Disability needs should be front of mind

Think of us:Local musician and disability advocate Phillip Chalker wants more to be done to make daily tasks more accessible to locals with a disability.. photograph tom gannon

Tom Gannon

Local musician and disability advocate Phillip Chalker is calling for more to be done to make daily tasks more accessible to people with disabilities.

Mr Chalker, who is vision impaired has found it increasingly difficult to carry out his day-to-day routine in Traralgon without having to ask staff from businesses and the public for assistance.

He is calling for more awareness around issues people with a disability face and wants to see more considerations being made during the design process of new services and infrastructure.

“We basically live in a sighted world,” he said.

“It really makes my life a lot more difficult.”

Mr Chalker has flagged a new coin deposit machine that was recently installed at the Commonwealth Bank in Traralgon.

The new machine, which as a busker Mr Chalker uses multiple times a week, requires a card to be inserted, as opposed to the older models which would print a receipt that could be presented to a teller in exchange for bills.

Mr Chalker said that although staff are willing to provide him assistance, this reliance makes him feel much less independence than if he were able to carry out the task himself.

“I shouldn’t have to always ask the staff to help me because it takes away my independence,” he said.

“It gives me heaps of difficulty because you put the coins in and then you can’t do anymore because the next step is using your card and then touching a screen that doesn’t talk.”

A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said the bank was looking to make the ATM more accessible but due to current lockdowns at the manufacturers location, changes aren’t able to be made for at least another four weeks.

“We are reverting the software to be a simple transaction, currently the customer has to enter a lot of information via a touch screen so we are changing the software back to our old system which I understand the customer preferred,” they said.

“We are very open to working with the customer so once it is upgraded we will get in touch with them to see what they think and whether we need to do more.”

Mr Chalker said accessibility issues were rife within parts of the community and changes to things like the location of Kmart checkouts away from the front of the store provided more issues for people with a disability than those without would realise.

“Yes I understand I might need a hand getting the product if I go by myself but then finding the counter, they were easy to find at the front but now they are further to the back,” he said.

“It makes me lose my independence, I shouldn’t have to go up to the people at the front of Kmart and ask if they can please take me up to the counter.”

Mr Chalker believes increased-accessibility will go a long way to improving the quality of life for locals with disabilities.

“It wouldn’t only help blind people but everyone with a disability, the more independence the better,” he said.