Disabilities shouldn't stop anyone from traveling. There are more options and resources out there than ever before.
Because of the endless flights of stairs in most buildings in Barcelona, visitors with disabilities may have difficulty getting around the city, but conditions are slowly improving: Newer hotels are sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities, and the more expensive restaurants are generally wheelchair-accessible. However, since most places have very limited, if any, facilities for people with disabilities, you might consider taking an organized tour specifically designed to accommodate such travelers.
For the names and addresses of such tour operators as well as other related information, contact the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH; www.sath.org). Annual membership dues are $50 for seniors and students. AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to pre-select top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency. Another organization that offers assistance to travelers with disabilities is MossRehab (www.mossresourcenet.org).
For the visually impaired, the best resource is the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; www.afb.org), offering information on travel and various requirements for the transport of, and border formalities for, Seeing Eye dogs. It also issues identification cards to travelers who are blind.
Some travel agencies offer customized itineraries for travelers with disabilities. One of the best organizations is Flying Wheels Travel (www.flyingwheelstravel.com), which offers escorted tours and cruises. Others include Access-Able Travel Source (www.access-able.com) and Accessible Journeys (www.disabilitytravel.com).
If you're flying to Barcelona, airline and ground staff will help you on and off planes and reserve seats with sufficient legroom, but you must arrange this assistance in advance of travel by contacting your airline by phone or through its website.
Avis has an "Avis Access" program that offers such services as a dedicated 24-hour toll-free number (tel. 888-879-42-73; www.avis.es) for customers with special travel needs; special car features such as swivel seats, spinner knobs, and hand controls; and accessible bus service.
Check out the quarterly Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com) and SATH's Open World magazine.
For British Travelers with Disabilities -- Disabled travelers from the U.K. can book trips through Enable Holidays (www.enableholidays.com) in Bristol or the Glasgow-based Disabled Access Holidays (www.disabledaccessholidays.com).
The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR; www.radar.org.uk) provides a number of information packs on sports and outdoor vacations, insurance, financial arrangements for disabled people, and accommodations in nursing care units for groups or for the elderly.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.