This summer, Portugal has 223 beaches that have been recognized as accessible and safe for people with disabilities or other types of limitations. The announcement was made on Friday, July 23rd, by the National Institute for Rehabilitation (INR).
The “Accessible Beach – Beach for All” program now has 22 more beaches than in 2020. These are beaches that the IRN considers they ensure conditions of accessibility, safety, comfort, autonomy and independence for people with mobility impairments.
The program was created in 2004 and has been active since 2005, within the scope of an institutional partnership, at the level of Central Government, which brings together the National Institute for Rehabilitation (then National Secretariat for Rehabilitation and Integration of People with Disabilities – SNRIPD), the Portuguese Environment Agency – APA, I.P. (then Water Institute – INAG) and Tourism of Portugal.
The main goal of the program is that more and more Portuguese beaches assure conditions of accessibility and services that allow their use and enjoyment, with equity, dignity, safety, comfort, independence and the greatest autonomy possible, by all people who wish to visit them, regardless of their age and possible locomotion difficulties or other disabilities that, transitory or permanently, condition their mobility.
The mandatory requirements that determine the attribution of the classification “accessible” to a bathing area, allowing the hoisting of the respective award, are the following:
- Easy and obstacle-free pedestrian access from the surrounding public road to an accessible entrance of the bathing area;
- Orderly parking with reserved spaces for vehicles at the service of disabled people with mobility impairments, carrying a parking card, located as close as possible to that entrance and connected to it by a pedestrian pathway without any barriers;
- A network of accessible footpaths on the beach, completely free of obstacles and interruptions, which will begin at this accessible entrance and will include walkways on the beach, where this exists, and, in all other cases, a paved, firm, stable and continuous path. If there are uneven surfaces, steps will have to be complemented by smooth ramps with handrails and/or mechanical means of elevation accessible to disabled people (elevators or platform elevators). This network of accessible routes will necessarily lead to: the sunbathing and shading area (sun hats, awnings, canvas, tents), and as close as possible to the water; and to sanitary facilities and a first-aid post adapted to the needs of people with reduced mobility.
- Presence of a lifeguard;
- Information to the public at the entrance to the beach and on the municipal website, detailing the accessibility conditions and the support services available to people with reduced mobility.
The list of accessible beaches in 2021 includes 49 river or lake bathing areas (lakes) and 175 maritime, revealed the IRN, in a statement. Of the total number of accessible beaches, there are 18 in the Azores and eight in Madeira.
According to information from the IRN, the vast majority of these beaches (82 percent) provide equipment for bathing and walking on the beach for people with reduced mobility. They also comply with all the rules defined to combat the spread of Covid-19.
In the summer of 2020, the program covered 35% of the beaches officially designated as bathing waters, 85% of which already provide amphibious equipment or mechanical means of access to ocean pools that provide access to bathing for people with reduced mobility.