Transport challenges have a devastating impact on the lives of people with disabilities, study finds
The impacts of transportation problems on the lives of people with disabilities can be devastating, according to a recently released research report.
The report ‘Disabled People’s Experiences of Transport in Aotearoa, New Zealand’ highlights the ongoing challenges people with disabilities face in using transport in New Zealand and the need for a paradigm shift in how the transport sector provides for people with disabilities.
It is the result of a collaborative research project involving people with disabilities and transport consultants. The Disabled People‘s Assembly worked with transport consultants MRCagney, Cawthorn Consulting and academic Dr Lisa Stafford from the University of Tasmania. The research included surveys, workshops, literature review, and policy and practice recommendations.
“A lot of the stories reported in the research are really conflicting,” says MRCagney lead researcher Dr. Bridget Doran. “People with disabilities report that they cannot use the sidewalks, that they overuse parking spaces for people with reduced mobility and that they have difficulty using public transport, in particular buses which do not don’t stop to pick them up.”
“Taxis are expensive but necessary for many people with disabilities. There is a Total Mobility program that provides subsidized taxis, but even with this subsidy, traveling by taxi is unaffordable for many. Then, mobility taxis are not always available and they must be booked in advance so that the journey cannot be spontaneous.
“Ultimately, the impact of transportation issues on the lives of people with disabilities can be devastating.”
DPA chief executive Prudence Walker says the impact is felt in all aspects of the lives of people with disabilities.
“The social and well-being situation of people with disabilities is demonstrably worse than that of their non-disabled peers on all indicators: income, educational achievement, health, well-being and social participation.
“Transportation is essential to participate in the community; to access jobs, schools, health care, recreation, meeting friends and just living life.
“Every unusable path, bus that does not stop, unavailable and unaffordable taxi, is another obstacle to the participation of people with disabilities.
“What this report illustrates is a transport sector that often excludes people with disabilities and contributes significantly to the inequalities experienced by people with disabilities.”
“To make meaningful change, engineers and planners must work with people with disabilities, as we did with MRCagney in the research for this report.”
The report recommends a paradigm shift in the way the transport sector deals with people with disabilities.
“Inclusive access should be at the heart of transport policy,” says Dr Doran.
“The participation of people with disabilities should be measured and their movements compared to those of people without disabilities so that barriers to accessibility can be identified and removed.”
The full report Disabled Transport Experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand, a plain English summary of the research, a plain English recorded webinar and a New Zealand Sign Language interpretation of the webinar and full technical report can be accessed here: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/ research /reports/690
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