Thinking about disability access requires no more thought than simply thinking about good access.
Yesterday I picked up a parcel from Toll’s priority depot in Botany. It’s a massive building and through the office window where I sat waiting for my parcel I could catch a snippet of the parcel logistics – large slides for some kind of sorting process. I really wanted to see more. Fascinating stuff. They should do tours!
So, a staff members wheels out this trolley upon which sat no less than 30-40 boxes for the enterprising young woman fidgeting next to me. “Internet sales”, I thought as I sat there smugly satisfied with my assumption. She must be so desperate to meet the demand for supply before Christmas that picking it all up personally is the only way for this passionate entrepeneaur to satisfy herself that the deadline will be met. I postulated.
The man stopped at the door blocking my path to the counter. “What’s the hold up?” I look at the open entry door. There’s a step. Beyond the step is a narrow footpath and then a parked car. Clearly, the man can’t get down the step with the trolley and he can’t turn the trolley within the distance provided between the car and the entry door.
Toll. One of this country’s largest couriers does not have disability access at the Botany Priority depot’s public parcel pick up. So, I say to the man, “You know, if you had disability access into this parcel pick up, you could take all those parcels right up to the car.” He embraced the observation in agreement. “This building was built before all that” he said, correctly.
Indeed, if parcel pick up had considered disability access at all, then there would be a canopy protecting the open door from the rain so that nobody has to be exposed to the weather while they fumble around with boxes to negotiate the door. If disability access had been considered there would not be a 1300mm high counter top between staff and customers, indeed the benchtop would be at the ideal height for picking up parcels. If disability access had been considered, it would be easy for anyone to find the entry into parcel pick up because wayfinding devices for those with diminished eyesight would familiarise everyone with the appropriate route. If disability access had been considered there would be at least one accessible car space provided and an accessible path of travel to it. Of course, there would be no steps and there would be a reasonable circulation space provided at the door. Suitable access would then be used by people like the entrenearial ebay warrier sitting next to me, and the cheerfully helpful man from Toll, to trolley her parcels directly to her vehicle instead of picking them up, one by one 30-40 times, both of them rushing back and forth to her car just three days out from Christmas. Instead, he could efficiently fetch my box of champaign and I would not be sitting there blogging.
Disability access, or the want of it, affects everyone. If we all asked “What would Stephen Hawking do”, the world would be a whole other level of smart, and we would start to notice these things that matter as a community. We would not even notice disability access until it was missing.
Toll have done nothing particularly wrong at their depot because it is an existing building, except Toll are exposing themselves to a potential claim under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. They don’t deserve to be singled out because these access issues are everywhere you want to look. Just look for yourself and say something about it. That’s what we do.