I in 5 Queenslanders have a disability. Mine is very visible but many are less oblivious. Most of my readers are aware of my level of community participation, as an advocate for others living with disability one of my goals is to increase the participation rates of people living with disabilities in the Ipswich region.
This many be though art, education, employment, volunteering, playing sport or other recreational activities. I believe the talents and the skills of people living with disabilities are the most under utilise skills set in the region. Many people have skills to offer but society has established barriers that make our challengers more work.
I herd a interesting comment last week . . . but Debbie gets up our ramp all the time. I keep reminding my friends . . . in terms of 'disability' I am a limited edition. Not everyone who users a wheelchair can take the risks I take in using ramps that are not built to specification. It takes good core strength to tackle slopes and my poor body is feeling the effects of using footpaths over the FUSED festival weekend.
If I didn't have good core strength I couldn't do this
Many refuse to tackle the obstacles I take on everyday as I build my art business. And for many our footpaths pose to great risk. Even I am not keen to tackle this intersection today.
If we are to build participation rates of people with disabilities in the Ipswich region we need to work together to make our community more accessible and this goes beyond the physical challenges I face in getting to and from work.
We need to look at creating environments that are accessible to a whole range of disabilities, simple things such as lighting (flashing lights can set off seizures) or create visual harasses; noise can create a barrier for hearing impaired and those with sensory disabilities. Still the largest barrier for people with disabilities is social acceptance and the need for greater awareness of the nature of disability and challenging the social norm.
I encounter these daily as many believe my speech impairment points to a intellectual disability or maybe that's just sitting in a wheelchair or needing the assistance of a support worker.
However the attitude of I'll use the CBD when the footpaths are accessible. Doesn't help our caused either.
My challenge for Disability Action Week 2017 is to take 15 minutes to listen to the issues form another prospective. While participation rates are so low, he cost of improving access remain a valid challenge. If council address physical access they want value for money.
Meantime I welcome any councillor who wants to walk the CBD with me, this disability action week, but just not today!