Accessibility auditor fighting to ensure spaces are disability-friendly

Accessibility and inclusion auditor Tarryn Tomlinson speaks to CapeTalks Refilwe Moloto about some of the work she does in ensuring that public spaces are accessible to people with disabilities.

She says she started working on auditing public spaces after she realised how frustrating it can be for a person using a wheelchair not to be able to access a bathroom due to small infrastructural design.

Her focus is primarily auditing hotels. After spending time overseas, she realised that hotels in South Africa are not fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Read: South African plans to be first disabled person to travel to space

I took it upon myself to start working with people in hotel industries using international standards and guidelines because the specs are basically the same internationally.

Tarryn Tomlinson, Accessibility and inclusion auditor

What I often find is that these things are not properly thought through. You might have space that is "allocated" but it is not thought through properly into the small fixings and finishes that will make it more accessible for someone in a wheelchair.

Tarryn Tomlinson, Accessibility and inclusion auditor

Tomlinson also spoke about the issue of old heritage buildings that were built before the new regulations were in place.

Heritage buildings are also restricted from making any changes to the architectural designs.

She says the government should subsidise these places in making them accessible to differently abled people.

Heritage sites do remain some of the difficult buildings to access from the architectural and fitting point of view.

Tarryn Tomlinson, Accessibility and inclusion auditor

Tomlinson has worked with the President Hotel in the Cape Town CBD as well as Radisson Red in the Waterfront.

I have never seen a hotel that has thought through accessibility on such a keynote and covered all areas of disability. There is Braille on the outside of every door, the buttons are a perfect hight for people on the wheelchair so that they can be able to reach it.

Tarryn Tomlinson, Accessibility and inclusion auditor

To hear more of this conversation, listen below:


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