Pilgrimage for people with disabilities

To qualify for a Certificado or Compostela you must complete at least the last 100km in a wheelchair, walking or riding (200km cycling). The Cathedral is neutral about other assistance such as carrying luggage or support vehicles, and will consider giving a Compostela to pilgrims using motorised chairs if they have collected sellos in a credencial and demonstrate motivation and effort.   Each case is considered on its own merits; CSJ members with concerns should ask us for a letter of introduction and (if possible) have the CSJ tell the Cathedral Pilgrim Office by email shortly before you arrive.

In 2014 the Cathedral Pilgrim Office recorded 98 wheelchair users arriving in Santiago. Please note the Cathedral Pilgrim Office has recently moved to new premises which are more accessible to people with disabilities.

Many albergues are very basic and may not be fully accessible, although newer private albergues tend to be better equipped and may allow booking ahead. Local hotels are likely to offer more extensive facilities.

Please also note that many refuges do not admit pilgrims who are having their luggage transported or any non-walking helpers.  Whilst this policy does seem very harsh on pilgrims with disabilities, it is in place to ensure that tired pilgrims who have carried backpacks all day have a bed for the night and that bunk spaces are not filled up early by able-bodied pilgrims using a luggage transport service.  Since many disabilities are not readily apparent it is not fair to expect busy hospitaleros to have to make judgements about which assisted walker is genuinely in need of a bed.   We would strongly advise contacting places directly where you intend to stay to check admission policy, whether the facilities are suitable for you and whether booking ahead is possible.  The local tourist offices should be able to assist with your planning if you are unable to locate suitable accommodation via a web search.

General advice on the Camino Francés and information on accessible buildings:

http://www.ibermutuamur.es/camino_santiago/inicio/inicial.htm

For basic profile maps on all routes:

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/

For picture galleries of the path on various routes:

http://santiago-compostela.net/

French website with details on two methods of transport for those with disability: the joëlette and the randoline

Please note that the Confraternity of Saint James has the St Christopher Fund to help with expenses for a companion to travel with elderly or frail pilgrims who need this kind of support.  Contact us for more details if you think that this may help you.

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