People who have trouble walking or moving around often have a hard time enjoying the beach. But hundreds of beaches in Greece now offer a new way for people in wheelchairs to get into the water by themselves. It’s called Seatrac.
It can be very difficult for people in wheelchairs to move around on beaches. Most beaches don’t have ramps or special walkways to allow disabled visitors to move around easily, or to get in and out of the sea safely.
Seatrac is a system that was designed to solve this problem. Seatrac is basically a chair on a moving ramp that can smoothly carry a disabled person into the sea. Once in the sea, the person can either remain in the chair, enjoying the water, or go for a swim. The Seatrac system can help anyone who has a hard time walking, including older people and pregnant women.
The chair is operated by remote control. When the person is ready to get out of the water, the Seatrac system brings the chair back to the top of the ramp. It’s even possible to take a shower in the Seatrac chair after going for a swim.
Seatrac was invented and developed in Greece. The idea for it came when one of the inventors, Ignatios Fotiou, was talking with a friend who used a wheelchair. The friend said he enjoyed the sea, but didn’t like having to be carried into the ocean as if he were a “sack of potatoes”.
Mr. Fotiou realized that there must be a way to make it easier for wheelchair users to get into the water. Mr. Fotiou worked with his partner and a professor at a Greek university to design the system. In time, they formed a company called TOBEA to build and sell the systems.
The company worked hard to make the system simple to put in place and easy to run. A wooden walkway allows wheelchair users to reach the Seatrac. The system is solar powered. It doesn’t require outside power, and can continue to run even if the electricity goes out. The Seatrac system can easily be packed up and stored when swimming season ends.
This summer, the Seatrac system is being used at over 220 beaches in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Latvia. TOBEA soon hopes to offer Seatrac in other countries, as well, including the US.
The Seatrac service in Greece is being offered for free. The Greek government and the EU have helped pay for it, with local cities buying and managing the equipment. Greece’s government hopes that Seatrac will help attract more tourists to the country.
TOBEA also offers other special equipment to help disabled people enjoy Greece’s beaches: changing rooms, bathrooms, and shady resting areas, all designed for people in wheelchairs. The company has created a website showing where beaches with these special services can be found.
This summer, the weather in Greece has been incredibly hot. Thanks to Seatrac, people who use wheelchairs now have the chance to cool down with a dip in the sea.