MemberJanuary 21, 2019 at 1:55 am
Hi, my name is Ivan and I’m a quadriplegic living in Lebanon. I’m interested to shed some light on the levels of accessibility here. I live in a city called Jounieh; a coastal city that is known for its beaches and nightlife.
Adaptability in Lebanon is a fairly new concept, but I’m surprised to say that for the last few years the level of accessibility has been rising by the day and the country is adapting itself quickly overall. I began noticing a few changes here and there, ramps integrated in old establishments; handicap spots added in parking lots, and so on. And newly built establishments like malls and event venues are required by law to be accessible, and going there has never been a problem for me.
But I’m sad to say, nothing is being done to facilitate the means of disabled transportation. Buses and taxis aren’t accessible at all. I’m fortunate enough to have had a van adapted for my wheelchair, which made life much easier in terms of transportation, but I know that the vast majority of the disabled citizens would require greater assistance like being transferred into regular cars, which would be tedious for them and their caregivers (who aren’t always available) to do on a daily basis.
Drawing from my personal experience, I’ve never had any MAJOR difficulties getting around in public, for the sole reason that the Lebanese people are extremely helpful when it comes to assist people in wheelchairs. What Lebanon lacks in the accessibility department, it makes up for in the kindness of its people. I’ve been offered a helping hand hundreds of times by random strangers even when I didn’t need the help. And the few times I asked for assistance, never has anyone refused. But it’s very important to differentiate between the kindness people reflect towards disabled people in public, and social discrimination in the workplace or among family and friends. But let me reassure you, as a foreigners, this should be the least of your worries.
I guess it all comes down to each individual’s norm and what we’re used to. For example, The nightlife scene in my city is big among the locals, and there’s constant activity going on at the city center, where there’s a long, historical lane, along which pubs, bars and cafes are lined up on each side, some of which are open 24/7. Half of the cafes are barrier free, and the other half have no more then a couple of steps to the entrance. So whenever I’m there, usually with friends, they would lift my wheelchair and carry it across those two steps. I’ve learned not to get bothered by that, because it’s either this or stay home. But, this type of assistance is never required in big malls and movie theaters and restaurants in Beirut, which is only a fifteen minutes drive from where I live. I often go to the cinemas there (Which are free of charge for wheelchair users) and all-round accessible.
Regarding historical sites such as fortresses in Sidon, Tyre, or Byblos, It’s unfortunate to say that these aren’t wholly accessible. But It’s only natural due to the narrow pathways and ruins that are sometime even inaccessible to able bodied people. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to wake up tomorrow to find said sites have been adapted, which is happening gradually in many places elsewhere across the country.
In conclusion, I’m not gonna lie, disabled foreigners who come to visit Lebanon from countries like the U.S or Sweden will definitely have something to complain about here, but, for what it’s worth, you’ll never run out of people eager to help with whichever misfortune you might come across.
AdministratorJanuary 21, 2019 at 11:53 am
Very informative and beautifully written! Thanks
MemberJanuary 29, 2019 at 5:54 am
Indeed I did, https://www.weekender.blog/2018/08/21/a-week-in-beirut/
MemberJanuary 30, 2019 at 12:08 am
Ah yes! I read his post.
Interesting because I had no idea how accessibility was in 2003. I had my accident in 2006 and it wasn’t as nearly as good as it is now.
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