What would a truly disabled-accessible city look like?

Most cities are utterly unfriendly to people with disabilities but with almost one billion estimated to be urban-dwellers by 2050, a few cities are undergoing a remarkable shift

To David Meere, a visually impaired man from Melbourne, among the various obstacles to life in cities is another that is less frequently discussed: fear.

” The fear of not being able to navigate busy, cluttered and visually oriented environments is a major barrier to participation in normal life ,” says Meere, 52,” be that going to the shops, going for a walk in the park, going to work, looking for run, or simply socialising .”

That’s what makes an innovative project at the city’s Southern Cross train station so important to him. A new” beacon navigation system” sends audio cues to users via their smartphones, providing directions, flagging escalator outages and otherwise transforming what previously a “no-go” region for Meere.

” I no longer have to hope there’s a willing spectator or a capable staff member to provide direct aid ,” he says.” And on a very personal and powerful level it allows me to use this major transport hub in one of Australia’s largest cities with certainty and freedom as a parent with small children. It’s a real game-changer .”

Meere was one of the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities who live in cities around the world. By 2050, they will number an estimated 940 million people, or 15% of what will be approximately 6.25 billion total urban dwellers, lending an urgency to the UN’s declaration that poor accessibility ” presents a major challenge “.

For the physically or mentally disabled, hurdles can range from blocked wheelchair ramps, to buildings without lifts, to inaccessible toilets, to shops without step-free access. Meanwhile, for learning disabled people or those on the autistic spectrum, the cluttered and hectic metropolitan environment can be a sensory minefield.





  • Stairs, revolving doors, cobbles and steps on to trains are a few of the features that make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to access their cities

Although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Britain’s Equality Act and Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act aim to boost their entitlements and access, current realities on the ground can be very different, as Guardian City readers recently reported.

And yet, cities benefit from accessibility. One World Health Organisation examine described how, like Meere, disabled people are less likely to socialise or work without accessible transport. Cities also miss out on economic gains: in the UK the” purple pound” is worth PS212bn, and the accessible-tourism market an estimated PS12bn.

Some cities, however, are leading the way.

Seattle: a sidewalk mapping app


Mapping apps induce navigating cities a doddle for most people- but their lack of detail on ramps and fell kerbs mean they don’t always work well for people with a physical disability.

Take the hilly city of Seattle, where several neighbourhoods have no pavements at all, and many streets have a slope grade( or tilt) of 10% or even 20%.

The University of Washington’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology has a answer: a map-based app permitting pedestrians with limited mobility to plan accessible roads. AccessMap enables users to enter a destination, and receive indicated roads depending on customised settings, such as limiting uphill or downhill inclines. The image above shows Seattle streets coloured by incline: green entails flat; red entails a slope of 10% or above.

For example, while Google Maps sends pedestrians from University Street station to City hall via Seneca Street, with its steep 10% grade, AccessMap sends them via Pike Street instead- a slope of less than 2 %.


  • OpenSidewalks is crowdsourcing info such as pavement thicknes and kerb drop-downs

It also supplements data regarding Seattle’s Department of Transportation and the US Geological Survey with datum from mapathon events. Now the Taskar Centre’s pertained OpenSidewalks project is taking it farther by crowdsourcing extra datum, such as pavement width and the location of handrails.

Singapore: universal design


By 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be over 60, with this” silver tsunami” driving awareness of ageing and disability benefits. The city may not historically be known for all-inclusive practises, but has recently won kudo from the UN for its accessible ” user-friendly built environment “.

The Universal Design principles drawn up by Singapore’s Building Construction Authority have encouraged accessibility in new developments since its launch in 2007.

CapitaGreen, in the central business district, is a 40 -storey office block that has won a host of UD awards. Completed in 2014 at a cost of S $1.3 bn( PS700m ), the Toyo Ito-designed structure features column-free spaces and a low concierge counter to help disabled people move around the building more easily.


  • Braille directions on handrails in the award-winning CapitaGreen office block

Lift doors stay open longer, handrails flank both sides of staircases, and the chairs have grab manages. A hearing induction loop enables clearer communication for those using hearing aids, while Braille directions, tactile the guidelines and easy-to-read pictographs help the visually impaired. Routes into the office from underground pedestrian walkways and two Mass Rapid Transit( MRT) stations are barrier-free.

Singapore’s MRT has furthermore been working to improve accessibility over the past decade. The 30 -year-old nework has been becoming ever more lifts, wider gates and tactile guidance, and more than 80% of the 138 stations have at least two barrier-free routes.

The title of world’s most accessible metro system, however, probably goes to Washington, DC. All 91 subway stations are fully accessible, along with its rail carriages and the entire bus fleet.

Sonoma: autism-friendly design


People with autism can be hypersensitive to sound, illuminate and movement, and become overwhelmed by noisy, cluttered or crowded spaces. Sweetwater Spectrum, a $6.8 m supported-housing project in Sonoma, California, aims to address this.

The site, which opened in 2013, includes four 4-bed homes for 16 young adults, their home communities centre, therapy pools and an urban farm- all designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects according to autism-specific principles recommended by Arizona State University to promote a sense of calm.


  • Inside the Sweetwater Spectrum housing project

Along with simple, clear lines, the homes are designed so residents can clearly see spaces across thresholds. Noise is kept to a minimum thanks to quiet heating and ventilation systems and thoughtful design, such as locating the laundry room away from the bedrooms. Fittings and decor reduce sensory stimulation and jumble, with muted colours, neutral tones and recessed or natural light.

Korsor: sport for all


The Musholm sports, holiday and meeting complex in Korsor has won numerous awardings, most recently from the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, for its 2015 redesign of the basic 1998 site.

At the centre of the venue, owned by the Danish Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, is a vast, circular athletics corridor, with an aerial ropeway and climbing wall for wheelchair users and an incorporated pulley system. Outside, a 100 m ramp spirals up from the base of the hall to a sky lounge.( The ramp can also be used as a wheelchair racing way .)

The 24 hotel rooms each have ceiling hoists, electronic curtains, beds that can be automatically raised or reclined, adjustable height sinks and accessible toilets. By the waterside, a private bathing jetty is wide enough for wheelchairs and accessible via a ramp.


  • The multi-purpose athletics hall in the Musholm complex

” Accessibility is necessary felt but not watched ,” says foundation director Henrik Ib Jorgensen. Musholm, which expense EUR1 4.5 m( PS12. 9m) to build, is operate as a social enterprise.” Lack of accessibility, other people’s hypothesis, body ideals and a lack self confidence among people with disabilities are often the biggest hurdles for diversity ,” he adds.” We wanted to create a place where there is space for changes .”

Denmark is also home to what is widely regarded as the world’s most accessible office build. The House of Disabled People’s Organisations in the Copenhagen suburb of Taastrup is the shared headquarters of some 30 different disability groups. Built in 2012 for 178 m krone( PS21m ), the Universal Design includes drive-through lifts so wheelchair users don’t have to turn around, and small, tactile knob on railings so blind people can easily tell which floor they are on.

Chester: an accessible historic city


Chester in north-west England is renowned for its two-mile circuit of Roman, Saxon and Medieval walls and its elevated walkways, called Rows. But the city’s historic status belies its role as an accessibility champion: last year it became the first British city to win the European commission’s Access City award.

The Rows are accessible with ramps, a lift and an escalator, while the council’s 15 -year regeneration strategy prioritises accessibility in new developments.

Take the PS300m Northgate shopping and leisure development, to be completed by 2021. The site will include accessible stores, eateries, housing and a 157 -room hotel including eight accessible rooms with ceiling hoists. The hotel will include a changing places facility for people with complex or multiple and profound disabilities.( Unlike criterion accessible toilets, these include a height-adjustable changing bench, adjustable sink, a toilet designed for assisted use and hoist .) Chester already has six such changing places facilities, including one at the recently opened bus interchange, and more are planned around the city.

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Billie Jean King leaves Australian Open organisers reeling over new controversy

Billie Jean Kings call for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed over her derogatory LBGT remarks left Australian Open organisers red-faced for the second day in a row

The Australian Open was plunged into a second controversy in 24 hours when Billie Jean King declared on Friday she could not support the continued naming of Margaret Court Arena after the nation’s best player because of her “derogatory” statements about the LBGT community.

On Thursday, the tournament director, Craig Tiley, was forced to defend the decision to invite Maria Sharapova to share the podium with the men’s champion, Roger Federer, at the televised describe rite, even though she has served 15 months for failing a drugs exam here two years ago.

He argued that in the absence of the women’s champ, Serena Williams, it was appropriate to have a former title-holder in Sharapova step in for her- on the 10 th anniversary of winning the title.

That generated a minor stir locally, and there was more to come on Friday.

King, who announced she was a lesbian at 51, was responding to a New York Times story in which Martina Navratilova- another player who has pioneered homosexual rights since proclaiming her own sexuality several years ago- criticised Court for her stance.

Navratilova said she would refuse to play on Margaret Court Arena if she was still playing, and King agreed as she was being honoured at a press conference when she was named the Australian Open woman of the year.

” She won 24 grand slams, more than anyone else ,” King said of Court, who announced last month she would not attend this year’s tournament.” Rocket[ Rod Laver] got the Arena, and people said,’ What are you going to do for Margaret ?’

” I don’t know. I think it’s really important if you’re going to have a name on anything that you’re hospitable, you’re inclusive, that you open your limbs to everyone who comes to a public facility.

” I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community, about the LBGT. That truly ran deep in my heart and soul. If I was part of voting- which I’m not; it’s really up to the people of Australia- I would[ referendum to change it ].

” I personally don’t think she should have[ her name on it] anymore. I think if you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want someone[ such as Court] to have her name on something like that.

Billie Jean King talks with Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley. Photograph: Mark Baker/ AP

” Maybe because of our community, the LGBT community, people might feel differently but we’re all God’s children. I likely don’t think it’s appropriate to have her name on it.

” I have my name on a whole facility[ at Flushing Meadows] in the US. I remember that day, having my name up there, and the sense of responsibility. I could hardly breathe because of the responsibility. I think if I’m going to have my name on anything, I would welcome Margaret, I would greet whoever- whether I agreed with them or not. It’s not important.

” I think she’s just gotten genuinely derogatory. When she talks about the children of transgenders being from the demon that set me over the edge.

” I think it’s really important to be your authentic self. It took me a long time about my own sexuality. I was 51 before I felt comfortable in my own scalp. Shame-based things are very difficult, so that’s the last thing this is necessary. Children of LBGT family have a much higher rate of suicide. This is part of being derogatory towards us. I just think it’s not healthy .”

The tournament organisers posted an audio tape of the press conference on the media section of their website- only to take it down soon afterwards without explanation.

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Same-sex marriage and euthanasia mean annus horribilis Catholic bishop

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher says 2017 has been challenging for our world our country, and each of us individually

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said people of faith might describe 2017 as” annus horribilis because of euthanasia statutes in Victoria, the exposure of child sexual abuse in the Catholic church, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage were failings that challenged” our Christian conceptions of life “.

” Like any year, this one has had its challenges for our world, our country and each and every one of us individually ,” Fisher said in his annual Christmas message.

” For people of faith you might say it’s been an annus horribilis, as our Christian conceptions of life and love have been challenged in the marriage and euthanasia debates; freedom of religion in Australia put in doubt; and shameful crimes and cover-ups in our Church uncovered by the royal commission.

” But the Christmas story insists there is a star in the dark sky, light amidst the anxieties and failures. Christmas speaks of new hope .”

There was a need for renewed hope to unite people, Fisher said. He said the Australian Catholic Youth festival had been a highlight of the year.

” The concourse of young people standing up for religion and ideals says to us that whatever the past failings, we can have hope for ourselves, our families, our church, our nation, our world ,” he said.” Our young person are not naive about the shames in our past or the trials in our future. But they want to be part of the answer to both .”

The Archbishop of Melbourne Dennis Hart had a similarly dark Christmas message.

” We live in a world and a church that is rapidly changing ,” he said in a video.” Every morning we seem to wake up to more bad global news of hurricanes, inundates, drought, flames and even the frightening prospect of the use of nuclear weapons. The gloomines of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, but within our reach, is joy .”

Meanwhile the Anglican Dean of Hobart, Richard Humphrey, gave a nod to Donald Trump in a politically-themed Christmas video in which he wore a red Make Christmas Great Again cap, a play on Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.

He told the ABC that people needed to turn away from fake news and towards” the really good news of Christmas “.

But he also exhorted Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman to tackle pokies-related harm. With the nation due to head to an election in May, the state’s opposition leader Rebecca White said if elected Labor would commit to removing poker machines from saloon and clubs, and would give notice that the present deed letting poker machines in venues other than casinoes would not be extended beyond 2023.

” It is all very well for our premier to be went on to say that we should be able to celebrate Christmas, but we need to make room in the hostel for there to be no pokies as well, these kind of things are related ,” Humphrey said.

” We guess the damage that is being done by pokies in some of our poorest and most needy suburbs needs to be addressed .”

Dr Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, turned to Twitter to deliver his Christmas message this year.

” In short- a newborn born in a shed saves the world #canyoubelieveit ,” his message said.

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Flinders Street crash: alleged driver charged with 18 counts of attempted murder

Saeed Noori also charged with one count of conduct jeopardizing life after being formally interviewed by police

The man who allegedly ploughed his vehicle into pedestrians in Flinders Street in Melbourne on Thursday has been remanded in custody after a brief court appearance during which he covered his face with his hand.

Saeed Noori, a former Afghan refugee and now Australia citizen, was charged with 18 counts of attempted slaying and one count of conduct jeopardizing life after being formally interviewed by police on Saturday.

Noori was discharged from hospital on Friday and held in custody overnight awaiting an interview with police. Three people remain in hospital fighting for “peoples lives” following Thursday’s attack.

Noori, a 32 -year-old from Heidelberg West reportedly attained comments about Allah and Asio in the lead-up to his interview with police.

He allegedly attained “utterances” to police about voices, dreamings and the” poor treatment of Muslims” to officers in hospital on Thursday evening, as well as remarks about Australia’s top security body and Allah.

” I think there was something, and I don’t know the exact detail, to do with Allah and some ramblings about Asio( the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation ),” acting chief commissioner Shane Patton told the Herald Sun.

Police have said the alleged driver has lived in Melbourne for a number of years and had a history of drug abuse and mental illness. He was known to police from a minor assault charge in 2010 and was on a mental health plan.

Victorian police deputy commissioner Stephen Leane said he believed it was a ” deliberate ” act, and that Noori could be charged on Saturday.

” The motivating for that act we’ll work through. Our investigators will charge him with appropriate offences, if that’s what’s going to happen today.

On Saturday Victorian premier Daniel Andrews confirmed Noori had been the subject of a voluntary mental health therapy plan.

Outlining plans for heightened police presence at events in Victoria – including the Boxing Day Ashes Test, Andrews described the incident as a “cowardly” and “evil” act that has ” sickened and raged all of us “.

Police minister Lisa Neville has said police had so far received no evidence at Noori’s home to suggest he had been radicalised, however, the homicide squad and counterterrorism command are both investigating.

Three people, including two South Korean nationals, remain in a critical condition in hospital after a car ploughed into pedestrians on Flinders Street in Melbourne on Thursday.

The white SUV drove on to tram ways and then into an intersection crowded with pedestrians about 4.45 pm, injuring 18 people before reaching the concrete base of a tram stop.

The alleged driver of the car was arrested at the scene by an off-duty police officer.

The off-duty police officer underwent surgery on Friday and is one of 12 people remaining in hospital.

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Tiny ‘meat-loving’ marine creatures ‘eat’ teenager’s legs at Melbourne beach

Experts left stunned by possible sea lice bites after Sam Kanizay emerged from the beach at Brighton with severe bleeding

A Melbourne teen says his legs were covered in blood after they were feed by tiny marine creatures at a Victorian beach.

When Sam Kanizay, 16, felt sore after football on Saturday, he decided to soak his legs at Dendy Street beach in Brighton.

Half an hour afterward, he walked out covered in what his family said were tiny marine creatures feeing his legs.

When he got out, he described having sand on his legs, so he went back in the water, his father, Jarrod Kanizay, said.

He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. They ate through Sams skin and made it hemorrhage profusely.

Sam Kanizay receives treatment at a Melbourne hospital. Photo: Jarrod Kanizay

University of New South Wales marine invertebrates expert, Alistair Poore, said he had never seen a example like it.

Poore told Guardian Australia the bite must have been caused by a marine invertebrate, most likely sea louse. But he said a great number of ocean lice would be needed to cause such extensive bleeding.

If it is sea lice, then it is a fairly dramatic example of it, Poore said.

He told often beachgoers mistook stinging from the remnants of jellyfish tentacles with bites. But Poore said the bleeding in this case appeared too severe for that scenario.

The adolescents parent couldnt halting the bleed and they went to hospital, where staff were at a loss to explain what had happened.

As soon as we wiped them[ his legs] down, they kept bleeding, he said.

There was a massive pond of blood on the floor[ at the hospital ]. No one knows what the beings are. Theyve called a number of people, whether its toxicity experts or marine exerts and other medics around Melbourne at least …[ and[ yep , no one[ knows ].

The next night, Kanizay went back to the beach with a pool net full of meat and captured the beings he told were responsible.

What is really clear is these interesting thing really love meat, he said of a video depicting the glitches in a tray of water devouring chunks of meat.

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Cardinal George Pell to plead not guilty to historical sexual abuse offences

Australias most senior Catholic cleric appears at Melbourne magistrates court for first hearing

Cardinal George Pell has appeared in the Melbourne magistrates court charged with multiple historical sexual abuse offences.

Seated behind his lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, garmented in a simple black suit and clerical collar, Pell did not speak throughout the six-minute filing hearing.

Richter said that while Pell was not required to enter a plea unless and until the matter was committed for trial, he would, because of the media and public interest in the case, indicate a plea of not guilty now.

Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumption of innocence, he said.

Magistrate Duncan Reynolds ordered the prosecution serve a brief of evidence by 8 September with Pell to return to court for a committal mention on 6 October.

Prosecutor Andrew Tinney, SC, said Pell was facing multiple historic sex offence charges with respect to multiple complainants.

He advised media and the public not to speculate on the outcome of the case or risk contempt of court charges under the doctrine of sub judice.

The director of public prosecutions has already had to write to a number of media outlets with regard to articles that appeared to be in breach of those rules that apply, Tinney said.

The cardinal had been shepherded into court by a group of police officers through about 100 waiting camera operators, reporters and photographers, who had started assemble from 6am. Pell arrived just before 9am and did not reply to any questions from the media. Several people clapped as he arrived.

Fifty people were allowed into the courtroom when it opened just after 9am; the remainder were taken to another room to watch via video link.

The 76 -year-old Pell arrived in Australia from Rome on 9 July to fight the charges. He had previously said he was too unwell to fly.

Pell is the third-highest ranking official in the Vatican and the highest ranking Catholic church official to be charged with sex offences.

After Pell was charged in June, a spokesperson for the cardinal said he strenuously denied all allegations and was looking forward to his day in court.

Before Wednesdays hearing got under way, Reynolds told the public gallery that the only purpose of the filing hearing was to determine when the prosecution would file the brief of evidence.

A filing hearing is the first step in the court process, followed by a committal mention, when the accused person is expected to enter or indicate a plea. That is then followed by a committal hearing, if required.

At the end of that hearing the magistrate will decide if the lawsuit will be committed to the county court. At the district court, the process begins again: the accused is given an indictment setting out the charges and has a plea hearing, if “they il be” pleading guilty, or a directions hearing, if the are pleading not guilty. The trial itself follows the directions hearing.

The statement was released by the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney, where Pell served as archbishop before being appointed secretariat for the economy in the Vatican in 2014.

He took a leave of absence from his position attempting to reform the churchs finances to fight the charges, and the Vaticans chief spokesman, Greg Burke, released a statement expressing regret over the news but respect for the Australian legal system.

Pope Francis has declared a zero tolerance of sexual abuse in the church, saying in a letter to all Catholic bishops, released in January, that: I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.

However his efforts to stamp out clerical sexual abuse, including an investigatory tribunal proposed in 2015, have been criticised.

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