January 11, 2010
Disabled Greeks face daily challenges getting around

It’s been 20 years since the U.S. Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, guaranteeing disabled Americans protection under the law.

That is not always the case in other countries.

During a reporting trip to Greece last summer, correspondent and producer Megan Thompson met a young woman who showed her just how challenging Athens life can be in a wheelchair.

Find out more about Disability NOW, the group covered in our Signature video.

And, learn more about the first blind woman in the Greek parliament, Eleftheria Bernidaki-Aldous, who is profiled in our story.

See more Worldfocus coverage on Greek Technology for the Disabled.




Dr. Bernidaki put the issues pertaining to disabilities at the center of Greek politics for the first time. A true pioneer.


[…] Disabled Greeks face daily challenges getting around – first of a series on disability rights overseas on Worldfocus. The second part is For the blind in Greece technolgy offers hope of access | Worldfocus […]


You’ve got to be joking!!!! This poor woman cannot drive her motorized wheelchair on every sidewalk? What about the crippled people in third world countries that can’t even afford a pair of crutches? And she is whining because she can’t take her motor-chair everywhere? Get real!!!


This beautiful girl seems stronger as whole person than many of us non handicapped persons. Some of us are handicapped mentally or spiritually, which in many instances is more of a challenge to overcome. This report is a reminder to ALL of us that its our attitudes that shape the quality of our lives. Bravo!


[…] See the original post: Disabled Greeks face daily challenges getting around | Worldfocus […]


You think Greece has problems think again.
In America in the 1930s polio hit America big time, to the point that Summer camps were sit up to help those who were victums, those camps lasted well after WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and are still in use during our current war.
To those who are not useing a wheelchair think of this a person will not be hired in an company if that company is located above the first floor. Since in any fire that person would be trap above the first floor. I have worked in a company where the person in the wheelchair who was needed in the company worked on the 4th floor. When the fire alarm sounded 4 people stay with him, only if it became dangerous was he to be moved down the stairs. This a problem when hireing people in wheelchairs or those who are disable in any way. Or being a 350 pound women being told that she goes last because otherwise she will block the stairwell. Think of the highrise apartment building with older folks who are in wheelchairs, who if there is a fire are on their own. Fire Department fire fighters are not equipment to handle the disable.
Medical Science can work wonders keeping people with disabilities alive, but not happy.


After watching a girl in Greece having to go blocks out of here way because public works is to lazy to pour some concrete.
So i invented the Port-Ramp a portable ramp for people in wheel chairs to over come poor city planning.
here is a virtual model of the Port-Ramp in action


They should make a petition to take it around in there City where they live and have people sign them so they can start gettting things taken care of. I’m handicapped too but my handicap is I have a Learning Disability and not bounded in a wheelchair. Yours Sincerely, Suzanne U.S.A.


The employers don’t make accomodation for workers with disablity and the schools don’t accomodate the students that well?


What Greece needs to do is what the USA did: Declare war on Vietnam, lose and instead of taking care of the veterians in a proper way, just pass the Americans for Disabilities Act and build access ramps and special parking places. It is cheaper than dealing with Agent Orange or stress disorders and makes the government feel better about neglecting the real needs of the vets.


Just piece just shows how far ahead North-America is of our European friends.


Thank you so much for your incredible informative coverage on the challenges many of the disabled face in Greece. Though I’m not disabled, your report really got me thinking about what measures I could possibly take to aid and help out, regarding this very important cause.

I’m located here in the states, is there anything you would suggest I could possibly do to help out?

Thank you again for your report.


Thank you for doing this report. It’s a good reminder for everyone that no matter how fast technology improves our ability to communicate, simple physical access for all world citizens- regardless of a physical disability-should be a global priority.


Thank you for this story WorldFocus. I have been losing the ability to walk since my teens due to a rare degenerative disease called Hereditary Spastic Ataxia. I am now forty years old and walk with Canadian/forearm crutches. Since my condition is degenerative, I will soon find myself in need of a wheelchair to get around, and am currently making plans for this eventuality. After obtaining a graduate degree and working in a large university I found myself in an untenable situation. With much sadness and after a bilateral hernia operation and three broken bones resulting from falls I had to retire from a career I loved. The challenges begin before you get out the front door – living in an apartment complex which still does not provide handicap access. I’ve been fighting this battle for years now.
I have found the Americans With Disabilities Act is riddled with loopholes which make it difficult for handicapped people to contribute to Society. This is truly a Human Rights issue, requiring a complete shift in society’s thoughts regarding architecture, transportation, town planning, healthcare and compassion. It’s not only handicapped people who suffer but all of society. Handicapped people have so much to contribute, but face obstacles with every step or turn of the wheel.


I meant Stuart , not Steven.


As a disabled woman who uses a wheel chair, I find Steven’s both patronizing and mysoginist. Are we to be protected by segregation to a “safer place”??


Refer comment #4.
When I say ‘heavily used streets and roads’, I am refering to automobile traffic in general. Moving cars and trucks, often in a hurry to go somewhere. I think that that young woman would be better off moving to somewhere that is more wheelchair accessible. Safer for her.


In the USA the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) May be on the books, but in fact has been very difficult to enforce, especially by individuals with disabilities without the financial and educational resources to hire a private lawyer. Nonprofit advocacy groups can only take on certain cases. It is very difficult to bring a class action suit. The ADA varies in enforcement between regions and states because of politcal and cultural reasons.


That was a nice report. ‘Positive’ in spite of all the problems encountered by people in wheelchairs.

I rely heavily on an electrically powered wheelchair myself. I know how difficult it can be sometimes to find a ramp, or to be able to use sidewalks in some places, or to even be forced to venture into ‘traffic’. Usually in parking lots or in strip mall type settings, in my case. I stay off of (heavily) used streets and roads.

The older areas and buildings are usually the worst for this type of thing. The newer ones being built these days are usually more accessible.


Thank you for this report.Your comments on the ADA are true but misleading. Most of the USA is non-compliant with the laws and the tools for enforcement are currently very cumbersome and weak.I feel it would be a great service for all the physically challenged in the world if did more reports like this on many other countries. I would find it helpful in planning future visits to other countries.


Would you consider the mentally ill and the prisoner as disabled persons? Are those who have little or no education to be considered as disabled?


The Americans for Disabilities Act is not specific enough in its definition of what constitutes a disabled person. People in wheelchairs are usually disabled. Those who cannot learn to read, such as the dyslexic, are disabled. The blind are considered disabled. Those who are dependent on drugs are disabled. Those who commit crimes are usually disabled or handicapped by unhappy or misguided childhoods. Could your staff please give a definition of a disabled or handicapped person?

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