Accessibility of beaches for PRMs: the main principles

All establishments open to the public (ERP) and facilities open to the public (IOP) are required to comply with current legislation on accessibility. The law requires specific arrangements to be made for people with disabilities or reduced mobility, to make it easier for them to get around. This advice sheet sets out the main principles to be borne in mind and applied when making beaches accessible to people with disabilities or reduced mobility.

What does the law say about beach accessibility in France?

Law no. 2005-102 of 11/02/2005 on equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship for people with disabilities stipulates that establishments open to the public (ERP) and, under certain conditions, facilities open to the public (IOP) must be accessible to all.

The interministerial circular of 30/11/2007 states that there is no regulatory definition of IOPs. These are spaces, places or equipment that must be accessible even though they are not covered by the safety rules, due to their nature or characteristics.

The following are therefore considered to be IOPs:
– public or private spaces serving public buildings,
– facilities attached to a public amenity centre: main walkways in public gardens, non-floating parts of marinas, various open-air facilities including grandstands and bleachers
, etc. strong, lb- the undeveloped parts of campsites and other sites developed for tourist accommodation.

The following are not considered as IOPs:
– development of roads and public spaces,
– Developments in natural environments such as hiking trails and beaches;
– mobile equipment linking a terminal building to a transport system (mobile gangways for access to aircraft, ships, etc.);
– sports and leisure facilities requiring minimum physical ability, such as climbing walls, ski slopes, cycle-cross tracks, etc.

As beaches and footpaths are not considered to be PGOs, one of the major obstacles is the lack of reliable information on the accessibility of these sites. Labels such as “Handi Plage” and “Tourisme et handicap” (Tourism and the Disabled) give the public access to safe, well-equipped sites.

Réglementation applicable pour l'accessibilité des plages aux personnes handicapées ou à mobilité réduite

What facilities and equipment are needed to make a beach accessible to people with reduced mobility or disabilities?

  1. The path to the beach: The path between the parking area (or drop-off point) and the entrance to the site must be passable (no obstacles, loose or slippery ground). Guide strips must therefore be provided between the two. If there are differences in level, an access ramp with a maximum gradient of 5% is required.
  2. The beach: An area can be set aside for disabled people and those accompanying them (reception area). It will be indicated by simple, clear signage. A parking area can also be created near the bathing area. The access path to the bathing area, first-aid posts, showers, toilets and reception area must be passable. Between each location you can install :
    – A wooden path resting on the sand with, if possible, a wheel chaser to guide blind people,
    – A colour-coded beach mat for the visually impaired,
    – Signage to indicate each zone
  3. The first-aid post: The first-aid post must be accessible and close to the reception area.
  4. Swimming: Special wheelchairs are available for swimming and getting around..
    – The Tiralo2 has floats for swimming and balloon wheels for walking on sandy or pebble beaches,
    – The beach/all-terrain seahorse is adapted to soft ground such as beaches. It can be used alone or with others. It can enter the water but does not float with its user.
    – The Sofao can be used for swimming thanks to its float-stabilisers and for walking on the beach thanks to its double wheels.
    – The JOB chair is a launching chair. It converts into a deckchair for sunbathing and its balloon wheels make it easy to move around.
    These launching chairs can be made available to users and attached to the first-aid station.
  5. Changing rooms, showers and toilets: These facilities must be located close to the reception area.
    – Accessible washrooms in compliance with regulations.
    – Accessible showers with easy-to-use push-button (90 cm high).
    – Adapted changing rooms with seat, horizontal grab bar and coat hooks.