Under the recently implemented Access Canada program, hotels in British Columbia are graded with one of four rating levels, depending on the extent and quality of accessible facilities, services and amenities for people with minor to severe disabilities.
It is advisable for disabled visitors to Vancouver to call ahead to ensure all requirements can be met.
Since accommodations and services will vary, please be very clear about specific needs and requirements - and document what accommodations have been agreed upon.
Some helpful questions are listed below:
- Is designated handicap parking close to the entrance?
- Is there a ramp or lift to the front entrance?
- Do entrance doors open automatically?
- Are elevators large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters?
- Are all public areas accessible?
- Are rooms/suites totally accessible, with wide bathrooms, grab bars, raised toilets and roll-in showers, light fixtures at appropriate height, easy-to-open doors and cabinets, etc.
- Is the hotel contact thoroughly familiar with the kind of room requested? If not, speak to someone who is to avoid any unwanted surprises.
- When you arrive, check out the room before you check in.
See our Accommodation section for details and contact information for Greater Vancouver hotels.
TransLink is one of the world's leading providers of a broad range of accessible travel options to its passengers. Buses, community minibuses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express are all fully accessible. For passengers with special needs who have problems using regular transit, the HandyDART service provides door-to-door travel. Note that HandyDART services must be booked in advance. www.translink.ca/en/Rider-Info/Accessible-Transit/HandyDART.aspx
Timetables for the conventional transit system are available free of charge at many Metro Vancouver public libraries, municipal halls, and the TransLink Lost Property Office at Stadium - Chinatown Station. Route maps are available for purchase at FareDealer locations and maps are displayed at transit exchanges and stations. Timetable information and maps can also be downloaded from www.translink.ca.
Customers are welcome to contact TransLink's Customer Information Centre for up-to-date schedule information. An automated voice recognition system operates 24 hours per day, and information specialists are on duty between 6:30 am and 11:30 pm daily. Real-time transit information is also available on TransLink's website. Phone: 604-953-3333.
Vancouver's major taxi companies offer vehicles that can accommodate disabled passengers. Advance booking is preferred. For accessible taxi services, call Vancouver Taxi at 604-871-1111, MacLure's Cabs at 604-683-6666, or Yellow Cab at 604-681-1111.
Most car rental companies in the Greater Vancouver area offer accessible vehicles for disabled drivers. It is advisable to make enquiries and book well in advance of your trip.
Alternatively, disabled travelers can rent wheelchair vans through Pacific Wheelchair Vans at 604-597-3336.
Wheelchairs, scooters and walkers can be rented through a number of local retailers, including Scooter City, Motion Specialties BC, Self-Care Home Health Products, HealthLinc and LifeCare Medical.
Designated parking spaces for people with disabilities are clearly indicated, either with a sign that displays the universal symbol of accessibility, or a painted symbol on the parking lot space. Click here for a map of accessible parking spaces in the Vancouver area.
Disabled travelers can use their legally-issued handicapped parking permits while in BC. It is advisable, however, to carry proper documentation to verify ownership of a parking permit, since they vary from country to country and aren't always recognizable.
An alternative is a temporary parking permit. A registered charity and community accessibility advocate, SPARC BC issues temporary parking permits for visitors with disabilities. For more information, contact SPARC BC at 604-718-7733, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shopping and Attractions
Vancouver is one of the most accessible cities in the world, with shops, restaurants and cultural attractions striving to adhere to stringent building code regulations. The vast majority of attractions along Robson Street, for example, have entrances at street level, and many have doors that can open when activated. Shopping malls including the Metropolis at Metrotown are fully accessible. And the popular and picturesque Granville Island has numerous disabled parking spots, ground level or elevator entries to many shops and restaurants, and designated accessible restrooms.
Attractions including Stanley Park, Science World, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Aquarium have handicapped parking and are for the most part accessible to disabled visitors. It is always advisable, however, to check with the attraction of your choice to ensure a positive experience.
For complete information on what to see and do in Vancouver, including Family and Kid-Friendly activities, click here.
9Lives Adventures (for extreme adventure seekers)
AccessEco BC (blog on accessible outdoor activities)
BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association
604-325-8638 or 1-877-604-8638
BC Deaf Sports Federation
BC Mobility Opportunities Society (wilderness access)
604-688-6464 ext. 117
BC Wheelchair Sports Association
604-333-3520 or 1-877-737-3090
Disabled Sailing Association of BC
Disabled Skiers Association of BC
Whistler Adaptive Sports Program