Saturday, April 28, 2007

Woman in Wheelchair Killed At Railroad Tracks

In Australia, a woman in a wheelchair was killed while trying to cross railroad tracks. Here's the news coverage:

"As she was crossing, her wheelchair for some reason has fallen over and she has been thrown out....She has attempted to get up but unfortunately the train has come through and she has been hit." Via news.com.au

A one sentence description of the accident Via www.perthnorg.com.au

I chose this story to highlight a problem that has been addressed before in message boards for people with disabilities: the dangers to wheelchair users as pedestrians . What's always interesting in these stories (and they do appear in the news in all countries) is that we rarely go behind the fact that someone in a wheelchair was killed, whether by a train or automobile, lack of proper crosswalk markings and curbcuts, or a number of other factors.

Why was the woman crossing the railroad tracks? Probably the only way for her to get around. The article states that she fell out, vaguely alluding to the fact that no one knows why. I can make an educated guess as a wheelchair user that her tires got stuck as she tried to pop a wheelie to get over the tracks.

And there are issues like this that these articles don't address :

access to transportation
building accessible crossings
community services (perhaps caregiver hours)

Instead we just don't know, do we? These very brief , but frequent , articles memorializing the death of a deaf person, blind person or wheelchair user, whether they happen in the US, UK, Australia or anywhere else, remind me of how we still distance ourselves from the real issues.

If you click above, you'll see a report by an Autralian taskforce on wheelchair safety at railway crossings indicating the measures that still need to be taken.

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