a woman standing in front of a work desk

This is the fourth call in a series of blogs on social inclusion by Nidhi Shekeran (pictured left).

In order to feel included in the community it is essential that there is accessible public transport for people with disability. Using public transport with ease allows people to actively get connected and maintain friendships and support networks throughout their lives. This all results in a good life which is a concept frequently spoken about with the roll-out of the NDIS. Independent travel gives more freedom and choice to people generally, particularly people with disability, and allows them to holistically contribute to society.

Unfortunately though there are many barriers faced by people with disability in accessing public transport. a train waiting at a train stationThese include; a lack of signage on train stations, inaudible announcements throughout your journey, poor colour contrasts making it difficult to distinguish colour changes in surfaces, no lifts at stations, multiple announcements running at the same time making it confusing for me to understand, and a lack of information about alternative transport arrangements when regular services aren't running. When transport is more of a hindrance than a help in people's lives it makes them feel frustrated and disempowered and that they do not have control over their lives. It means that people with disabilities have to factor in extra time to catch public transport and plan things in advance, organise alternate care or support people to get to places.

This is a long list of complaints I know, so here are some things that could be done to improve the situation. Staff at train stations need awareness training around different disabilities and the needs associated with that as well as simple things like knowledge regarding the m lock key (a master key that opens all public accessible toilets). The public needs to be more aware of how to give directions or assistance to a vision impaired person instead of using traditional systems like pointing or using generalised terms like 'over there' or giving directions that are vague in nature. We also need to work to stop guide dog discrimination which still occur for guide dogs users in many public places including transport. Accessible transport will allow more choice , voice and control for people with disability. It would make public spaces an easier place to be and would be a step towards a socially inclusive society.