Spain is not overly accommodating for travellers with disabilities, but some things are slowly changing. For example, disabled access to some museums, official buildings and hotels represents a change in local thinking. In major cities more is slowly being done to facilitate disabled access to public transport and taxis; in some cities, wheelchair-adapted taxis are called ‘Eurotaxis'. Newly constructed hotels in most areas of Spain are required to have wheelchair-adapted rooms. With older places, you need to be a little wary of hotels who advertise themselves as being disabled-friendly, as this can mean as little as wide doors to rooms and bathrooms, or other token efforts.
Some tourist offices – notably those in Madrid and Barcelona – offer guided tours of the city for travellers with disabilities.
Inout Hostel Worthy of a special mention is Barcelona’s Inout Hostel, which is completely accessible for those with disabilities, and nearly all the staff that work there have disabilities of one kind or another. The facilities and service are first-class.
Museo Tifológico This attraction is specifically for people who are visually impaired. Run by the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (National Organisation for the Blind, ONCE), its exhibits (all of which may be touched) include paintings, sculptures and tapestries, as well as more than 40 scale models of world monuments, including Madrid’s Palacio Real and Cibeles fountain, as well as La Alhambra in Granada and the aqueduct in Segovia. It also provides leaflets in Braille and audio guides to the museum.
Madrid Accesible (Accessible Madrid; www.esmadrid.com/madrid-accesible) Your first stop for more information on accessibility for travellers in Madrid should be the tourist section known as 'Madrid Accesible', where you can download a PDF of their excellent Guía de Turismo Accesible in English or Spanish. It has an exhaustive list of the city’s attractions and transport and a detailed assessment of their accessibility, as well as a list of accessible restaurants. Most tourist offices in Madrid have a mapa turístico accesible in Spanish, English and French
Accessible Travel & Leisure Claims to be the biggest UK travel agent dealing with travel for people with a disability, and encourages independent travel. Spain is one of the countries it covers in detail.
Barcelona Turisme Website devoted to making Barcelona accessible for visitors with a disability.
ONCE The Spanish association for those who are blind. You may be able to get hold of guides in Braille to Madrid, although they’re not published every year.
Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (www.sath.org) A good resource, which gives advice on how to travel with a wheelchair, kidney disease, sight impairment or deafness.
Metro or tram lines, or stations built (or upgraded) since the late 1990s, generally have elevators for wheelchair access, but the older lines can be ill-equipped (including many of Madrid’s lines; check the map at www.metromadrid.es). Even in stations with wheelchair access, not all platforms necessarily have functioning escalators or elevators.
The single-deck piso bajo (low floor) buses are now commonplace in most Spanish cities. They have no steps inside and in some cases have ramps that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If you call any taxi company and ask for a ‘Eurotaxi’ you should be sent one adapted for wheelchair users.
Accessible Travel Online Resources
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.