It’s been a while since I’ve had a good old moan about something, so strap yourself in. Because I am cross about something today.
BC, Bean and I were at the shops. We wanted to buy something from one of those cheap $2 type shops – you know, the shops with cheap products of all description, often poking out of every corner and overflowing out the front door.
GREAT places to get a bargain, but not particularly good on the access front!
I was pushing Bean in his stroller (navigating my way AROUND all the items not stacked on shelves but on the floor) and BC was in his walker, following me down an aisle when he accidentally knocked something over – I should point out that it was something that was IN the aisle, not on a shelf. I pushed it out of the way and we kept walking.
A few minutes later he knocked something else over – again, an item NOT on a shelf, but in the aisle.
This time, the shop assistant came down the aisle and told me I needed my son to be more careful.
I told her that she needed to arrange her shop more carefully as there should be clear access to all aisles.
“We won’t be responsible if something falls on him” she said gruffly, “and you’ll need to pay for anything that gets broken”.
Now that got my ire up, totally.
I know that as a parent I need to be responsible for my children in a shop and I am. But it got me thinking about what THEIR responsibility is to provide access to everyone.
If it’s hard enough for a little boy in a small walking frame to access a shop set up like this, so I am sure it’s near on impossible for an adult in an adult sized wheelchair. And then there is the risk factor for someone with vision impairment trying to navigate their way around the obstacle course created…
This has got me thinking about just WHAT responsibilities a shop has to provide access.
I’m still learning, and getting my head around what requirements a shop has in this situation and that search has taken me to the “Disability Discrimination Act”.
I also found the Australian Human Rights Commission website which provides excellent easy to read summaries and info regarding this issue and many others. Here, it states:
Every area and facility open to the public should be open and available to people with a disability. They should expect to enter and make use of places used by the public if people without a disability can do so.
- Places used by the public should be accessible at the entrance and inside
It earlier lists ‘places use by the public’ to include ‘shops and department stores‘, so I am on the right track.
However, after a few other phone calls, I still haven’t been able to find out if there are any specific standards related to this issue or if it’s all just a matter of ‘guidelines’ – which aren’t of much use if a business doesn’t care to comply…
As I’ve said, I am still just gathering information, but I am realising that THIS ISSUE is going to be a CORE issue for BC as he gets older and needs to be able to navigate the world independently, so I am keen to find out more. I’d like to do what I can to allow for easier access for BC and to find out just whether I have any way of getting a store like that to at least ‘reconsider’ they way they display their products and make it accessible for everyone.
I am waiting for local council to call me back to find out what they have to say and will be speaking with a Disability discrimination consultant from a free legal service on Friday.
Anyone know more?
I will be back with more on this topic later…
There – moan over. I feel much better already :-)