Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’

I did say this series would be irregular! You can find the first post in this series here. I will update this post with links to the other posts as I create them. You can also keep an eye on my list of series to see when posts get added to this series.

As is no doubt apparent from the title, this post addresses mobility accessibility on Sydney buses.

Signs in mobility accessible spaces

I’d like to start off by considering this sign:

Sign at wheelchair area on bus

Sydney Bus sign at the area designated for wheelchairs

There are three parts to the sign. At the top, there is a yellow sticker with dark writing that says 'For more information on travelling with wheelchairs, seniors and prams ... go to http://www.sydneybuses.info'. There are also three graphics: a stylised stick figure in a wheelchair; a stylised person wearing a dress with a jutting hip, cane and bag; a stylised pram.

Underneath that sticker, there is white writing directly on the glass. This says 'This area should be vacated by passengers when required for a wheelchair'.

Beneath that is a blue and white sticker. In the centre is a stick figure in a wheelchair. To the left, the writing: 'FOR SAFETY: wheelchair brakes must be applied while bus is in motion.' To the right, the writing: 'FOR SAFETY: wheelchairs must face the rear'.

I suspect the problems I see with this sign says a lot about Sydney Buses’ attitude towards people with different mobilities.


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A woman is suing a bus company which refused to take her wheelchair (and so would not transport her).

Gemma Namey, a solicitor with [Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which is representing the woman], said the case could have major implications. ”This is a first, we believe, as there has been no previous test to enforce the standard,” she said.

One to watch, for those of you interested in accessible public transport.

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This post is the first in an irregular series about accessibility and Sydney’s public transport. I will update this post with links to the other posts as I create them. The second post is here. You can also keep an eye on my list of series to see when posts get added to this series.

One thing that I particularly enjoy when I visit another place is figuring out how to use the public transport system. I like the fact that I can figure it out – that the tools provided are tools I am able to use. Some of the tools which are commonly available (sometimes online) are: timetables and route maps, route diagrams at stations/stops and in the relevant vehicle, stop announcements (visual and audio), signs at stations/stops.

Perhaps it’s ironic, but I think that Sydney is one of the worst places I’ve been when it comes to figuring that sort of thing out. This has a serious impact on the accessibility of our public transport.

It seems to me that the people who will have the most difficulty with accessibility in that regard are (in no particular order): (1) people with visual difficulties of various sorts; (2) people who have difficulty with certain processes (including people who find change difficult or confronting); and (3) people who have difficulty talking to strangers.

What follows is a general summary of the characteristics of public transport in Sydney which may cause those accessibility problems, and then a more specific discussion of the relationship between those characteristics and the people who have the general accessibility difficulties I’ve stated above. It’s quite a long post – that’s because there are a lot of accessibility problems!


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DUFC logo

Welcome to the 18th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! (And apologies for the delay.)

This Carnival has an optional caring theme, thanks to Australian Carers’ Week (which was October 18 to October 24). The theme for this year was “Anyone, Anytime, Across Australia”, which I modified to “Anyone, Anytime” for the purposes of the DUFC.

There wasn’t much sent in on theme, so I’ve expanded the DUFC rules just a little.


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Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day, 1 May 2009. Go check out Diary of a Goldfish to see who else has posted.

Before I start, I’d like to apologise if I unintentionally plagiarise anyone. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time, and it’s highly likely that I’ve drawn subconsciously on the work of others. If you notice some specific influence that I should be linking or citing, please let me know.


I don’t think that making accommodations is, necessarily, enough to reach equality.

The concept of “accommodations” is most relevant to discussions of disability and accessibility. For that reason, and because this is Blogging Against Disablism Day, I’m focusing on accommodations for disabilities to provide equal access, even though there are other situations where the issue of accommodations may be relevant.

And, as I said, I don’t think that simply making accommodations is enough – not if you want to have an equal society, anyway.

Or, let’s say “more equal”, since it’s just about impossible to define what “equal” means. And also because I’m going to focus on the concept of choice.

I think that one of the things that makes people feel that they are being treated unequally or unfairly is when they don’t have an equivalent range of choices compared to other people.


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Hmm. The SMH has reported that members of Lake Macquarie Council will do a workshop tomorrow in order to “experience” disability.

The way they’re selling it, it has the potential to be a good thing. They don’t seem to be describing it as a way for councillors to really, completely experience what it’s like to be a person with (a) disability/ies – instead, they seem to be trying to look at specific obstacles that may be faced by people with specific disabilities, with the aim of taking this into account in designing city space.

If that results in the design of city space taking accessibility into account as a matter of course, well, that’ll be good. (That sort of thing is what I’m posting about for Blogging Against Disablism Day– I’ve just scheduled my post for that, and on 1 May, you’ll be able to find it here).

The language that’s used in the article leaves … something to be desired. For example, the headline: “Councillors step into shoes of the disabled” (my emphasis). The first couple of sentences emphasise that language and attitude – the journo refers to the councillors as “taking on” disabilities. Um, no. Just no.

But the last two paragraphs, where they refer to and quote the “community planner for ageing and disability, Jill Bogaerts”, is much more respectful. I suspect they are reflecting Ms Bogaerts’ language, even where they are not directly quoting her. Pity they couldn’t manage that for the whole article!

ETA: I just realised I may need to clarify something in my second paragraph. I’m giving the council the benefit of the doubt in assuming they’re not really trying experience “what it’s like to be a person with (a) disability/ies” – because that’s impossible, and I hope they’re not trying. So I hope what they’re aiming to do is to try to experience some of the obstacles that may be experienced by some people with some disabilities, because that is possible (to some extent), and it can be beneficial (eg: “Wow, it’s impossible to get a scooter or a wheelchair around this bench. Maybe we shouldn’t put benches in places like this!”).

PLUS because I should have emphasised it more: see Chally’s comment re people-first language, and the resource she links to.

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