The country formerly known as Ceylon has many natural wonders and cultural gems to discover and explore. However, it is not the ideal destination for anyone affected by a disability, and there are numerous reasons for this. Nevertheless, a successful and enjoyable trip to Sri Lanka is completely possible as long as a little preparation is carried out beforehand.
Life remains difficult for disabled people in Sri Lanka. Civil wars, population displacements, repatriations and resettlements together with tsunamis, cyclones, droughts and floods have combined to significantly weaken an already fragile population. Disabled people essentially form the front ranks of helpless victims. Social exclusion, isolation and lack of understanding remain widespread despite efforts made in terms of providing care and raising awareness by various NGOs.
Integration into society, education and access to medical services all form part of global efforts to improve and create better understanding of the situation for disabled people. Sport, in particular, appears to be a potent way to get this sector of the public – who continue to be viewed as incapable or find themselves marginalised from society – involved with others and showcase what they are capable of.
When you visit Sri Lanka you will inevitably be confronted with problems related to accessibility and inadequately adapted infrastructure. The country's ancient sites are preserved in their natural state as far as possible, which can sometimes make access impossible or an endeavour of epic proportions. By contrast, all recent, modern buildings and facilities are equipped with access ramps, sloped paths and other essential features of this kind. Getting out and about can also be equally problematic. Though there are a few pavements in Colombo, there are only simple roadsides for the most part. Buses, tuk-tuks and trains are not at all adapted for use by persons with reduced mobility.
For your trip to be successful, therefore, your are strongly advised to employ the services of a specialist travel agent capable of making all the arrangements required to ensure your experience is an enjoyable one. Similarly, and with properly equipped hotels few and far between and often fully booked, it is better to organise everything in advance. With lots of organisation and enough awareness of what to expect beforehand, it is entirely possible for your trip to Sri Lanka to be a magical and unforgettable one.