Accessibility for All: The Australian Experience
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development of National Standards under the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 (DDA). The Standards will guide the implementation of an accessible public transport system in Australia. People with physical disabilities have been denied access to public transport in Australia and have had as a replacement segregated, purpose-built 'taxi services'. These taxi services have been limited in numbers and generally been under resourced, therefore have been unable to provide an equivalent means of transport to that which the general public enjoy. This is now changing and is the result of disability activists lodging successful claims to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), claiming discrimination under the DDA. As a direct result of 'Landmark Decisions' and Conciliated Agreements that have been negotiated within these Hearings, State and Federal transport Departments are developing integrated transport systems. A set of National Standards and Guidelines have been developed under the direction of the Australian Transport Council (ATC) to assist in the implementation of accessible transport. In June 1996 these Standards were approved by the ATC as a 'technically feasible' way of making public transport accessible and were then subjected to a Regulatory Impact. The development of this regulatory legislation has been frustratingly slow and not without issue. This information paper will outline the significant events from the perspective of a person with a disability who has been directly involved in the process. It also highlights the need for all stakeholders to work through this collaboratively rather than aggressively or defensively.
disability; wheelchair access; public transportation; Australia