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Guatemala is not very well equipped to cater to the needs of the disabled. The rugged rural terrain and awkward streets and pavements make moving around for those in a wheelchair quite difficult. Particularly in Antigua where the charming cobblestone streets deter a lot of wheelchair users. While there are ramps up onto the pavement at most street corners, sometimes the pavements aren’t much better. For those with hearing or visual impairment, facilities are almost non-existent. Even at some of the bigger attractions, there is rarely any assistance provided for the blind or deaf. In terms of transport around Guatemala, the shuttle buses that travel between tourist centers are your best bet if you want to use public transport-‘chicken’ buses are a no-no. Or you can always look into renting a car or a driver who will take you from one destination to another. The airports have improved greatly, particularly Guatemala City, where elevators and ramps were a key feature of its recent upgrade. Accommodation wise, many of the smaller hotels and hostels tend to have rooms on the ground floor so wheelchair users shouldn’t have a problem there. The newer more expensive hotels have lifts, ramps and often wheelchair friendly bathrooms. There are also plenty of travel operators around that organize trips suited to an individual’s disability, so if you want to avoid the hassle of researching everything yourself that is also an option. Transition is an organization based in Guatemala worth taking a look at. They’re trying to raise awareness and improve infrastructure for those with disabilities living in Guatemala, and also those who want to visit.

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29 Jul 2010

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