Various NGOs want to raise awareness about the importance of disability-friendly businesses within the city for Disability Rights Awareness Month. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - With national Disability Rights Awareness Month commemorated until December 3, various NGOs want to raise awareness about the importance of disability-friendly businesses within the city.

Heidi Volkwijn, manager for services to the youth and adult programme at The League of Friends of the Blind, said that while the City had done a lot to improve inclusivity for persons with disabilities, a lot needed to be done for businesses to be more accommodating of disabled people.

“Many restaurants do not have a braille menu or a menu in any format that a person who is visually impaired will be able to access,” she said.

“While it’s easy for businesses to put in a ramp and have different menus, the culture of how disabled people are treated and the othering of these people needs to change and more awareness needs to be raised on how to accommodate people with disabilities,” she said.

According to Erica du Toit, awareness and sensitisation co-ordinator at Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities, more businesses are accommodating to people who are in wheelchairs.

“I cannot speak for businesses around the city in general, but I have noticed that there are far more places that accommodate people who are in wheelchairs than those who have visual or hearing impairments, for example,” she said.

“Although we have liaised with live theatres, we have noticed that they do not cater to people who wear hearing devices, because even though someone has a cochlear implant or makes use of an aid does not mean that they will be able to hear the movie well,”

Aimee Isaacs, an occupational therapist at Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability, said many restaurants in the City did not cater for people with intellectual disabilities.

“The two main issues that businesses should look at are bigger changerooms, because there are people who have both intellectual and physical disabilities and wear adult diapers and need to be changed, and the second thing is that restaurant menus need to be more legible and disability friendly,” she said.

According to Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, new buildings in the city were required to be accessible for disabled persons.

“But it is the older buildings that are posing challenges, as retro-fitting is not always achievable.”

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