Barrier-free travel is important throughout SouthWest Germany. And that includes holidays! Perhaps a family member is in a wheelchair and wants to explore outdoors? Or is deaf or blind? Recognising the challenges faced by families with disabled children, many family-friendly attractions are accessible, with accommodation that is also barrier-free, or barrierefrei in German.
Out and about: Donkey hikes
Donkeys have calm, friendly temperaments – and Andreas Harr should know. He lives with his family in Grüntal, near Freudenstadt in the northern Black Forest. Here he regularly organizes “donkey hikes”, where holidaymakers can take a donkey for a walk. And that includes children and adults with disabilities! In fact, they are particularly good at handling the donkeys. He remembers a 13-year-old with Down's syndrome: "At first, he was scared," says Harr, "but by the end of the walk, he was leading the donkey on his own. And did better than many of the other guests." Harr's donkey hikes usually go through meadows and woodland, but he chooses smooth, paved paths if guests are in wheelchairs or using walking frames – and if families have children in pushchairs.
Read more: harr-naturnah.de
Rolling along: Smooth paths, not bumpy trails
Enjoying the great outdoors should be fun for the whole family. And in SouthWest Germany, families with pushchairs can enjoy days out on paths that are smooth and wide. A good example are the Black Forest Highlands, where there is a wide choice of barrier-free routes between villages, such as Furtwangen, Schonach, Schönwald and St Georgen.
Read more: www.hochschwarzwald.de
National Parks: Open to all
The Black Forest National Park has special barrier-free events and programmes. For the deaf and hard of hearing, for example, there is a family overnight wilderness stay. Information about natural history is explained in sign language and signing is also used during a hike to the spectacular waterfalls near the Allerheiligen Monastery ruins. At the Ruhestein National Park Centre, there are walks and special events for adults and children with visual impairments or limited mobility.
Read more: nationalpark-schwarzwald.de/
Barrier-free adventures: Underground and above ground
In SouthWest Germany, disability is not a barrier to having fun and enjoying new experiences. Near Sonnenbühl in the Swabian Alb, the Bärenhöhle (Bear Cave) is famed for its prehistoric discoveries. And wheelchair users can go underground here! There are special wheelchairs for hire and detailed information on which routes are accessible.
Read more: Barrier-free in the Bärenhöhle Cave