Travelling overseas in unfamiliar countries meant Caitlin, who is vision impaired, but seldom uses a cane because she can “get away with it”, decided an identification cane would help her navigate new cities. She also applied for assistance at airports.
When riding on an escalator in Dublin, Caitlin was hit from behind by a woman who yelled at her and said “why are you using a cane, you can see.” The woman refused to listen to her explanation that only 10% of people who are registered as blind have no sight. Caitlin was approached by another lady when she alighted from the escalator who commented the rude woman was crazy and asked Caitlin if she would like a hug.
Unfortunately incidents like this are all too common here in New Zealand, with strangers commenting on people’s sight level and asking invasive personal questions.
Accessibility legislation could ensure education campaigns about disabilities and people with disabilities are compulsory. Attitudinal change is essential. Legislation could also offer an easily accessible recourse to complain about unfair treatment.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.