Saturday, May 29, 2010

NSW in Australia sued over taxis' discrimination against wheelchair users

From ABC News in Australia:

The New South Wales Transport and Infrastructure Department and two taxi companies are being taken to court accused of discriminating against wheelchair passengers.

Quadriplegic Greg Killeen claims he cannot fit into some cabs because they do not have enough room inside to close the door.

Mr Killeen was so fed up with trying to fit into a cab that he cut the handles off the back of his wheelchair.

But that was not enough as there are still some taxis he cannot catch.

Mr Killeen says the transport department knows there is a problem but will not take action.

"The ministry has actually held a meeting with all stakeholders to look at what the issues are, what the impact would be if the vehicles were required to be compliant with the standards, and the ministry has decided to do nothing about that," he said.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre CEO Robin Banks says the transport department needs to interpret the standards correctly.

"That means that the space that is defined in the standards would be a three dimensional space that a person using a wheelchair could fit into," she said.

"At the moment the way its being interpreted isn't as clear as that and it certainly has resulted in taxis that we say are inaccessible, in fact potentially dangerous to people."

Mr Killeen says he does not want compensation from the Federal Court action - only action to make sure all new wheelchair -accessible cabs are built to accommodate those who rely on them.