On Thursday afternoon, December 7, passers by in Corbett Plaza may have noticed an information tent and a giant shiny green, yellow and purple turtle.
Following on from the International Day for Persons with Disability (IDPwD), a group of Highlands support services set up an information kiosk in the plaza with the aim of educating the community about services that are available for people living with disabilities.
Representatives from Disability Services Australia (DSA), Interchange Australia, The Disability Trust, The Benevolent Society, the Department of Fair Trading and the National Disability Coordination Office each had a seat at the information tent.
Council’s Ageing and Disability Officer Nicola Robson, who organised the event, said the booth was not just for people with disabilities to access, but for the whole community.
As part of the set up, the council ran a campaign called ‘Missed Business?’ to encourage shops and cafes in the Highlands to make simple changes to ensure their spaces were accessible for people with disabilities.
Pat Fulton, who has a hearing impairment, said “accessibility” is not limited to wheelchair access because many disabilities are invisible.
“No one can see my severe to profound hearing loss which I manage well by using a cochlear implant and hearing aid,” she said.
“Like most people I enjoy eating out with friends but so often venues are too noisy for me.”
Ms Fulton suggested cafes use acoustic tiles on the ceiling and walls, ensure there is a line-of-sight acoustic barrier between tables and the servery, and put soft, sound-absorbent hangings on the walls and open spaces.
In Australia more than 4.3 million or 18.5 per cent of people have a disability.
The definition is broad and includes a wide range of chronic medical conditions, learning disabilities, mobility problems, mental illnesses and sensory impairments.