Able-Bodied Assumptions and Tenerife Toilets

You would think that by now we would be evolved enough to  everyone an equal seat at the table and not hustle off those who are different in some way to the darkest table near the toilet doors.

Many years ago my mother volunteered at a local disabled organisation in Scotland. She went along as a helper  when they took a group of disabled young adults on a day trip to the coast. Her story of that day included a small incident that has stuck with me for years.  In a cafe, as everybody was settling down to enjoy a lunch by the seaside, a pretty waitress breezed by and got the attention of all the males in the group. They were pleased when it turned out to be her that came to the table to take the order. She kaiboshed the jolly mood by nodding her head at a lad in a wheelchair  and asking my mother, “Does he take sugar in his tea?”.

My mother replied, “He’s not a bloody pot plant. Ask him yourself!”

Boy kissing his downs syndrome sister at th beachYou would like to think that people were more aware of the issues that surround disability these days though, wouldn’t you? There are certainly facilities available to disabled travellers in Tenerife but I wonder if the staff in the hotels or restaurants that cater to this group of visitors are given any  training regarding their specific needs?

While some toilets in Tenerife are hard enough to manoeuvre in with full use of your limbs and others demand extremes of hand, eye and bum corordination so as not to be left peeing in the dark when the light times out, there are some that are designed to  allow access to both disabled and able-bodied people. I have often noticed though that in these the mirror is often too high to allow anyone restricted to a wheelchair to see themselves in. Maybe this is a petty point but I don’t think so. It is just one example of many inconveniences that must be dealt with every day by anyone with a disability.

The blog, Ask a Wheeler, answers questions from able-bodied people about disability. It aims to dispel assumptions such as:

Assumption #10: Physical disability is an indicator of mental disability.

Reality: This one sounds silly when spoken out loud, doesn’t it? In fact, this is quite common and sometimes annoying. There is nothing worse than going to a place where someone treats you like a child simply because of your disability.

One of the things that I do is assume that someone’s mental capacities are present unless it is made explicit that it is not the case. This is especially important for conditions like cerebral palsy; someone with this condition may not be able to speak, walk, control their saliva, etc. but may have their mental capacities completely intact.

Obviously the long ago Scottish waitress clung to that one.

Tenerife as a Barrier Free Destination

So what about Tenerife? How does it stack up as a disabled friendly destination? Well, sadly, although I scoured the net to find one, Tenerife is not a top ten destination for disabled travellers on any list I could find. I must say I am surprised. I always thought that Tenerife was relatively disabled-friendly. There go those assumptions again, eh?  Hopefully someone out there will prove me wrong and point out a respected travel publication that does list Tenerife amongst it’s top barrier -free destinations.


Resources for Disabled Visitors to Tenerife

Getting About
Orange Badge TenerifeOrange Badge:
Local No 9 Cristian Sur,  Avenida Amsterdam, Los Cristianos
Airport transfer, mobility hire and sales of mobility aids. Orange Badge deliver mobility scooters to the hotel and this is free of charge in the Los Cristianos and Las Americas area.
Telephone: From UK: 0844 5983 555 | From Tenerife: 922 79 73 55
Symbol of Wheelchair and Mobility DisabledPaul Goldney Services:
124 Los Angeles, Los Cristianos
24 hour wheelchair and scooter hire in Tenerife South. Other appliances available are electric adjustable bed, overlay mattress and a variety of manual and electric hoists.
Telephone: Landline: (0034) 922 789 604 | Mob: 695 197 755
 Blue Badge TenerifeBlue Badge Active Mobility Tenerife :
Provides mobility hire and disabled airport transfer services from Tenerife South (Reina Sofia) TFS and Tenerife North. The hire services range from standard wheelchairs to Premium electric scooters from 1 day up 30 days.
Telephone/Fax: (0034) 922 79 73 55
 Lero MinusvaliaLero Minusval :
Edf. Mar y Sol, Avda. Amsterdam 8, Los Cristianos
20 years of helping those with limited mobility to organise their Tenerife holidays with mobility hire, accommodation and even tours and offices in both Los Cristianos and Puerto de La Cruz.
Telephone:  922 750 289 | Fax:  922 750 283
 Assistance at the Airport:Monarch G-OZBS at Manchester Airport Gate 22, ...
Request mobility assistance at least 48 hours ahead of time, when booking your flight or purchasing your ticket through your travel agent or airline, 902 404 704 (from Spain) or going to the website:
Please see here for more information on requesting assistance for passengers with reduced mobility.
Barrier free Tourism GuideBarrier Free Tourism:
Arona council have established several facilities to assist visitors. One example is the Eurokey scheme which enables tourists with disabilities to have secure access to  adapted and protected facilities.For those visiting the Los Cristianos/Las Americas area, there is guide available. It goes into great detail about the various facilities available in the area, making it easier to tell at a glance if the Accessible sticker displayed by a hotel, restaurant, bar or mall is really merited.Items covered include the measurements of adapted rooms in hotels and holiday apartments including width of bedside space, height of bed, turning area, etc.Further details are given relating to the accessibility of conference rooms, disco, swimming pool, solariums and so on.
Download or view the complete pdf version of the Barrier Free Tourism Guide.

If you have any information related to disabled facilities for residents and tourists to Tenerife please share them in the comments below.  Thank you for reading this far.