Progress in Rail and Plane Travel Options for Visitors with Handicaps
If getting oneself to France and traveling there has not always been easy for persons with limited mobility, the path is now made easier thanks to efforts on the part of transportation companies.
Airline and rail companies have taken numerous measures to come to the aide of handicapped tourists: from the preparation of your voyage to accompaniments via the transformation of infrastructure, they attempt to anticipate everything.
Taking the Train
For those who wish to come to France by the train, the trip is made much easier by SNCF. A guide for handicapped travelers is even produced and is available by request.
SNCF of course offers parking places reserved for those who get to the train stations by car, but also and above all an accompaniment service taking travelers from their homes to the stations (and from the stations to their homes). A call service dedicated to this “Access Plus” is also at your disposal for inquiries about the accessibility of stations and equipment. Finally, certain trains have places specially designed for wheel chairs (including the IDTGV, less expensive and state of the art).
Access Plus Service Center:
Tel: 0890 640 650 (0.11€/min TTC)
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking an airplaine
The equivalent of Access Plus at Air France is the Saphir service, dedicated entirely to passengers with limited mobility. Instituted in more than 20 countries, it allows you to contact the company and get answers to your questions. All the telephone numbers and addresses are available on their Web site and are categorized by country.
Following the model of their international colleagues, the airports of France are clearly improving with the goal of welcoming, in the best conditions possible, people with permanent handicaps, both motor and sensory. Numerous developments have been made, starting with reserved parking places for those who wish to come to the airport by car. From there, thanks to nearby call stations, travelers can contact the assistance service, which will come get them and take care of them all the way up until they board the plane. The majority of airline companies effectively put accompaniment personnel at traveler’s disposal in order to facilitate boarding and de-boarding. The Airports of Paris also teach their agents sign language.
In terms of infrastructure, the majority of international airports are otherwise equipped with ramps for wheelchairs, and offer special vehicles or elevator platforms when telescopic steps are not available. Wheelchairs are also available for free in the interior of the terminals.
Attention: The Airports of Paris specify that it is “crucial to inform the company as soon as possible (a minimum of 48 hours in advance) that the passenger is handicapped in order to benefit from these offered services. Passengers will be asked to fill out a specific form with their medical information (INCAD documents), available in all the airports or travel agencies, which should accompany your request for a reservation.”
Traveling in France with a handicap is thus greatly facilitated by transportation companies, which have made great progress over the last few years.
A few practical details:
To facilitate your travel from home to the train station, you can take advantage of an accompaniment service and reserved parking places at the station.
To get information on the accessibility of stations and equipment, just contact the Access Plus service center at 0890 640 650 (0.11€/min TTC) or email email@example.com
Finally, to travel in the best conditions, special “wheelchair spaces” are available on certain trains.
A guide for handicapped travelers is available in all stations, SNCF boutiques, and participating travel agencies. There’s a Braille version available and soon a version in large font will also be available. To have a copy mailed to your home, write to:
Délégation à l’Accessibilité et aux Voyageurs Handicapés
2 rue Traversière
75571 Paris Cedex 12
Tel: 0 820 01 24 24 (0.12€/min)
Fax: 04 93 18 53 50
Contacts in 23 countries available here: www.airfrance.fr
For safety reasons, passengers with severe mental handicaps cannot travel on a plane without accompaniment on long-haul flights. For shorter flights, they can be admitted to travel alone on certain airlines with medical release form.