Great to see you back at this week’s accessibility news roundup. It’s Friday, January 20, 2017 and we’re sharing some pretty positive stories this week! Read on to find out how wheelchair users are fighting back against injustices on public transportation and how some parks are working to ensure every child can play with their friends.

Public Transportation Isn’t Wheelchair Friendly – But They’re Working on It

How you ever encountered a priority space on a public bus? Some buses have designated sections, others have seats that flip up or stow away to make room for things like wheelchairs and baby strollers. I always assumed that people who used these spaces would be polite and considerate of each other’s needs. Which makes me wonder if I have ever really been on a public bus, because those things are usually jam packed with grumpy people who just want to get where they are going.

Apparently, the politeness just isn’t there when it comes to priority spaces either. Doug Paulley shed light on this issue a few years ago when he came up against a pretty shocking situation. According to reports, a woman on the bus had a baby in a stroller and was using the priority space. When the bus driver asked her to move to accommodate Paulley she apparently refused and the bus left without him.

This week a ruling in the case came out in Paulley’s favor, “Disability rights campaigners have hailed a ruling by the supreme court that bus drivers must try to persuade other passengers to make room for wheelchair users. Drivers may stop the bus ‘with a view to pressurising or shaming recalcitrant non-wheelchair users to move’ if they believe a refusal is unreasonable, the judgment declared.”[1]

However, I am a bit concerned that is putting a lot of the pressure on the bus drivers themselves to police the etiquette on the bus. I’m not really sure what else can be done, and I’m glad to hear that it’s getting attention. But I’m still a bit worried it’s not enough.

Playgrounds are Being Renovated to Accommodate Everyone

In yet another “this shouldn’t be an issue” story, some children can’t play on playgrounds. That is honestly such a sad sentence, and I tried to reword it several times, but that’s the issue and it’s really unfortunate. Accessibility on playgrounds is typically pretty low, leaving children who need accommodations unable to play.

Thankfully, there are some people working to change that by raising money to renovate playgrounds so that everyone can play. Centre Hastings Park even has a multi-phase plan to improve accessibility for the park. “’The third stage is adding some integrated play equipment … part of the (province’s) accessibility act says you have to have sensory type equipment and what they call an integrated playground where handicapped people can integrate with kids that are not handicapped,’ said Gordo.”[2]

Making sure that kids can plan is important, and making sure they can play with their peers and not feel different is also really necessary. It sounds like there are some parks committees out there who understand what kids need and are working to get them outside and playing with their friends.

Accessibility and Radio

Want to learn more about accessibility? Connecticut’s WNPR station came out with a podcast titled, An Assessment of Accessibility, that delves into the issue and provides some really interesting insight. Apparently, the station got the idea for the show when they created a podcast about American Sign Language and realized that people who use it would not actually be able to access the show.

It’s a good listen, and I think it gives some great insight into how the topic of disability impacts the way the world works and how human centered design can make people’s lives a lot easier. If you’ve ever been surprised by an accommodation and wondered why it isn’t more universal, this is a podcast episode you will really enjoy.

More From The UserWay Blog