European Experience in Accessibility

In terms of experience exchange the representatives of the Organization carried out a research of accessibility for physically challenged people to recreation areas in Chania, the Republic of Greece.

Chania is a city in Greece on the outskirts of Crete; it is a capital of the similarly-named regional unit Chania, with the population of about 60 thousand.

In 1970s Chania became a tourist attraction both for the Greeks and the foreign visitors.

Thus, during the research a special attention was paid to accessibility for physically challenged people to recreation areas including that to the city beach.

The city beach has a specially designated place for the disabled people and those physically challenged to change clothes, a sanitary room and a place to take shower after swimming in the sea. In addition, the city beach has special equipment to which a ramp leads and which allows such people to move safely down to the sea, enjoy swimming and return back to the shore without additional efforts from their side. Guide signs of location of special areas for the disabled people are installed along the beach.

Transfer of the disabled people to the beach is performed by own forces or at the expense of the local authorities which provide a special vehicle free of charge. The vehicle should be ordered in advance (minimum two days before); in case of receiving several orders, a group drive of the disabled people is organized.

Assistance for the disabled people and those physically challenged in terms of using special equipment for swimming in the sea is provided by the service personnel of the tavern Manos (a fish restaurant) located nearby.  The duties of these personnel include meeting such people, assistance in moving along the quay, assistance in moving down to the sea using the special equipment and assistance while returning back to the shore.  In case of absence of the accompanying person, the tavern personnel will accompany the disabled person even in the sea providing him or her with all necessary support and assistance for safe swimming.  In return for provision of assistance for the disabled people and those physically challenged, the tavern Manos gets from the local authorities additional privileges and privileges in payment for the public utility services.

It also calls attention that there are special marks for parking places for vehicles of the disabled people, which correspond to the international standards, nearly in every street and alley. All pavements and pedestrian paths have smooth topping (without barriers, obstacles, hollow spots, etc.) at the crossing places of the pavement and the road way, flat and smooth access tracks, which allows the disabled people to  move freely in the streets of the city. Thus, in the evening, when the day heat decreases, the parks and the green zones of the city fill with the disabled people and those physically challenged, who communicate with each other, play table games and feel themselves as freemen.

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