Wheelchair And Disabled Access In Cuenca, Ecuador

“Kathleen, why can’t someone answer me? I have written many times even to the Chamber of Commerce in Ecuador but got no answer. I am a retired lady who uses an electric wheelchair. I need to know if there are facilities in Cuenca to accommodate a chair. In public buildings, etc. No one has replied yet.”

–Priscilla M., United States

Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison, who lived in Cuenca for five years, replies:

“I think the reason that no one answered from Ecuador is twofold. One is that those government agencies are terrible at answering e-mails. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single answer from any Ecuador government agency since I first tried contacting them in 1999.

“The other reason is that the news is not particularly good. Generally, standards for handicapped access are far below what you’d expect in the United States or Canada. Some buildings will have ramps, but many do not. The curbs in downtown Cuenca often do have ramps at the corners, but not always.

“I’ve had friends in wheelchairs who’ve live in Cuenca and gotten by…but it’s not as easy as in the United States. That said, things have improved dramatically since 2007 (partly because the vice president was in a wheelchair himself). But they still have a way to go.”

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