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Disability rocks at Stockland Wetherill Park

  • December 10, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

With Christmas around the corner, even the most able-bodied shopper can dread negotiating the crowds and the crush of a shopping centre.

But management at Wetherill Park Stocklands found shopping a lot harder than expected last week, when they spent the day with simulated disabilities for International Day of People with a Disability.

Ambassador Tracey Barrell led one of the groups on her skateboard, which she uses instead of a wheelchair because of its versatility on stairs and public transport.

Ms Barrell is Australia’s only congenital triple amputee, meaning she was born with no legs and only one arm.

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Through their eyes: (front) Tracey Barrell,
International Day of People with a Disability
ambassador, with (l-r) Claudia Lam, Greg
Johnson and Paola Sartorelli of Stocklands
management. The findings of the event will
assist the future design, development and
management of Stocklands.
Picture: Wesley Lonergan.

She said while the skateboard left her with a height disadvantage when going through check-out counters, her loud voice more than made up for it.

“I’m really excited to be an ambassador,” she said.

“It’s a great chance to speak my mind and draw attention to what we have to put up with every day.”

Guide Dogs Australia and The Spastic Centre worked with Stocklands managers took turns in wheelchairs and walking stick aides with vision-impaired goggles, which simulated a range of conditions including tunnel-vision and retinal detachment.

Claudia Lam, Stocklands manager – retail design, said the heavy visual focus of her job was put in perspective when she had the goggles on.

“I know our centre complies with all the necessary guidelines,” she said. “But it makes you aware that on other levels, like customer service and other design features, there are many other ways we can improve.”

Stocklands centre manager Paola Sartorelli said the event was “a huge success”.

“[It] highlighted the importance of the independence of people in need of mobility assistance and access in public places,” Ms Sartorelli said.