Our family was returning home from a dinner out one evening. My Mum uses an electric wheelchair, so we called a taxi with a lift to take us home.
The driver got us in and tied up some strops around the wheelchair. Following that, the driver drove very tightly around the corners. Every corner caused Mum's chair to tip at a 30-45 degree angle, leaving myself and another family member to catch and hold this very heavy electric wheelchair.
This incident traumatised Mum. She hasn't used a taxi since, which has drastically restricted her movement and ability to travel.
If Mum wants to go out, she has to 'walk' there in her wheelchair. The roads and footpaths in the area are gradually improving, but are mostly an uncomfortably bumpy patchwork of gravel, ledges and potholes. Also, Mum cannot go out on her own after getting lost a few times, so someone must always be with her on an excursion. Therefore she must rely on her family to go literally anywhere, which makes it nearly impossible for her to travel.
Mum's independence has been greatly limited. This has really affected her mental and physical health.
I want new access laws to make sure that private and public transport providers know how important proper restraints/strops are. Put them in a chair and tip it, so they can know the gut-wrenching terror of tipping in a heavy wheelchair and being unable to stop it. Ensure transport providers know how to safely and properly 'belt in' a chair/mobility device.
Accessibility legislation needs to make sure there are standards, and that there are consequences for messing up.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.