Central Queenslander Des Ryan OAM has been involved in a range of advocacy activities for people with disability for decades. He has served in various roles within organisations such as the Queensland Network for Disability, Spinal Life Australia and Community Solutions. In doing so he has joined with others to push forward accessibility in a range of areas including building design, training and work opportunities.
Since the early 1990s Des has been organising an annual Accessible Pub Crawl in Rockhampton during which groups of up to 40 people travel by bus from venue to venue to have a drink and eat some food. After visiting each venue questionnaires are filled out rating positives and negatives in terms of accessibility and this information is later given to the management to provide praise where it is due and encourage improvement where it is needed.
To ensure that a thorough survey is undertaken a range of people with disabilities are invited and blindfolds, canes, etc provided so that people can gain insight into the experiences of others. Beyond assessing venues the event also provides people from a range of community groups to have fun and network. Politicians and other decision makers are also invited to further encourage networking and advocacy.
In this podcast Des provides a history of the pub crawls and other advocacy activities he has been involved in, as well as advice regarding effective means and ways of encouraging change. For those planning on running a similar event here are a sample questionnaire and suggested activities.
Sample questionnaire from the 2018 Accessible Pub Crawl
- Rate the general atmosphere of the venue, considering the lighting, noise, music etc
- Rate the accessibility of the toilet facilities
- Rate the overall accessibility of the venue, taking into consideration footpaths, gutters, doorways
- Rate overall assistance, friendliness and service provided by the staff. Did they contribute to making your night enjoyable and comfortable?
- Rate the chances of you returning to this venue on another occasion.
Sample activities from the 2018 Accessible Pub Crawl
- Assisting a fellow pub crawler in a manual wheelchair to go to the toilets
- Whilst seated in a manual wheelchair, making your way to the bar to order drinks
- Navigating your way to the toilets whilst blindfolded and using a cane
- Taking turns to assist a blindfolded person through the venue
- Wearing a pair of strong lensed glasses (to simulate vision impairment), place an order from the menu
Listen to Interview
- Making Advocacy Accessible Collection in the Commons Library
- Beer Strikes: A History of Hotel Boycotts in Australia, 1900-1920
- The History of Campaigns in Australia by People With Disability
- Australian Radio Shows by and for People with Disability