Speaker who uses wheelchair ‘carried onto stage’ at Melbourne disability summit

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PHOTO: A speaker at the National Disability Summit had to be helped from the wheelchair-inaccessible stage. (Supplied: Jarrod Marrinon)
MAP: Melbourne 3000
Organisers of a national disability conference in Melbourne have come under fire after a speaker had to be carried onto the stage because it was not wheelchair accessible.

Attendees of the sixth annual National Disability Summit, organised by a private provider, said participants with disabilities who paid $2,000 to attend were made to sit together at one table at the back of the room.

Only 12 concession spots had been organised for participants with disabilities at the summit, held last week.

There was no ramp for mobility-impaired speakers to reach the stage and participants had to be lifted up four stairs so they could get to the lectern.

One participant, Jax Jacki Brown, said on Facebook that watching a speaker getting carried up on stage showed that “we have a long way to go”.

According to a blog post by Ms Brown, the “accessible toilet was filled with chairs and used as a storage space in the week leading up to the conference”.

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PHOTO: The accessible toilets were full of chairs and used for storage in the week leading up to the conference, Jax Jacki Brown wrote on a blog post. (Supplied)
“The food provided was up on really tall tables … wheelchair users could not access it,” she added.

Disability advocate Jarrod Marrinon said organisers took his registration fee and then told him there was no spot for him but eventually allowed him to participate.

“I was pretty taken aback when I realised just how much these people don’t really think about what they’re doing,” he said.

“I refused to sit [at] the table. The problem was the table was up the back, in the corner.”

In a tweet, disability discrimination commissioner Susan Ryan said conference organisers have been approached regarding accessibility issues at the event.

The organisers of the event, Informa, have been contacted by the ABC for comment.

The summit discussed the progress of the NDIS trial sites

Author: disabledaccessdenied

I am a disabled woman who through no fault of my own has wheels under my ass. I rely on the decency and common sense of local, state and federal goverments, as well as the retail community to abide by the disabled access laws and provide adequate ramps, disabled toilets, and not use them as store rooms or broom closets. This blog exists to find the offenders and out them, inform them, and report them if necessary and shame them into doing the right thing when all else fails.

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