I asked a life guard at my local pool about the hoist for disabled people. The life guard completely spoke over my head and ignored me. She treated me like I was stupid, even though I had asked the question.
I was told no one knew how to use the hoist, but the life guard said she would love to learn how, "Oh, but the hoist is locked away. And please give us 24 hours notice when you want to come to the pool."
I got angry with her. We left. I rang the council, who run the pool, but they did not instill any confidence in me with their comments either. It's not fair.
This sort of access barrier is not an isolated incident. It's happened before, and not just at the pool. It's hard to get into so many shops and cafes. Plus you get stared at.
I have never been back to my local pool. They scared me. They made me feel less than a person.
I want accessibility legislation that will make all life guards get proper training to operate the hoists at pools. They should make the stairs more accessible for the elderly too.
I also think there needs to be polices about how much stuff they can put on the floor of shop aisles as I often can't get access because of this. The same with blocked doorways. Not only that, councils need to think about how they build toilets, to allow access for people with disabilities, and not put heavy doors on them. Heavy doors are really hard to open for powerchair users.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.