t take the risk of travel to me, in the end, I find myself in front of a museum or a monument that can not welcome me,” adds Charlotte (3). Alternative: request of the specialized agencies.
“The daily life of a person in a wheelchair already costs more expensive in itself, it is only logical that the stay is also”
Comptoir des voyages offers customised stays in a thirty destinations. “To qualify their needs, the customer provides information that is very accurate: the dimensions and the weight accurate of the chair, his degree of autonomy, its ability to do its toilet only or not,” says Marie-Odile and Vincent. The agency then recommends accommodation be most appropriate, all tested and approved. Height of the bed, door width, size of sanitary, equipment for the excursions…
No detail escapes his expert eye. “A hotel’s standards perfectly may not be available if the nearby infrastructure, such as access to the beach, are not appropriate,” she says. As to whether these trips are more expensive, it replies: “The daily life of a person in a wheelchair already costs more expensive in itself, it is only logical that the stay the same.”
In 2009, Yoola has invested in a market virtually non-existent in France. The agency was first made known to them by offering tours in 100% accessible during major sporting events. And then it extended, to tourism, are more traditional. Why deprive yourself? According to its founder, Malik Badsi, “disabled people are poorly informed on the available offers. Result, they deprive themselves of from in spite of their physical capacity and financial to travel”. Comptoir des voyages, Yoola, these two specialists among other leisure sports of paragliding, game drives, quad biking or camel, and shall provide medical assistance on-site, as an option.
“countries that are less accessible physically are often the most accessible humanly”
In France, the handivoyageurs can refer to the label “Tourisme & Handicaps”, awarded by the association of the same name. This State brand, created in 2005 by the ministry of the Economy, is awarded to accommodations, restaurants, and places of recreation to meet the needs of at least two handicaps, one of the four recognized (motor, auditory, visual, and intellectual). Today, nearly 5300 sites or organizations that have this label assigned on request for a period of five years, renewable. A figure that seems rather low in view of the very large number of establishments receiving the public, tourist or not. The act, 2005 accessibility gave them ten years to be put to the standards. But between the impossibilities techniques, the constraints of heritage conservation and the cost of the work, it seems difficult to enforce the law strictly. Today, less than 40 % of these institutions are accessible.
The Paris metro has a derogation, the work being forced by the length of the network. Only a dozen stations on 300 can accommodate people in wheelchairs. But not being able to cross the capital by public transport does not go to the other end of the world.
most of The handivoyageurs adapt very well to the lack of infrastructure. “Countries that are less accessible physically are often the most accessible, humanly, note Blandine. When I needed help in Asia, dozens of people bowed by four to me.””In travel, I love to lose my autonomy. This forces me to innovate, to imagine and to surpass myself”, confesses to his side, Marie-Odile and Vincent. About Jean-Pierre Brouillaud, traveller not seeing, he says to himself, “little bothered by these issues of accessibility”. Author of the blog “The Illusion of the handicap” (4) and the autobiography Go elsewhere (Points Adventure), he says: “If everything was translated into braille, I would feel too dependent. I would lose the strength that I drew from my vulnerability. And most importantly, I would be deprived of an essential part of the journey: the beautiful encounters.”
(1) roulettes-et-sac-a-dos.com ; (2) 1000decouvertes4roulettes.com ; (3) wheelcome.net ; (4) l-illusion-du-handicap.com
For national trips, and international TER under conditions: service Access More of the SNCF, at the latest 48 hours before departure. Free. Assistance, train station and discount on the ticket of the escort. Tel.: 0890 640 650 and accessibilite.sncf.com
Saphir Service of Air France to book immediately upon purchase of tickets up to 48 hours prior to departure. To facilitate the movement of the terminal to the seat of the plane and the transportation of wheelchairs in the baggage compartment. In France and 19 other countries. Tel.: 09 69 36 72 77 and airfrance.fr
With Comptoir des voyages: 5 days / 4 nights in Seville as early as 530 € ; 4 days / 3 nights in Stockholm or Oslo from 600 € ; 11 days / 8 nights safari in Kenya as early as 2 700 €. Tel.: 01 53 10 30 15. www.comptoir.fr
With Yoola, 3 days / 2 nights from 590 € in most european cities (Rome, Barcelona, London, Berlin…) ; 7 days in the Caribbean as early as 1 790 € ; 7 days in Bali as early as 2 590 € ; tour of 10 days in Argentina
as early as 3 490 €. Tel.: 01 83 64 70 06 and yoola.fr
The guide Handitourisme of the Petit Futé is a mine of information and advice, by region and by country. 15,95 €, digital version for 6,99.