While in Austria, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Austrian federal law mandates access to public buildings for persons with physical disabilities; as a result, accessibility has substantially improved in recent years. While many stores and restaurants in Austria still lack ramp or elevator access, most tourist attractions are accessible. A comprehensive assessment of public buildings, including tourist sites, restaurants, cafes, and hotels in Vienna, is available at the Vienna Tourist Information website.
Streetcars: Vienna’s streetcar fleet has been phasing in newer trains that are easily accessible for those who use wheelchairs. Approximately one-third of the fleet has been upgraded, although older trains with stair-like entrances are still quite common. Pedestrians need to be aware that streetcars operated on the Vienna circular ‘ Ring’ road run counter-traffic.
Buses: Public buses in Vienna are equipped with a “kneeling” capability, to permit easier passenger boarding. The center of each bus has generous space and is equipped with tether lines.
Subway stations: All subway stations in Austria have elevator access, although not at every entrance. Stations are also equipped with a ridged/raised surface to help guide sight-impaired passengers from the entrance to the platform.
Crosswalks: Motorists in Vienna are quite observant of local law and usually yield to pedestrians waiting to cross in designated “zebra” crosswalks. Major intersections also offer an audible cue for the sight-impaired to cross.
Guide dogs: Austria is a very dog-friendly country and dogs are welcome in almost every venue, including taxis, public transportation, stores, and most restaurants. In addition, guide dogs are also permitted in normally restricted venues, such as major tourist attractions.
For information regarding accessibility in other regions of Austria, please visit the Austrian national Council of Disabled Persons website, which dedicates an entire section to this topic.