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A Truly Accessible City -- A Glimpse into What's Possible

3rd Oct 18

Back in our December 2016 blog post we shared with you an Infographic that we created that highlighted some rather staggering statistics on Ageing and Disability in Australia. With increases in population size and a larger proportion of the population aged 65+, the disabled population in Australia is set to almost double over the next 45 years. This drastic change in the makeup of the population has big implications for the provision of services as healthcare, housing and businesses all look for ways to cater to the changing requirements of the population. With this in mind, the accessibility of our towns and cities is coming firmly under the spotlight. Here we look at what is happening across the globe to make navigating cities much easier for those living with disabilities and reduced mobility.

 

What’s happening in our backyard?

The councils of many of Australia’s largest cities have Access and Inclusion Plans in place that reduce or eliminate barriers to allow people of all abilities to enjoy easy access into and around their cities. Here are a few council resources for our five biggest cities:

Technology is lending a hand with the creation of smartphone apps designed to help people navigate their cities without obstruction. Notably, the pilot program launched by Guide Dogs Victoria in partnership with Public Transport Victoria to test an electronic beacon system that links with the BlindSquare app — helping people with vision impairment to navigate internal spaces — has further pilots planned throughout Melbourne. Then there is the nation’s first smartphone app, Access 4000, launched by the support service Carers Link in association with Disability Support Queensland, that provides information on Brisbane venues and infrastructure with access features such as wheelchair ramps, disabled toilets and disabled parking.

 

 


What’s going on in other parts of the world?

Chester, Cheshire, England

In 2017 Chester was crowned as the most accessible city in Europe and other cities around the world are taking note. A long-term approach to changing the city’s infrastructure has resulted in Chester’s 13th century double-level shopping ‘rows’ and hidden passages being accessible to people of any ability. Chester boasts a fully accessible public bus system and requires all licenced taxis to be suitable for wheelchair users. Chester also provides seven Changing Places accessible toilets, additional to standard accessible toilets, which offer extra equipment and space for those with profound and multiple disabilities. Access to tour guides, city centre access guides plus assistance provided via the DisabledGo.com website make it clear to see how Chester won their 2017 crown.

Washington DC, USA

Washington DC has long been hailed as the most accessible city in the USA with ease of access for those with disabilities being key in the city’s strategic plan. Washington’s metro is touted as one of the most accessible transportation systems in the world, its city bus link has numerous accessibility features plus Scootaround's scooter and wheelchair rental offers hassle-free services for visitors to the city. All the capital city’s major attractions including the White House, the Smithsonian Museums and the Washington Monument are all wheelchair accessible.


 

Singapore, South East Asia

Winning praise from the UN for its ‘user-friendly built environment’, Singapore is climbing the ranks as one of the most accessible cities in the South East Asia. Since its launch in 2007, Singapore’s Building Construction authority have been encouraging the use of accessible features in all new city developments. The flagship CaptitaGreen city office block provides physical accessible features such as wider, column-free spaces and also caters for hearing and vision impaired people with audio induction loops (to assist those with hearing aids) and braille directions on handrails. Singapore’s rail system, the MRT, has also spent the past decade making accessibility improvements across its network.

Vestner, through our network of distributors across Australia is a leading provider of access and mobility solutions for commercial, public and residential settings and we have previously given our thoughts on How to Make an Event Accessible and How Businesses Can Better Serve Customers with Disabilities. Extending these ideas further to making truly accessible cities is something we fully support and continue to be passionate about.

 

Images:
Accessible Bus Travel by Transport NSW
Subway Metro Washington DC by C Watts under CC BY-NC 2.0

Written by

As Business Development and Operations Manager, Mark’s role includes building and maintaining business relationships, and managing and overseeing larger projects, all while keeping a watchful eye out for business opportunities.  Having a background in the health and disability sector provides Mark with the necessary understanding to assist clients when considering access solutions for people with mobility requirements.

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