Friday, 6 March 2015

When is an accessible park not an accessible park? Gippsland South by-election early voting.



Accessibility is an ongoing issue in Australia. It makes life difficult. I hate having to call ahead or double think where I can go, but at present it is a fact of life you have to deal with if you're in a chair or your mobility is compromised in some manner. I resign myself to not being able to shop in many stores or go to certain restaurants and bars as the venue is simply inaccessible. Or often even if there is a ramp there may not be an accessible loo once you get inside. I am lucky that some days I am more mobile and can use my cane with aid, but many are the days now where a chair is my only option. On those days my options to shop or participate in the community are even further restricted.

When I see a blue accessible parking sign, even a temporary one, I assume that it will be an accessible park. Especially when it has been put up by the Victorian Electoral Commission. But no, not even that can be relied on. You can pull into a park set aside as the accessible park, by a government body and find that it is just a regular park and the bollard meaningless.

I went to put in an early vote today. There was a removable bollard indicating an accessible parking spot. So we pulled in. Only problem was that it wasn't in any way accessible despite being close to the store converted for early voting. Once out of the car I either had to negotiate up over the gutter or go out into the street and negotiate the traffic to find a portion of the street that had an accessible ramp to get up onto the foot path.


I did not fancy having to go out into busy traffic to roll along either, to the right) in between parked cars and moving traffic, or to the left) onto the road and into oncoming traffic and a busy roundabout to make my way to a ramp. So I left my chair in the car and used my cane with the support of Mr Grumpy. I managed to stumble, unsteadily up over the gutter and make my way slowly to the converted shop. Given how unsteady I was my risk for a fall was high.


The gutter I had to negotiate.

On top of that there was a step into the store where early voting could take place which would have created even more difficulty should I have been in my chair. Alone in my chair I would not be able to enter the shop.


Step into the front of the store to vote.

Disappointingly when Mr Grumpy spoke to the representatives of the various candidates out front about the poor accessibility of the site, their response was a typical 'not our problem we didn't pick it.' Not even a 'Gee, yeah you're right. We should do something about that.'

Not like we disabled folk vote. Oh that's right we do, but not for the candidates whose representatives fob them off.

What I hate more than a completely inaccessible building is when people make a pretense of thinking about accessibility. As if by putting up the bollard they'd ticked all the boxes. (Admittedly we didn't mention it to election staff inside as frankly I was just over it. If I had my time again I would, but it gets exhausting always having to point this stuff out.)

Accessibility is not a sign.

But if there is one I should be able to rely on its presence not only to park, but be able to access the building to vote.

Even should the parking spot have been valid, what is the point if the shop where the actual voting takes place, isn't accessible?

I'm not sure how this is so hard. But I do know it is exhausting always having to second guess and educate.

Michelle

1 comment:

  1. Yes or Transit Coordinators or the list goes on............. It's not until they themselves SEE something go wrong that they even begin to think about it. But rarely even then, it's so sad.

    We recently had a transit stop moved because the store was Drastically unsafe to access even for full-bodied, whole people. Just plain dangerous.

    "What maybe 5 people a day use that bus" No, more like 100 but they don't care. It's not even on their radar. Until they lose customers because we Transit riders DO talk about why we can't go there & why you shouldn't either. Why do they think we're the silent minority, I have to wonder.

    ReplyDelete

All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx