I was invited to Istanbul in order to check-out the possibility to arrange a reasonable tour plan for handicapped persons including wheelchair users. My visit took place between May 10th to 14th a period during which some attractions such as museums are closed, and I was therefore unable to visit
The following hotels were checked out:
No wheelchair accessible rooms
Standard rooms: bathroom entrance door must be taken off it's hinges, frame is about 70cm, tub's bar side does not have any space for hand support.
3 wheelchair accessible rooms
Bathroom entrance 80cm frame is 83cm equipped with support rails, toilet height is 46cm, bed height is 56cm.
2 wheelchair accessible rooms
Bath entrance 67 cm, frame 70cm equipped with support rails, Toilet height 49cm, bed height is 56cm.
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
2 wheelchair accessible rooms
Bathroom entrance with sliding door is 84cm. tub equipped with support rails. Standard room, bathroom entrance is 78cm but door turns inside.
Side entrance to the yard is level, go back to the main entrance (level) to get into a side gallery, to enter the main hall one must overcome a threshold of about 25cm. Public toilets are located in the garden, doors are wide enough to allow access to toilet, but doors cannot be closed
Most halls and galleries are at ground level with 1-2 steps at most, there are ramps at most entrance so the visit here is easy
Herb Market - Level entrance at most gates.
The Covered Bazaar - Level entrances.
I did not get to check any of the museums which were supposed to be accessible such as the Archeological Museum or the Kariye Museum, as they were closed for the winter.
I did not visit any of the mosques as I was informed that wheelchair users are not allowed in.
There is a wheelchair accessible public toilet at Taksim Square. It was not operative while I visited the area.
Boat ride to Buyukada (Princess Islands) - The best way is to use the seabus fast boat, at post piers they have level ramps at the back boarding entrance.
The only agency who operates lift equipped buses that I know of is Denge Tourism, Mr. Herbert Solomon, Katikov, Istanbul, Tel: 0216-349-7237 Fax: 0216-347-2543.
I was also informed that according to Turkish Law wheelchair users must be transferred to regular seats during bus ride. This matter should be brought to the authorities for revision to comply with European standards where wheelchairs are restrained by harness bolted to the bus floor.
There is a need to install accessible public toilets at all the main tourist attractions. There is a need to make main attractions such as Dolmabahoe Palace accessible to handicapped persons by installing wheelchair lifts or other means. This equipment also serves the elderly as well as visitors with baby strollers.
We were informed that Turkish Airlines operate a special liftbus to board and deplane handicapped passengers, upon my arrival, no such means were provided. There is a ramped access into the terminal but we found this access locked. It is our recommendation that the local agent who operates handicapped travelers tours should be granted a special permit into the terminal and aircraft to avoid such problems and in order to have communication with the local airport authorities.
We would like to see more boats made accessible for Bosphorus tours.
Travel & Touring Consultant
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