As we open up and start to live outdoor with outdoor dining the preferred way for people to enjoy themselves after 15 months of COVID Lockdowns we have had a significant volume of contact with people who are very concerned about the impact these changes are having for people with disabilities .
Those of us who have lived without any supports during COVID and who have walked with persons with autism 3/4 times daily have witnessed the stress that the changes made tp pavements and streets without any prior notice .In most cases these pavements and streets have not changed for decades and major change of this kind is causing high levels of anxiety, so much so that some people on the spectrum are refusing to go for their daily walks
Crowded sidewalks and streets are making it harder for people with wheelchairs and mobility devices to get around As the Pandemic has redefined physical distances the space available for people with disabilities has shrunk
Local Councils and businesses have failed to design their outdoor facilities to make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate these new footpaths and streets .
For blind people the new scenario is a definite challenge for people who are visually impaired and as businesses test out new ways of attracting customers to outdoor they must consider how to design these new spaces with simple and cost effective measures such as ,increasing contrast using colour contrasts to indicate a difference in functions and areas .Adding colour contrast to the edge of steps are just 2 examples of how a little consideration at the design stage can make a huge difference .
For people with autism the psychological impact of COVID 19 are significant with increases in depression and anxiety worrying about the loss of school and day care services, getting medication and an acute lack of understanding of the major changes that have taken place as a result of COVID 19 .
While Al Fresco dining has the potential to bring our streets to life it also has the potential to make t the lives of people with disabilities much more difficult and challenging .The removal of footpaths are resulting in dangerous life threatening situations which are resulting in harmful damage to many people with disabilities .
Don’t Leave them Behind are requesting that consultations take lace with local councils and Government departments to ensure that guidelines are created to make the new outdoor dining experiences a good one for all of us.