Greece is making hundreds of beaches wheelchair-friendly by installing the Greek-designed Seatrac system for wheelchairs.
The system is a free service that oﬀers unassisted sea access to people with disabilities and mobility issues. It is an innovative, technological assistant that promotes autonomy, quality, and wellness in everyday life.
Speaking at a press conference on the project on Thursday, officials said that a total of 287 beaches across Greece will be fully accessible to people with mobility problems by introducing other essential facilities like parking, bathroom/changing facilities, ramps and corridors to sun loungers, and refreshment bars.
Officials said that 147 beaches have already undergone the necessary transformation to make them more accessible.
“Equal access to the sea is an inalienable human right,” said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, adding that the 15-million-euro project is being funded by the European Union and national resources.
Fully accessible beaches also help the economy
“People with disabilities and people with limited mobility are given the opportunity to participate in beach activities with family and friends, enhancing the quality of life for everyone,” the Ministry of Tourism says.
“People with disabilities and people with limited mobility can engage in activities such as swimming that contribute to their physical and mental health.”
Fully accessible beaches contribute to the development of the local economy by attracting visitors with disabilities, as well as visitors with limited mobility, such as elderly people, pregnant women and people with temporary injuries, it adds.
The Tourism Ministry has also designed a website with relevant information and a made series of short videos on the beaches that are available on YouTube.
Greece tries to become more wheelchair-friendly
Disabled people in Greece face the challenge that the country was not designed for people in wheelchairs. Even before uneven streets and steps were created, the topography of the country was rocky and mountainous.
The country has made great strides for disabled persons’ ease of movement and access since the 2004 Athens Olympics.
It recently placed concrete in some pathways of the Acropolis despite opposition from archaeologists.
“It’s a crime to wound the Rock, because it’s a monument,” architect Tasos Tanoulas said at the time.
According to the Ministry of Culture, the cementing of certain areas was part of a project to help people with mobility difficulties.
“The disabled, the elderly, people with various problems have the right to see and admire up close the Acropolis monuments,” a statement said at the time.
People with mobility issues hailed the project.
“We’ve been talking about disabled access to the Acropolis since the 2004 Olympics,” said Yiannis Vardakastanis, president of the Confederation of Disabled People.
“Now we can say that any disabled person in the world who wants to visit the Acropolis can do so,” he added.
Related: Life for the Disabled in Greece a Constant Struggle
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