Wheelchair trial opens eyes to difficulties in Bunbury

Ashwini SaseedaranSouth Western Times

ACCESSIBILITY in the city was explored by two Bunbury women on Saturday as they tackled The Wheelchair Challenge to raise awareness of access difficulties.

After discussing the daily challenges faced by their wheelchair-user friend Margaret Holmes, Jodi Larke and Alison Gildove navigated city shopping, Diwali and PrideFEST 2017 in wheelchairs.

“The girls graciously agreed to move around in wheelchairs and they gained good perspective on the difficulties users face,” Mrs Holmes said.

“Many people don’t consider accessibility so we need to start highlighting specific areas in the city where changes need to be made.”

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Describing it as an “eye-opening experience,” Ms Larke said the day was arduous with the voyage from the inner city to Centrepoint Shopping Centre especially “terrifying”. “Navigating across roads, islands and pathways was difficult and we started noticing small dips, steps and steep ramps as big issues,” she said.

“Wheelchairs are quite low so drivers often don’t see users and being so exposed in a wheelchair makes carparks and roads a nightmare.”

Word of the pair’s challenge reached all corners of the town initiating important conversations as PrideFEST and Diwali events were ensured as accessible while shop owners began discussing hindrances upon seeing the women attempting to manoeuvre around bargain bins and steps.

Aiming to become more inclusive and accessible through its Most Accessible Regional City in Australia initiative, the women hoped Bunbury City Council, along with community members, would rethink accessibility and begin making changes.

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