We from Hostelgeeks are keen to share with you a guest post from our friend Houssaine, the lovely person behind the Disable Tourist Guide. He encourages disabled people to get out there, and explore the world. Obviously there are many difficulties to manage, and here Houssaine shares his expertise with many great tips and recommendations.
When in Morocco, make sure to check out Amayour Surf Hostel in Taghazout.
Houssaine from Disabled Tourist Guide:
More and more people with disabilities are heading to Morocco, and more of us are looking for the fun and experiences. We, like so many of attraction places, want to get off the tourist track and experience the real land of the beauty and history. Yes, that includes those of us disabled people using wheelchairs. I’ve been traveling around Morocco since I was kid — and here are some of my best tips.
Bathrooms can be challenging
Bathrooms are often a hassle, so I have learned to use creative ways to transfer into narrow spaces. To be blatantly honest, when there are no accessible bathrooms in sight, I have found ways to pee discreetly just about anywhere. You gotta do what you gotta do, and hopefully one day the access will improve, but in the meantime there is a world out there to be discovered. Bring along an extra pair of pants and a great sense of humor.
I always try to learn some of the language of the country I’m in. It cuts through the barriers when people stare at you (and they will) and also comes in handy when you need assistance in going up a curb or a flight of steps. Don’t accept other people’s notions of what is possible. If a museum lacks elevators for visitors, be sure to ask about freight elevators. Almost all have them somewhere, and that can be your ticket to seeing a world-class treasure. Don’t be shy and ask!
Finding helpful organizations for people with disabilities
I always get information about disability groups in the places I am going. See the resources listed at the end of this article for a number of helpful organizations. They have the best access information, and many times they’ll become your new traveling partners and friends. They can show you the best spots. Remember that you are part of a global family of people with disabilities.
It can be useful to contact tourism offices and local transit providers before you travel. Some even include information on their websites about accessibility for people with disabilities. Each person with a disability has unique needs and interests. Many of my friends use power wheelchairs, are blind or deaf, or have other disabilities — they all have their own travel tips. People who have difficulty walking long distances might want to think about taking a lightweight wheelchair or borrowing one when needed — keep in mind many places in Morocco don’t have mobility scooter rentals. Whether you travel alone, with friends, or with an assistant, you are in for a great adventure.
Claim your rights when needed
Don’t confuse being flexible and having a positive attitude with settling for less than your rights. I expect equal access and constantly let people know about the possibility of providing access through ramps or other modifications. When I believe my rights have been violated, I do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation, so that the next traveler or disabled person in that country won’t have the same frustrations.
Keep in mind that accessibility can mean different things in different cities. In some countries, People may tell you their building is accessible because they’re willing to lift you and your wheelchair over the steps at the entryway. Be open to trying new ways of doing things, but also ask questions to make sure you are comfortable with the access provided.
Hopefully more books will include accessibility information, which will allow everyone to see, experience, and travel Morocco. Let’s work toward making that door accessible so we can all be there together.
My Advice To Travelers with Disabilities
If you don’t travel much, speak to someone with a similar disability who has traveled before. Consult with your travel agent, hostel, hotel, airline, and others to understand the services available for your trip, or contact disability organizations overseas at your destination.
About the Author El Houssaine Ichen and Disabled-Tourist-Guide
My name is El Houssaine Ichen but friends call me Houssaine. I am the person behind Disabled-Tourist-Guide.com. I live in Tounfite, Morocco, which is a high but remote town in the beautiful Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. I have 4 brothers and 4 sisters and live a simple life with my parents in our basic family home. My parents were too poor to have me vaccinated and I caught polio at the age of three since then I have been paralyzed in my legs. I use leg braces and crutches for walking but as I have grown up with this handicap I do not let it slow me down.
As an active member of the Couchsurfing community I already welcome guests to Khenifra and Meknes, as well as hosting couchsurfers in my village in Tounfite and arranging tours for them all over Morocco if they want. My mission is to develop and champion disabled-led tourism in Morocco. If you would like to explore the beauty of Morocco with me I would love to be your guide! Please feel free to contact me to explore the possibilities!
Tattva Design Hostel Oporto is handicap accessible
As a last note we from Hostelgeeks would like to mention one hostel going the extra mile for handicapped people. The Tattva Design Hostel in Porto put a lot of effort and money into this accessibility to include ever single traveler! Every floor, the kitchen, the restaurant, and even the terrace is accessible for handicapped individuals. This is something very special for hostels around the world, and by far not standard.