I Can’t Access Your Café - Serena’s Story

I use a wheelchair for mobility and attend a writing group twice a week which is held in a local café. It has an access ramp which exits into their conservatory

To go into the main café area from there I have to open one of two sliding doors. The first one has a high track which I cannot use, the other has a wheelchair access sign. Unfortunately, I cannot get to the counter from this door as the way is blocked by poorly placed tables and chairs. I need to ask people to stand up or move their table so I can get to the counter. A long table previously placed near a wall has now been moved making wheelchair access even more difficult. Staying in the conservatory for our meeting is not an option as it is cold and draughty.

Recently when leaving after the writing group I found the accessible sliding door locked. When I asked a member of the staff to unlock it and pointed out the accessibility sign he admitted to never having noticed it. I then had to wait while they picked up advertising signs and other things which were lying on the floor by the ramp exit. 

I would like to see the staff given disability awareness training as they do not understand the needs of their disabled customers. I believe they could re-arrange the furniture to provide a clear path to and from the counter. Reducing the number of pot plants in the café would also provide better access.


I support accessibility legislation which would ensure all buildings are accessible to people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities.


This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

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