THERE’S no doubt Orange City Council’s mobility challenge is a great idea.
Yesterday councillor Neil Jones, along with a couple of council staff, spent time seeing how the other half live being temporarily confined to a wheelchair, using crutches, riding a mobility scooter or wearing special glasses that simulate blindness.
As part of the challenge, Cr Jones rode a mobility scooter from council chambers to the Orange Central shopping centre and discovered firsthand the obstacles people with a disability face when undertaking everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and paying bills.
Cr Jones told the Central Western Daily (CWD) he was shocked to learn how hard it was navigating his way around narrow shopping aisles and crossing busy roads.
At the end of the day, Cr Jones said the experience was educational, worthwhile and stressful and he’s now got an even deeper understanding of the hurdles people with disabilities face.
Staff who participated in the challenge completed a questionnaire that will be used by council to look at ways to improve conditions for disabled people.
However, the mobility challenge will be viewed as nothing more than a publicity stunt if council doesn’t take some real steps towards upgrading Orange’s infrastructure to support the needs of the city’s disabled residents.
The poor state of some of Orange’s footpaths and gutters needs to be addressed to make travelling around the city easier and safer for the disabled.
One woman recently told the CWD she had great difficulty pushing her elderly father in his wheelchair because of the poor state of footpaths around the nursing home where he lives.
Let’s all push for upgrades to vital infrastructure and ensure the wonderful amenities of this city are accessible to all of us.