How Can We Make Our Cities More Accessible?

Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 30 September 2023

People in wheelchairs complained that it takes a long time to plan a trip. Why? They need to research the location, find an accessible parking space, find alternatives to stairs, and then navigate the toilets.

Unfortunately, the accessible toilets are usually located on the ground level. Even then… you may need to collect a key on the second floor via a set of stairs!

One person in a wheelchair gave an example of a recent trip to a freshly renovated government building. He said that he was there to talk about disability requirements but was unable to even enter the accessible toilet. Can you believe it! The sink was blocking his access!

I listened to a panel of people sitting in wheelchairs. The participants talked about their personal experiences and pain points. The topic of the presentation was about accessibility.

people drinking at a bar
Image Credit: Pexels

Accessible City Options

The people with disabilities in the room would like to see their cities:

  • Increase walkable and accessible green infrastructure.
  • Design area to the ABCB Liveable Housing Design Standard – beyond the building code’s requirements
  • Dedicated parking spots for scooters and bikes to ensure they don’t block the footpath.
  • Quiet spaces and times to chill out and relax.
  • Smooth pathways.
  • Ask for genuine input from people with lived experience.
  • Signage in different formats on crossings and key wayfinder signs – i.e. speech, braille, written
  • Use of captions and subtitles.
  • Use of Auslan interpreters on the screens or simple signage/icons.
  • Ensure all websites and apps meet W3C accessibility guidelines, including the use of plain English and diverse images.
  • Consideration to people with a neurodivergence.
  • Lanyards for invisible disabilities – staff can assist in fast-tracking these people through entry or ticket lines.
  • Captions, transcripts, narration, Braille, easy read, plain English.
  • Ramps rather than stairs or multiple escalators – multiple formats and pathways.
  • More automatic doors for easier access.
  • Google Maps to have an accessible friendly Map details option.

Accessible Digital Experiences

The Web Accessibility Initiative has strategies, standards, and resources to make the web accessible to people with disabilities.

The biggest complaints were about having trouble accessing and using Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Scheme websites.

People with disabilities spent a large amount of time filling in online forms that were poorly designed. One person who uses a text reader spent three hours filling in a form. Then they were unable to submit it because the submit button needed to be activated by the enter key!

person in a wheelchair working on a laptop
Image Credit: Pexels

Accessible Travel and Leisure

People with disabilities need to know about their options when travelling, booking restaurants, and visiting the facilities. With an aging population, these accessibility requirements are needed for many people.

Hotels tend to only have a few accessible rooms suitable for people who use a wheelchair. Plastic straws are often required for people with feeding issues.

Did you know that your strength and dexterity will reduce as you age (60+) making many types of packaging harder to open?

Accessible Beaches

The Accessible Beaches website has a directory listing of accessible beaches in Australia. You can search by suburb, state, or territory, features and inclusive rating. Features may include accessible beach matting, accessible change room, accessible parking, accessible shower, beach wheelchair availability, changing places, hoist, lead-up pathways and retail shops within 150 metres.


When we focus our efforts on designing cities for accessibility, we improve them for different types of people. This includes families who have strollers, careers and their clients, younger people on scooters and bikes, visitors, and older people.

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