Emma Hocking took to the CEO Wheelie Challenge to find out.
The CEO Wheelie Challenge brings together leading CEOs, Executives and Business and Community Leaders to spend the day understanding the day-to-day challenges of people with a disability in a wheelchair. Emma was issued with her wheelchair and tasked with tackling a a regular work day from her chair. But first, the CEOs underwent a crash (not literally!) course on how to handle their new mode of transport, instructed by wheelchair users from the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association.
Access at the office
We were confident that our SDA Smart Homes office space would reasonably accommodate wheelchair access, but we were in for a few surprises.
Off to a good start! The front and back doors have ramp and smooth transition access so no problem wheeling into the office. 10/10
However, the upstairs office space is only accessible by stairs, precluding any employees or clients with mobility devices from accessing that area. This is technically 0/10 for accessibility but considering the lower floor is highly accessible and includes all amenities and meeting rooms, all business could be conducted on the lower floor if required. Fortunately, for the purposes of the Wheelie Challenge, Emma’s office is on the ground level.
Accessing Emma’s Workspace
More good news at Emma’s desk. The doorways are wide and the offices are spacious. Plenty of room to manoeuvre a mobility aid. 10/10
Success! Emma’s chair fits under her desk. The adjustable height keyboard pad and laptop stand allow her to adopt an ergonomic working position. 9/10
The only draw back in Emma’s office was the carpet. Smooth flooring, such as vinyl or tiles, is optimal for wheelchair use as carpet increases wheel friction and therefore requires greater effort from the wheelchair user. We’ll give this a 7/10 as it’s a very low profile carpet which is not as problematic as plush carpets.
What about the facilities?
We have a fantastic, wheelchair accessible bathroom. It’s incredibly spacious to allow for easy circulation and transfers. 10/10
Unfortunately, the door is operated by a spring loaded auto closing mechanism. This mechanism makes the door quite heavy to open. An able bodied person will need to “put their back into it” to operate the door. Using a wheelchair, Emma found this door very challenging and needed a co-worker to assist with the door’s operation. 5/10
Apart from the challenges of being an inexperienced wheelchair user, Emma found the SDA Smart Homes office space to be reasonably accessible. The main challenges were the heavy bathroom door and an upper floor inaccessible due to stairs. The low profile carpet was slightly more challenging than the smooth tiles areas but did not impose a significant challenge. On the positive side, she had no trouble entering the office dues to smooth transitions at entrances and throughout the office. The votes are in, and we’ve given SDA Smart Homes a 7/10 score for accessibility.
With the CEO Wheelie Challenge complete for 2022, we are all left to reflect on how we can make our workplaces & public spaces more accessible for all people.
Learn more about the Sporting Wheelies CEO Challenge on their website: https://fundraise.sportingwheelies.org.au/event/wheelchair-challenge/home
Stay tuned for our next instalment, detailing Emma’s wheelie experience at an SDA Smart Home.