Hiking for the disabled

Tourism and leisure activities have become basic aspects of modern society. The right to enjoy them is a quality of life indicator and an element of social integration, just as the right to education and work.

Leisure enjoyment forms part of a satisfying human experience and is fundamental for the physical, psychological and social development of the individual. In the case of the disabled, moreover, it can be considered a vitally important factor towards complete integration.

The Island Governments of La Palma, El Hierro and Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain), and the autonomous regional governments of Madeira and the Azores (Portugal) have acquired specific equipment (Joëlette), so that the disabled can enjoy hiking in this part of the world.

The Joëlettes , or wheelchairs adapted for hiking, are available free of charge to both local inhabitants and visitors alike – meaning that no member of the family or friend needs to stay at home, or in his/her holiday accommodation, when other group members go hiking, or simply out for a walk.

To use the Joëlette, previous experience is required, or else the services of specialised guides can be obtained.

To apply for the Joëlette, contact the following addresses:


Avenida Los Indianos 20-2º Planta

38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma.

La Palma – S/C de Tenerife

Islas Canarias – España
Internet: www.cabildodelapalma.es
Joëlette units available: 5

The Joëlette

The Joëlette is a vehicle built by the French mountain guide (and founder of the association Handi Cap Evasion) Joël Claudel at the end of the 1980s. It consists of a chair with arms mounted on a wheel (see pictures). It allows all those who are unable to walk to negotiate almost all types of paths. The aim of the device was to enable the inventor’s niece Stéphane, who had myopathy, to go hiking in the Alps with the rest of the family.

Construction-wise, the Joëlette consists of a seat mounted on a motorcycle-type wheel. Two 120cm-long arms extend from the front and rear. The Joëlette is equipped with accessories for safety and comfort: supporting legs, safety belt, footrest, disc brake, suspension, cushions, head rest. In addition, it can be easily dismantled and fits in a car boot without difficulty. From the initial handmade prototype, a manufactured model gradually evolved, presently marketed by the company CDRD (France).


Operation of the Joëlette implies a team of 3 to 4 people, depending on the terrain. Those involved are: the passenger, two operators, and a third operator acting as a reserve and aid to security. The weight of the vehicle itself, plus the passenger, should always be borne by the wheel axle. To this end, the rear operator is able to adjust the seat inclination by means of a lever, and thus achieve correct balance. Once the right balance has been reached, none of the team members bears any weight on the arms or shoulders. The front operator steers and supplies pulling power.

Communication between all team members is an essential factor for the successful operation of the Joëlette . Half a day’s practice is considered sufficient to acquire the basic technique. Given the technical features of the vehicle, almost all types of terrain can be negotiated. It is easier to walk along a path with a Joëlette , than it is to push a bicycle. The limitations lie not with the equipment, but rather in the technique and strength of the whole team.