This blog was started over extreme frustration due to the complete lack of concern or adherement to laws and rules regarding the disabled community. I intend, in that vane, to name and flame the offenders. But to simply dump on the bad guys just makes me a whinging aussie.
Today I went to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast city of Mooloolaba and from the first footpath and access ramp to the Surf Life Saving Club, with not 1 but 2 disabled ramps into their building and a crew who helped me into a beach chair, pushed my not so little frame onto the sand this town has got it right. Sure there are a few cracks and a couple of stores that have a step & no ramp overall the town has gone out of its way for the disabled. Over a kilometre of wheelchair friendly linear park along the beach, several cement ramps actually down onto the sand, and cross walks every hundred metres that have no lip, no potholes and ramps at each end. These aren’t even ramps that take gymnastics to make your way up, they are at easy angles so THANK YOU Mooloolaba!
This wheelie will be back again and again. If we could only clone whomever is in charge of public works and send them australia wide. Perhaps then places I otherwise love like Jetty Rd, Glenelg and North Terrace, both in Adelaide or the likes of the Queen St Mall in Brisbane need not hang their heads in shame but thats for another post.
To Whom This May Concern: If part of your job everyday is maintaining the very sidewalks you stand on, you might look at a crack or an old manwhole cover that doesn’t quite fit anymore and think “that little gap won’t hurt anyone.” Well we in the wheelchair community have news for you: that broken sidewalk that may only be a couple of inches wide is enough to destroy either the front of the back wheels on any wheelchair or even cause injury to its rider. In the past two months alone I have replaced the front casters on my chair twice because they have dropped into crack that to a normal walking person seem like nothing, but the cost to me in repairs to my chair since Oct 2010 has been in excess of $1000. Even worse, had it not been for my partners presence and the help of a dear friend, I would have stranded on a sidewalk unable to move in the middle of a busy city during peak hour.
Cure: Its simple, every day in every city around the world a crew is repairing a pot hole, replacing a stop sign, simply make it part of their job to observe their surrounding and make immediate reports to their superiors of any damage they see. BUT when taking note, please consider it front the point of view of someone riding the streets not walking them.
Wheelchairs are not rarities and especially in times of war unfortunately more and more are necessary. There are laws in every state, in most countries requiring that hotels, licensed premises, retail establishments, office buildings and shopping malls supposedly guaranting both equal access and proper toilet facilities. Right? We wish! Time and time again I as a wheelchair user am told “of course you can get in to our restaurant. Go around the block, down the alley enter next to the dumpster and come through the kitchen,” or as an airline recently demanded I use the stairs, my wheelchair would be waiting at the bottom? When I pointed out I was disabled they called federal police not medical staff and claimed I was rudely refusing to leave the plane!
No thats not a joke! It is unfortunately all too common that the disabled community worldwide is mistreated. As a regular world traveller with camera and laptop we are putting you on notice: if you screw up, smile you’ll be on camera & viral around the world within minutes.
If you are a wheelchair bound person and you have your own horror stories complete with pics lets shame the bastards into doing the right thing.