The Europa Pool has proven to be a very popular facility since it was opened to the general public after the Island Games in 2019. This year will see the introduction of new accessible features at the Europa Pool. A new ramp with side bannisters that leads into the actual pool has been installed, this will allow people with mobility issues to be able to access the pool much more easily without having to contend with any steps on their way into the pool. Furthermore, an accessible toilet has also been installed, this will be very beneficial for people with mobility impairments. A section of the wall that divides the pool area and the patio area has been removed and the surrounding ground area has been levelled in order to improve access between the pool area and the patio seating area.
Since the introduction of the accessible beach facilities in 2015, people with permanent, as well as temporary physical disabilities have had the option to use these free facilities and enjoy Gibraltar’s beaches during the summer months, this has also benefitted many elderly people too. Specialised equipment, such as amphibious chairs and mobile hoists provide easy transfer facilities, under the shaded pergola, from a standard wheelchair to the amphibious beach equipment. Beach attendants are also available to provide any necessary assistance with the specialised equipment.
The main accessibility features at the beaches include ramp access from the road to the pergola units, these provide direct access to the shore via “mobi-mats” (synthetic walkways specially designed for the transit of amphibious chairs on the beach). These can be found at Eastern Beach, Catalan Beach and Western Beach. Furthermore, at Camp Bay, an accessible ramp leads to the shore and the main swimming pool is also accessible via a ramp with bannisters and also wide steps. The Bathing Pavilion features motorised hoists to assist people with physical disabilities to enter the pools.
Each beach transferring unit has a pergola that provides the facility to carry out transfers, as well as providing a shaded area for users to enjoy. Further to this, the Accessible Service Unit at Eastern Beach provides a beach tent that can be loaned out for weekly periods.
Accessible toilets are also available at Catalan Bay, Eastern Beach, Western Beach and Bathing Pavilion, with Changing Place toilets also available at Eastern Beach, Camp Bay and Bathing Pavilion. The accessible toilet at Camp Bay has also been fitted with a RADAR Key lock, which allows its use by Key holders outside of its normal opening hours.
RADAR Keys and RADAR Key locks are used in accessible toilets by people with certain disabilities who cannot use a standard toilet. Granting a RADAR Key allows the holder to have the freedom to use accessible toilets that are fitted with this special lock at any time and not just when the accessible toilet is open to the general public.
RADAR Keys may be obtained by application from the Ministry of Equality. Application forms, as well as further information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or can be downloaded from the website www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality.
Changing Place toilets offer the same facilities as accessible toilets, but also provide extra equipment in the form of overhead hoist systems and height adjustable sized benches and extra space in the room to accommodate extra carers or assistants.
Minister for responsibility for Disability, the Minister for Equality, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, MP, said: “I am very pleased with the ever improving accessible facilities at our beaches for people with disabilities and the standard of what is on offer in Gibraltar is much better than many public beaches in Europe. The summer has just started and I once again want to remind people with disabilities of the fantastic facilities available to them at our beaches. Beach life is important in Gibraltar and our tradition of going to the beach as a family should not be affected by a family member’s disability and it was this Government that introduced all the widespread accessible facilities at our beaches, so that every member of the family can enjoy the beach with their loved ones with everyone included.”
For further information regarding the accessibility features at our beaches, please call 200 71648.