The year 1981 was proclaimed the International Year of Disabled Persons by the United Nations. It called for a plan of action with an emphasis on equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
It is now 40 years since Australia took part and based on the some of the preliminary findings, we are still a long way from inclusion and addressing some of the most basic needs for users of MMDs to get around.
We want to keep you up to date with how our project is progressing! As you know, we spent a lot of time speaking to people who have experience of living with disability. Over the last 12 months we have spoken to around 60 people in a range of different areas. Our three field sites included Ballina and the Northern Rivers area, South-Western Sydney, and regional/rural/remote areas around the state.
We are really grateful for the time and energy participants put into this project: sharing their insights with the researchers in interviews, taking photographs and making videos of their everyday journeys, and capturing black and white images for an artistic exhibition to be held in August, 2022.
The exhibition which highlights how electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are an important part of how people organise their everyday lives, will be on display at the accessible Ignite Gallery in Ballina from Aug 15-28th. We are excited to be able to provide people with the opportunity to convey their own unique understandings of living with disability and/or mobility impairment.
We will be presenting a summary of our findings from this stage of the project at the ATSA Independent Living Expo – at both Brisbane and Sydney this May. Register at www.atsaindependentlivingexpo.com.au – it’s free to attend.
Meanwhile, the second stage of our research is well underway. This involves speaking with groups of professionals who have involvement in the lives of people with disability: health professionals and OTs; retailers, suppliers and manufacturers; and designers and local government planning departments.
We have complete 6 rounds of focus groups so far and are scheduled to complete the remainder in March 2022. If you are someone involved in design or planning for electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters we warmly invite you to participate in a focus group. Dates are March 21st, 25th and 28th. You can register your interest to attend here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We have other activities planned for the rest of the year that focus on the need to integrate motorised mobility devices into our everyday public spaces. We have an academic symposium planned for June 13th and 14th at the University of Wollongong where our partner organisation ATSA will be involved in discussions with students and early career researchers.
We are looking forward to these events and are thankful for the assistance that has been given to us so far. If you would like any further information, please be in contact.