One of the biggest anxieties for wheelchair users is bathroom accessibility. Every place I go to, I am always worried I may not find a wheelchair accessible bathroom, therefore I have to organize when/how much I am eating/drinking.
This anxiety is different from a place to another. In Egypt, the nearest place to my home that was wheelchair accessible and had an accessible bathroom was a Starbucks branch 5 kilometers away. It wasn’t accessible because they designed it to be, I was just lucky this branch had a big enough bathroom to fit the wheelchair.
Last time I was in Egypt, I found out this branch is closed permanently. Now there is no cafe/restaurant I know of within proximity that’s wheelchair accessible, non smoking (since smoking is allowed indoors in Egypt), and has an accessible toilet. I actually spent almost half an hour with my sister checking every cafe – and there are many – in “Gam3et El Dowal” street for wheelchair accessibility with no success. This resulted in taking all my meetings in Galleria 40, which is 20 kilometers away from where I live. It costs me around 6 dollars to get there, and 6 to get back.
In Holland it was a bit better, I knew few places that had wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Pathe cinema is one of them. All the branches I been to had wheelchair bathrooms (I once used my unlimited cinema card to get a ticket to a movie just to use the bathroom). The Hampshire hotel in Rembrandt square also has a wheelchair accessible bathroom on the ground floor right after the entrance. However, once I am outside the known, it is rare to find wheelchair accessible bathrooms in most places I visited in Holland.
In Germany it is much much better. The best I have seen so far along with US. Many places have wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Restaurants, Cafes, Train stations, even the public city bathrooms.
One of the other good things about Germany is the Wheelmap.org app. I heard about it long ago but it wasn’t very useful in Egypt because we didn’t have that many accessible places to begin with. I didn’t know the app is German until a colleague told me he used to work for immobilienscout24, they used to do field trips to public places to enter their wheelchair accessibility information on the app.
So I decided to give it another shot and it is really useful. Yesterday I was in a new place and I wanted to use the bathroom, the app gave me a nearby restaurant that has a wheelchair accessible bathroom. I wasn’t in a hurry so I went to the restaurant I was visiting, and I discovered they have a wheelchair accessible bathroom as well. So I opened the app, updated it, and found my update live immediately.