Wheelchair access throughout Dunedin has come a long way but is still inadequate in many areas, those involved in a disability awareness initiative learnt yesterday.
About 20 workers from the Dunedin City Council (DCC), Opus, Fulton Hogan and the Wall Street Mall were confined to wheelchairs while undertaking four team challenges designed to highlight the everyday difficulties faced by those with permanent disabilities.They navigated crowded shopping areas, used lifts, dodged traffic while crossing the road and grappled with unforgiving pavement kerbs.
Accessing the Dunedin Community Law Centre, buying a drink at Burger King in the Meridian Mall and using the National Bank on George St all presented issues, particularly during the central Dunedin lunch-hour rush.
Dubbed the Amazing Race, the event was organised by CCS Disability Action, the Disability Information Service (DIS) and the Idea (Intellectual Disability Empowerment Association) Service.
DIS information consultant John Marrable said the city council and other organisations had helped to improve wheelchair access within the community, but there were still many routine tasks which proved difficult for people with various disabilities.
''Amazing Race is a play on words because people with impairments are amazing people, because they live their lives and their own race with challenges every day,'' he said.
Dunedin residents permanently confined to wheelchairs were appointed team leaders and guided those less experienced during the event.
CCS worker Marty Rowlands had been in a wheelchair for more than two decades, following a truck accident, and said access throughout Dunedin had ''improved heaps'' in that time.
Those taking part yesterday provided feedback to organisers about what they were unable to do and why, for consideration of future improvements.