The problem with limited accessibility in public spaces

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With numerous Disability Organisations, Perth has no excuse for the lack of accessible spaces in shared public spaces.

A spotlight was shone on the recent Fringe Festival in Perth where a local disability advocate was left unhappy and dissatisfied after a complete lack of wheelchair access, despite being advertised as wheelchair friendly.

Though Fringe World claim to have actively worked hard to improve wheelchair access and have all sites approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies – this incident has raised awareness of accessibility issues in Perth.

As the election no doubt draws near, politicians are pledging to spend more money on making buildings and public spaces more accessible to disabled people, but the proof will be in the pudding.

Nationally, though efforts are being made, Australia has a poor reputation for making accessible spaces.

For one Adelaide man, this lack of planning and accessibility means he is unable to use his wheelchair when he travels to work and is forced to use his prosthetics which leave him with crippling back pain.

The limitations of Australia’s public transport aren’t limited to those in wheelchairs. Many Australians with hearing or vision impairments, struggle to read updates on screens or hear announcements for route and timetable changes.

Western Australians Jason Alford and his family are profoundly deaf. They have issues using the Perth train network when live audio announcements are made to signal changes.

“We won’t be aware of that. Changes in platforms, train cancellations and also the emergency system is all in audio, nothing is accessible for deaf people,” he said.

ABC News “The Unconscionable State of Australia’s Train Stations”

This lack of accessibility leads to frustration among people living with disability as they feel they are often unheard when voicing their concerns about accessing areas in their cities.

“Today, in 2018 it’s just unconscionable that we still don’t have cities, towns, communities accessible for everybody, including accessible public transport,” said Matthew Bowden, co-chief executive of People with Disability Australia.

If you’re searching for Disability Support Services, Perth is home to some of the most inclusive and considered providers in Australia who are working their hardest advocate for change.

So, what does the law say?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, in many areas of public life, including: employment, education, getting or using services, renting or buying a house or unit, and accessing public places, because of their disability.

Looking to the future:

As we work toward reforming inaccessible place and raising awareness of the importance of unhindered access to all communities – it’s incredibly heart-warming to see others working to make the world a more accessible place. Apps like “Everywhere Venue” are popping up in an effort to make Australians think about how accessible their buildings are.

Everywhere Venues was developed to rate disability access to venues and allow potential patrons to determine whether a space will suit their needs.

The app allows users to book a registered location from an online database.

Venues are rated based on accessibility to facilities and mobility requirements, and the app offers a ranking of the site’s accessibility.

We also recognise the commitment the WA State Government has made to develop a State Disability Plan – ‘a 10-year plan to build an inclusive community which supports and empowers people with disability.’  This initiative recognises that it is not only accessibility that is needed for people with disability to be active citizens in their community, it is also increased community awareness of the needs and contributions that all people make in their community – including people with disability.  Everyone benefits when we live in an accessible, inclusive and welcoming community where Everyone Belongs.


There’s a complete world of unhindered accessibility out there, we just need to work together to find it.