In the Media

Calls for regulations and checks against disability access standards for hotels and buildings for people with a disability

ABC North and West – Kelly Vincent interview with Annette Marner and Khama Reid

Annette Marner: Kelly Vincent Legislative Council of South Australia Parliament told Khama Reid it’s an issue she both hears about from constituents and experiences first hand

Kelly Vincent: I think that’s why we really need to get more of an understanding about what it means to be accessible and not just accessible to wheelchair users but to different people with different needs too, a few years ago I had the good fortune to travel around Scandinavia so Norway, Denmark, Sweden and I was really impressed by some of the things we saw there, even things like vibrating alarm clocks for people who might be deaf and hearing impaired so yeah there are a number of really simple things we can do to improve access for everyone and have a real benefit particularly as our population ages

Khama Reid: Is this something that needs to be regulated that hotels just can’t say they’re wheelchair accessible or have disability access and then not have to prove it?

Kelly Vincent: I think there definitely is a need for special regulations and checks against disability access standards and I personally would love to see people with disabilities, a range of disabilities, disabled people ourselves conducting those audits so that we can actually bring that list of experience and actually get people to see of course if there’s a step there, that’s going to be a problem for a wheelchair user, or if a person is deaf or blind or vision impaired, is there anything else that’s going to be a problem? So I think there’s really a great potential job opportunity for more disabled people there too.

Khama Reid: Do you find as well it’s more expensive, the woman I spoke to Patricia said that for a while there she was avoiding budget airlines because they were just so bad with giving her the things that she required to be able to get on a flight comfortably?

Kelly Vincent: yes it definitely can make travel more expensive when you’re travelling with a disability, particularly if you’re limited to particular more expensive airlines that you will know will give you greater confidence in the way your equipment is going to be treated or the way your needs are going to be met, it absolutely does come with greater expense but the other really important thing to remember from a tourism perspective too is that research shows that when disabled people travel we tend to travel in groups of four or more so when you’re not providing good access you’re not only missing out on our experience and our money, but you’re also missing out on the economic boost that comes with those other people with whom we’re travelling as well

Khama Reid: That’s another thing Patricia said, she’s got four children and getting a family room with disability access is just impossible because there just seems to be this idea from the hoteliers perspective that people in wheelchairs don’t have families

Kelly Vincent: I think that is something that you often experience as a disabled person travelling, often you might go into a room and there’s only a single bed or maybe only one side of the bed is accessible so if you’re travelling with a partner, particularly a partner who might also have a disability you need to get their wheelchair or mobility aid to the other side of the bed, it can be very difficult, I think there’s also an assumption that people with disabilities always travel with a carer or a nurse assuming the person will have someone with them who will help them with those things, whether it be the shower, hose up too high or cups or plates in the overhead cupboards, there’s often an assumption that we travel with someone who is abled bodied and able to assist us with those things and we might be travelling with a partner or other friends and family who might have disabilities or health conditions themselves

Khama Reid: This is something you raise a fair bit, are things getting any better, are people listening?

Kelly Vincent: I have found good fortune to present things like the Hotels Association of South Australia and I think gradually it is shifting, I think generally at a Local Government level we’re gradually starting to understand the importance of more accessible buildings and more accessible footpaths, that sort of thing but I think hotels really haven’t gone into our public psyche, that’s something I would love to see and will continue to lobby for, because you stand to gain so much both socially and economically by making things more accessible to not just people with disabilities but all people, particularly as our population ages, more and more people are surviving accidents and injury thanks to advancements in medical technology as well so I think we really have to get out that mindset that this is about social treatment or being nice and charitable to disabled people, this is really a universal link.