Vancouver enjoys a reputation as being one of the most accessible cities in the world among travelers with special needs. Whether using wheelchairs, white canes, guide dogs or hearing aids, Vancouver leads the way in making the area a more livable place for people with disabilities through its progressive transportation systems, innovative housing and recreational opportunities.

Visit Tourism Vancouver for complete information - www.tourismvancouver.com

Vancouver International Airport

As one of the most barrier-free airports in the world, the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) exceeds the national and provincial Building Code standards for people with hearing, visual or mobility impairments. The airport's terminal features include:

  • ticket and service counters with amplified hand-sets
  • low-mounted flight information monitors designed for easier viewing with high-contrast typeface
  • visual paging monitors and public address systems displayed in written form
  • information kiosks equipped with closed-captioned decoders
  • tactile guidance maps of the terminal building
  • accessible public telephones and services for the deaf (contact the operations department at 604.207.7070)
  • accessible washrooms; facilities for service dogs are to be built in the near future
  • Airport Transportation
  • Airport rental car agencies can provide cars with hand-controls. Although there are no companies at the airport who rent ramped vans, the Canadian Paraplegic Association rents vans for use around the city.

City Transportation

In 1990, Vancouver became the first city in Canada to provide scheduled bus service to people with disabilities. All Metro Vancouver buses are fully accessible as are rapid transit Skytrain stations and skytrains.  Wheelchairs are easily accommodated and do not have to be strapped into place.  To assist the visually impaired, all stops are announced over the public address system by an automated system. Hearing impaired passengers are able to see an LED sign above the front centre aisle announcing the next stop.  

Taxis
For accessible taxi services, call Vancouver Taxi at  604.871.1111. For renting lift-equipped vans, call the BC Paraplegic Association at 604.324.3611.

BC Ferries
For BC Ferries, wheelchair-users should request parking near the elevator at the time of ticket purchase. All washrooms and deck areas are accessible. The ferry route up the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert also has accessible state rooms. For more information, please call toll free 888-223-3779 or TTY 711 or 800-855-0511.

Coachlines
Greyhound Bus Lines has lift-equipped service from Vancouver to Kelowna, Calgary and Prince George, with stops in major centres along these routes. Book 24 hours in advance by calling 800.661.8747.

Pacific Coach Lines offers accessible service between Vancouver and Victoria. Please call 800-661-1725..

Rocky Mountaineer Railtours
Rocky Mountaineer Railtours offer a two-day trip from Vancouver to Jasper or Banff with an overnight stay in an accessible hotel in Kamloops. They also offer a one day trip from Vancouver to Whistler.  The Rocky Mountaineer season is beginning May to end September.  Please call toll free 877-460-3200 for more information. 

Recreation

Most attractions in Vancouver are accessible. Several recreation opportunities are outlined below.

Free wheelchair-accessible trolley ride around Stanley Park - 604.801.5515. The horse-drawn tours of Stanley Park are wheelchair accessible.

The Grouse Mountain Skyride offers accessibility on the gondola with 24-hours notice, ask for the sales department at 604.984.0661.

"The BC Sport and Fitness Council for the Disabled" offers competitive and recreational opportunities for disabled skiing, horseback riding, sailing, sledgehockey, ice picking and track & field. For more information, call 604-598-7890.

The Mobility Opportunities Society also offers disabled sailing and other recreational opportunities - 604.688.6464.

With the BC Parks Disabled Access Pass, people can camp free in provincial parks. Contact is via the website only.  http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/fees/

Travel Planning 

The Rick Hansen Foundation has developed the Planat website to aid the disabled in travel planning.  Planat is an online rating tool on the accessibility of buildings and public spaces around the world, including hotels, attractions and restaurants.  www.planat.com

Accommodation

Under the recently implemented Access Canada program, hotels in British Columbia are graded with one of four rating levels that address the needs of people with minor to severe disabilities. Call ahead to ensure your requirements can be met.

See www.tourismvancouver.com for details and contact information for Greater Vancouver hotels.
 
Associations & Institutes

Here are just a few of the local associations and institutes that are happy to provide additional information and support to Vancouver visitors with special needs.

Spinal Cord Injury BC, formerly the BC Paraplegic Association
780 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC V6P 5Y7

Tel: 604.324.3611
Fax: 604.326.1229
Website

Gov't sponsored Website: www.accesstotravel.gc.ca

Canadian National Institute for the Blind: Toll free 800-563-2642.

Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
2125 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6X 1X9
Phone: 604-736-7391
TTY:  604.736.2527

Additional Resources

SPARC BC - provincial parking permits issued for the disabled. 

Coalition of People with Disabilities, 604.875.0188 or fax 604.875.9227.

Office for Disability Issues, 250.387.3813 or fax 250.387.3114 or TTY 250.387.3555.

To obtain a copy of "Accessible Vancouver" - 100 pages in length - $15.00 CND, please contact the Spinal Cord Injury BC, 604.324.3611 or fax 604.326.1229.