Photo credit: R. Sawdon Photography/Flickr
Many Vancouver hotels are equipped to meet the needs of special needs travellers. However, it is advisable for visitors to Vancouver with disabilities 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.
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 4:30 am and 12:30 am daily by calling 604-953-3333. Real-time transit information is also available on TransLink's website.
Vancouver's major taxi companies offer vehicles that can accommodate passengers with disabilities. Advance booking is preferred. For accessible taxi services, call Vancouver Taxi at 604-871-1111, MacLures Cabs at 604-683-6666, or Yellow Cab at 604-681-1111.
The Vancouver Taxi Association and the Disability Alliance BC have launched “Ask-Listen-Act,” a new type of enhanced taxi driver training involving seniors and people with disabilities. The program is the first of its kind in Canada. Read more on the City of Vancouver's website.
Most car rental companies in the Greater Vancouver area offer accessible vehicles for drivers with disabilities. It is advisable to make enquiries and book well in advance of your trip. Check out what Avis has to offer, or check with your rental car company for further information.
KJ Limousine provides transportation service to travellers with mobility challenges in their luxurious MV-1. Their services include YVR Airport arrival and departure transfers, private tours, Whistler and cruise ship transfers. The wheelchair accessible vehicle is designed perfectly for wheelchairs and scooters, with a fully integrated four-point wheelchair and passenger securement system by Q’Straint.
Passengers enter the MV-1 from the side via a motorized ramp. The inside has plenty of room for wheelchairs or scooters to maneuver and seat the wheelchair passenger in the forward position, next to the driver. The MV-1 can seat one wheelchair or scooter comfortably, plus three additional passengers. There is plenty of room for all passengers to ride safely and securely, while still having lots of space for luggage in the trunk.
Vanwest Charters have fully equipped, certified Wheelchair accessible mini buses. Each vehicle can hold up to 2-4 Wheelchairs and 10-16 additional passengers. Their experienced, certified professional drivers assist people with special accessibility needs, servicing Metro Vancouver throughout all destinations in the lower mainland.
Wheelchairs, scooters and walkers can be rented through a number of local retailers, including Scooter City, Motion Specialties BC, Self-Care Home Health Products, HME Mobility & Accessibility 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 downtown’s Pacific Centre 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 visitors with disabilities. However, it is always advisable 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.
BC Deaf Sports Federation
BC Mobility Opportunities Society (wilderness access)
604-688-6464 ext. 117
As a world leader in providing barrier-free airport facilities, Vancouver International Airport wants to help bring awareness to accessibility issues. They are very proud to partner with Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports to make the best backyard in the world accessible to everyone!