As the summer season is now in full swing, the Ministry of Equality would like to remind the public of the different accessibility facilities available at its beaches.
Gibraltar is all the more inclusive thanks to all the beach improvements which have been introduced since 2012. Many people, who once were unable to enjoy the traditional family summer day out at the beach are now able to do so thanks to these improvements. This means that not only will people with mobility impairments be able to enjoy a swim at the beach, but also their families will have the peace of mind that their family member will be included in the fun.
In addition, tourists also make use of the beach facilities and this makes Gibraltar, as a travel destination, more attractive. Enable Holidays, an award-winning disabled holiday specialist, has featured Gibraltar as one of its listed accessible destinations.
Total access from the road to the beach is provided by ramps, as well as “mobi-mats” (synthetic walkways specially designed for the transit of amphibious chairs on the beach). These ramps and “mobi-mats” can be found at Eastern Beach, Catalan Bay and Western Beach. At Camp Bay, an accessible ramp leads to the shore and another ramp and wider steps are also available at the main swimming pool – go here for more details. Pergolas provide a covered and comfortable area for the individual’s transition from a wheelchair to the amphibious chair.
Catalan Bay, Eastern Beach, Camp Bay, the Bathing Pavilion and Western Beach offer Accessible Toilets whilst Eastern Beach, Camp Bay and the Bathing Pavilion offer Changing Places Toilets. Changing Places Toilets offer the same facilities as Accessible Toilets, but also provide extra equipment in the form of overhead hoist systems, height-adjustable benches and extra space in the room. The beaches also provide Beach Attendants who are there to provide assistance to those people with mobility impairments who wish to use the equipment. They, together with Lifeguards and Toilet Attendants, received Disability Language and Etiquette Training last year from an Equality Officer from the Ministry of Equality.
The new Europa Pool will also be improved to make it accessible to people with disabilities. Beaches Section staff will monitor the beaches to ensure that the facilities are in good order and they ask that any concerns are immediately reported.
Minister for Equality, the Hon. Samantha Sacramento, MP, said: “The wide-ranging accessible facilities available at Gibraltar’s beaches mean that Gibraltar is at the forefront of beach accessibility and they give the user with mobility impairments different options to attend a variety of beaches. I am very happy that these improvements have made Gibraltar even more inclusive and especially happy that the Gibraltar beach experience has been extended to all Gibraltarians. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in making the accessible beaches project a reality.”
The Minister for the Environment, the Hon. John Cortes, MP, said: “Our beaches are for everyone to enjoy. These measures will ensure that this continues to happen as has been the case since we made the changes in 2012. Summer is very special in Gibraltar and we are committed that it continues to be special for all.”