Travellers with Disabilities

Travellers with disabilities will find a strange mix of accessibility and inaccessibility in Scotland. Most new buildings are accessible to wheelchair users, so modern hotels and tourist attractions are fine. However, most B&Bs and guesthouses are in hard-to-adapt older buildings, which means that travellers with mobility problems may pay more for accommodation. Things are constantly improving, though.

It's a similar story with public transport. Newer buses have steps that lower for easier access, as do trains, but it's wise to check before setting out. Tourist attractions usually reserve parking spaces near the entrance for drivers with disabilities.

Many places such as ticket offices and banks are fitted with hearing loops to assist the hearing-impaired; look for a posted symbol of a large ear.

An increasing number of tourist attractions have audioguides. Some have Braille guides or scented gardens for the visually impaired.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

VisitScotland (www.visitscotland.com/accommodation) Details accessible accommodation; many tourist offices have leaflets with accessibility details for their area. Also produces the guide Accessible Scotland for travellers using wheelchairs. Many regions have organisations that hire out wheelchairs; contact the local tourist office for details. Many nature trails have been adapted for wheelchair use.

Disability Rights UK This is an umbrella organisation for voluntary groups for people with disabilities. Many wheelchair-accessible toilets can be opened only with a special Royal Association of Disability & Rehabilitation (Radar) key, which can be obtained via the website or from tourist offices for £5.40.

Disabled Persons Railcard (www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk) Discounted train travel. Costs £20.

Tourism for All Publishes regional information guides for travellers with disabilities and can offer general advice.