Outdated Disability Signage….A Sign of The Times?

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I have been thinking about current signage for people with disabilities and I believe it’s about time for a review or better still an overhaul. Our airports, shopping centres and the like use ‘the wheelchair’ as a generic symbol to represent disability.

My point is that ‘not all disabilities are visible’ and is the wheelchair symbol relevant in our complex and diverse modern world? What about people with cancer, down syndrome, diabetes, dementia and the list goes on. I certainly am not downplaying or discriminating against people in wheelchairs but moreso calling for a positive and unified NATIONAL SYMBOL that encompasses anyone requiring ‘extra assistance’.

While we are at it….. the word ‘disability’ is so condescending and immediately puts people on a lower rung. We must treat everyone with respect and dignity, and here would be a great place to start.

I remember in the 80’s when businesses were rapidly installing the long overdue wheelchair access ramps and rails etc, but times have changed and so have the requirements. The amount of people with dementia is rapidly rising and with no cure and constantly diminishing funding something is going to give.

Wouldn’t it be great if our councils, charities and service providers could work together towards common goals such as parks and playgrounds that combine relevant equipment, signage, fencing, pathways and most importantly bathroom facilities. Perhaps we should call them ‘Care Playgrounds’ and ‘Care Parks’ and have an ‘all inclusive’ mindset where all people are considered in the planning? Combine funding to build better quality facilities and get better results may be a better option also?

I have heard about some airports calling their disabled toilets ‘Accessible Toilets’ which is a positive step forward in the interim…but can we do better than this?

Our airports now offer ‘prayer rooms’, wouldn’t it be great to have several accessible ‘quiet rooms’ for whoever needs them? Knowing the requirements of people with dementia this would certainly be a better use of resources amongst a busy and confusing environment, and once again be ‘all inclusive’.

Brisbane airport is leading the charge with training programs, signage changes, and more overall awareness. Let’s hope we can extend the push into other areas and start looking after everyone equally. The Hills Councils, Community and Dementia Workgroup are working on a Dementia Friendly Park in Mt Barker as well.

Something to certainly ponder….


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