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391 – Navigating Adelaide with Disabilities Amid Well-Intentioned Interventions

Navigating Adelaide with Disabilities Amid Well-Intentioned Interventions

Explore how Adelaide’s well-meaning accessibility interventions impact individuals with disabilities. Join us as we navigate urban living, discuss technology’s role, and uncover the community’s part in fostering inclusion. A must-listen episode shedding light on the realities of navigating city life with disabilities in Adelaide.

In this important episode, we delve into the complexities of living with disabilities in Adelaide, set against the backdrop of the city’s ongoing efforts towards inclusivity. Our guests, including David Olney, Jorja Denton, and insights from Clair Crowley of the Strong & Capable Co-operative, share their lived experiences navigating well-intended urban interventions that sometimes present mixed outcomes for individuals with different disabilities. As Adelaide seeks public feedback on its new Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, this conversation aims to contribute unique perspectives to the dialogue, exploring the interplay of technology, community support, and the broader societal understanding of disability.

There is no SA Drink Of The Week this week.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we feature the the song “Fabulous” by Rachael Leahcar, written and produced exclusively for the No Strings Attached Theatre Of Disability.

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Running Sheet: Navigating Adelaide with Disabilities Amid Well-Intentioned Interventions

00:00:00 Intro

Introduction

00:00:00 SA Drink Of The Week

No SA Drink Of The Week this week.

00:02:32 Jorja Denton, David Olney, Clair Crowley

The City of Adelaide publicly states that it’s committed to making the city a welcoming and inclusive place for all people to enjoy by working toward demonstrating best practice in access and inclusion planning. And yet, even in my small circle of friends living with disability, I know about certain interventions that are great for people with certain forms of disability while making matters worse for others. With the City seeking public feedback on its new Disability Access and Inclusion Plan by 5pm, April 2, 2024, I thought we’d get a few people around a microphone to share their lived experiences and maybe this episode might be an unusual contribution to that process? My guests today are my friend, fellow podcaster, and colleague at Talked About Marketing, David Olney, another friend made through the early years of The Adelaide Show Podcast, Jorja Denton, and General Manager of the Strong & Capable Co-operative & a social innovator, Clair Crowley.

I should note that Clair could not be here with us in person, today, but she has contributed some thoughts. I should also note that one of the most important aspects of her organisation, is its Peer Mentoring Program, which invites people with particular expertise and passion to mentor someone living with a disability to learn more about and engage in that field of interest. But the key thing is that this program includes mentoring BY people living with disability, not just FOR them. This is an important step in maturity for our society, and if you’d like to learn more, there’s a Peer Mentoring Launch Party on Thursday, April 4, from 4.30-8pm, at Hard Days Night ADL. Launch Party invitiation. You can find info about the Co-Op and its programs over at www.strongandcapable.com.au.

David and Jorja, perhaps I should get a reflection from you both by the universal, two-way flow model that Clair is developing through that program?

Jorja, can you give us a snapshot of your lived experience with a disability and perhaps a “day in the life” view of how you get on in the world?

David, could you do the same – giving us a snapshot of your lived experience and what a “day in the life” looks like for you?

Looking at The City of Adelaide’s Draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, there seem to be five main initiatives that are worth discussing and that will give us some more inroads into your lives. They are:

  • Infrastructure Improvements: The plan includes specific targets for enhancing the accessibility of the city’s infrastructure, such as footpath ramps, audio-tactile push buttons at crossings, and accessible bus stops.
  • Liveable Neighbourhoods: Efforts to create more inclusive communities include the development of sensory-friendly spaces, upgraded Changing Places facilities, and the implementation of accessible community grants programs. Now, on that, I had no idea what Changing Places were and I found this definition on the Council’s website: Changing Places facilities are best-practice bathrooms for people living with disability and their support person. They offer more space, a hoist and other customised features, providing dignified and purpose-built toileting and showering facilities for people with disability when you are out and about.
  • Events and Festivals: The plan aims to make Adelaide’s vibrant events scene more accessible through an accessible events project, incorporating accessibility planning checklists for event organisers and partnerships to foster access and inclusion.
  • Business Engagement: A Business Access and Inclusion Program is proposed to improve the accessibility of city businesses, including efforts to promote inclusive businesses and support upgrades through development of skills and knowledge in the sector.
  • Inclusive Customer and Employee Experiences: This involves training for City of Adelaide employees in inclusive practices, improvement in the accessibility of Council meetings, and a commitment to co-design and consultation activities involving people with disabilities.

I’d like to wander back through these, and we might start with the last two or three, about training and promoting Council, Business, and Event management and employees to foster better access and inclusion. And there’s one hurdle here that I think needs naming, and that is TIME. I feel that I’m under pressure to work much faster than ever before and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed when organisations like No Strings work with people with disabilities, especially in physical gatherings, we all have the calm the heck down and slow down. And I mean, really slow down. Is this a tangible threat to the success of these initiatives or a mirage created by our own self-centredness?

CLAIR: The common theme for me through starting my own business where I supported tourism operators to become more inclusive and where I am now with the co-operative, is that lived experience is where the value is, and even though everyone experiences their disability in their own unique way, the insights and knowledge that people with lived experience with disability can share with others is absolutely priceless and trusted. In tourism in particular we have seen inclusion come in leaps and bounds with the services they provide and their willingness to find ways to welcome more people through their doors, this refers to adapting the physical environment AND the customer experience. Many small – med owner operated businesses have an advantage in this space because they are in the frontline interacting with customers and they know the operational aspect of their business inside out, this means that when they listen to their customers to be more inclusive and they (usually) have the ability to adapt quickly and with a warm welcome.

One thing I think would be an amazing asset would be the accessibility planning checklists for event organisers. Anything to make it easier and not half-hearted, is a good thing. I remember talking about having Jorja over to watch a movie at our place but none of our doors are compliant. Surely that doesn’t happen with buildings today but instead of throwing shade, actually shining a light seems like a good move.

The liveable neighbourhoods section is where I turn to both of you because you both live within the City Of Adelaide. How liveable is it or is it not?

Let’s turn to infrastructure, such as footpath ramps, audio-tactile push buttons at crossings, and accessible bus stops. Can you please take me on a tour of the good, the bad, and the ugly?

How has technology enhanced your autonomy in navigating the city, and can you give examples where it fills gaps left by urban infrastructure?

Technology is one thing, but human touch and support is another. I would love you both to reflect on whether or not it is important that friends, families, and colleagues support you by going the extra mile to make inclusion possible, but I want to preface this discussion by another comment from Clair.

CLAIR: For my family, sport provided a pathway into a new life, after my husband’s accident, he was invited to play wheelchair basketball and this was absolutely instrumental in finding his way forward. Sport continues to play an incredibly important role for us, it means we are part of a community where we can connect with like minded people, contribute and participate, it keeps us fit and healthy and always striving forward. It also opened up doors we didn’t even know existed, for example we got to live in Northern Italy for a Wheelchair Basketball season and la dolce vita! In Italy it was really evident that good customer service is what makes the biggest difference to how we feel we ‘fit in’. The built environment had its challenges, but we were always met with an Italian that was ready to help as needed.

Clair mentioned sport, how important is the visibility of paralympic athletes in changing perceptions about disability, and what more can be done to support and promote disability sports?

And turning to the arts and popular culture, can you identify TV shows or movies that either positively represent disability or perpetuate stereotypes? How do these representations influence public perceptions?

What are some closing thoughts for those of us who are “not considered to be living with disabilities”, from the perspective of inclusion, and just being a decent human?

00:59:57 Musical Pilgrimage

In the Musical Pilgrimage, we feature song by Rachael Leahcar, written and produced exclusively for No Strings Attached Theatre Of Disability.

Rachael says it reflects the “esprit de corps” she experienced being in amongst the whole No Strings team for her final placement for her uni studies (Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education). And I quote:

“I looked up what esprit de corps means and I completely agree with this and all the other sentiments. This is a huge team effort and I’m in total awe of how everyone worked together so seamlessly, navigating obstacles and making snap decisions sometimes. Everyone has so much passion for the arts and I want to thank you all, as a performer with a disability myself, for giving the opportunity for people to be portrayed as ACTORS instead of characters with disability (nothing wrong with that as well, just a rare opportunity). The actors have often commented how great it is to be accepted and have their strengths recognised.”

The song has been gifted to No Strings and if you’d like to support the company by buying a copy, please contact them at nostringsattached.org.au.

As an aside, Rachael actually wrote and recorded the song in the week before the No Strings end of year showcase, AMPLIFY, which was also the week just before her wedding!

I also note that while she wrote this specifically for the show, everyone embraced it as their own personal theme song.

Here’s this week’s preview video

No preview video this week.

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free SFX from freesfx.co.uk for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal SFX, the wine pouring and cork pulling SFX, and the swooshes around Siri.

An AI generated transcript – there will be errors. Check quotes against the actual audio (if you would like to volunteer as an editor, let Steve know)

When a transcript is available, it will be pasted here.

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