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  • Writer's picturePeta

Nicholas Lapsley: Accessible Travel, Inclusive Exam Practices, and the Disability Royal Commission.

Nicholas the host of The Accessible Travel Podcast joins Peta this week. They discussed travel and the tourism industry but also discussed challenges in education and delved into the recent Disability Royal Commission in Australia.

Connect with Nicholas:

The Accessible Travel Podcast:

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. The podcast answering your questions into what life is like when you have a disability. My name's Peta. I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host this week. I have Nicholas Lapsley. Nicholas himself is also a podcaster. He has his own podcast called The Accessible Travel Podcast. So we both had great fun discussing an industry that we both love. This conversation also went to places I wasn't expecting. We spoke about. What it was like in our last year of high school and the difficulties we both faced in gaining the right into school. And also we touched on the recent disability Royal Commission that was held here in Australia. So without any further ado, let's hand over to Nicholas.

Nicholas [00:01:21] My name is Nicholas and I'm the host of the accessible travel podcast. To allow people with disabilities to share their travel stories, and to spread more awareness about where we need to improve the travel industry.

Peta [00:01:36] Tell me, why do you love travel?

Nicholas [00:01:52] I just like exploring new communities, you get bored with where you currently are. You want to get out of there and explore. You know I've been to countries that aren't as fortunate as Australia like Bali. I have a family friend of mine, who runs a disability organisation over there. Their facility is nowhere near as good as what we can get in Australia. It's not just about enjoying travelling it's also about learning and educating yourself about what actually happens outside your own community. I've been travelling quite a bit, particularly when I was younger in the UK because that's where a lot of my family is so it's always a regular trip to the UK. I've also been to Fiji that's and another country that's not that fortunate. But they have a great community. They don't really worry about technology and all the fancy stuff they just enjoy what they have.

Peta [00:03:04] So what are your access needs? Because you know, a lot of those countries apart from London, but Indonesia and Fiji are quite difficult as far as access. So I'd love to hear what are your access needs when you do travel?

Nicholas [00:03:32] Yes, so my access need is pretty minimal because I have mild Cerebral Palsy and I can walk quite a fair distance. I do tend to lose my balance over time. I recently used the sunflower lanyard through the airport. I tend to be a bit slower, taking my stuff out of my bag and moving through the x-ray machine. But now we have the sunflower lanyard that allows people that need a little bit more help to get through.

Peta [00:04:02] And as far as your hearing impairment, is there anything you need to keep in mind when you travel?

Nicholas [00:04:34] When I'm in big echoey places, then I do have to be mindful because I'm constantly saying what what what? To people. And sometimes I never get to the point of what they're saying because it is so loud and echoey. It is just poor design accessibility wise. And then a lot of airports have the announcement over the Soundsystem. They tend to be really unclear for me. I found a quite difficult to understand them. But I work around it they actually going to aboard and finding my information that way I can visually see. At Dubai and Heathrow Airport, they no longer announce anything on the speakers it is totally reliant on the board.

Peta [00:05:11] So now that you do have an accessible travel podcast, you're constantly looking at different access needs for different people because as you say, the Dubai airport don't do audio announcements, but for people who are visually impaired, I would presume that would be a massive inaccessibility for them. Talk to me about how you now view accessibility since starting the podcast.

Nicholas [00:05:39] One of the bigger issue that come about once in a while on my podcast is actually mistreatment in their wheelchair or any accessibility equipment that go under the plane. Airlines use the cheapest employees possible I normally when you go down that path they won't give us stuff about what they're doing. They're not getting the money to care about anything. But yeah, I didn't really think about that until now about Visual impairment. So yeah, it'd be interesting how they would actually go around when there's no audio announcement. I wish that all airports were standardised. And all staff know what questions to ask when I was coming back from Heathrow I was asked by the checking desk. What disabilities do you have? I actually told them the answer but I didn't have to. I know my right I didn't need to. Because really, they don't need to know what disability you have. They only need to know your accessibility needs to be able to travel and comfort and not have to worry about putting yourself in any danger while you travel.

Peta [00:07:26] And I know that you have done lots of advocacy work that isn't related to tourism. So talk to me about what you've done and the sort of things that you're hoping to change within living with the disability.

Nicholas [00:07:45] Over the last year or so, I've been doing that campaign for better policy in disability, employment and education in New South Wales. My experience for my HSC, where I needed to prove that I needed a laptop for my exam. When I done my OT assessments all the assessments, proving that I would be disadvantaged if I had to handwrite all my examinations. Handwriting, when you have cerebral palsy for that long is next to impossible, and it would've disadvantage me because the markers would not have been able to read what I'd written. A lot of us have a very similar issue some from university some from school and we were like hey, we need to set up a campaign to improve this. We set up a CP active campaign for the New South Wales state election. Asking them to improve and standardise the process for university TAFE and school. The opposition at the Time now government a New South Wales state labour government said they would agree and commit to our three promises. We haven't really seen any action since they have been elected but we're hoping that it'll still come.

Peta [00:09:29] I have to say, you're a lot younger than me, Nicholas, but I'm really disappointed to hear that your experience was very similar to mine. To go through my high school exams was quite a difficult process to get special consideration because I wanted to be able to dictate my exams and I did eventually get that approval. However, the amount of hoops that I had to jump through was just ridiculous and also extremely stressful because it was like I had to prove my disability. And a lot of people were very used to having to prove that disabilities all the time. But this was a particularly stressful time because, you know, your end of year exams, VCAT for May in Victoria is so important to your future education. And in some ways it felt like my education was in somebody else's heads because they would like, you know, there would be no way I could handle it like that, like it would be impossible.

Peta [00:10:55] I would love to hear, and particularly as you're probably a different generation to me now, Nicholas, which is a scary thought for me that would put that aside. But I would love to hear what you you wish society would talk more about in relation to this disability. If there was one topic in relation to disability, what do you wish society would take more notice of?

Nicholas [00:12:05] Some of the stories I've been reading is pretty shocking. I'm just glad that I've experienced nothing like that. I still have had issues throughout life, but nothing to the same extent to what I've been reading with the disability royal commission. I really do wish that society would start putting people with disabilities in the actual community and stop segregation into separate communities. To bring more awareness on what does happen behind closed doors. And then I feel like the more people that know what happens behind closed doors then the less it will happen and more people will take action because they know this is not right.

Peta [00:12:21] I've read the report from the royal commission yesterday and that I felt I understood what was being faced by forward disabilities, but I really didn't like I was so naive to how abhorrent people with disabilities can be treated. And like you, I've been very privileged and very lucky. I've never experienced anything like that. But the commonality of those experienced experiences need to stop. And I do hope that society. Can be encouraged and given the information to understand it better. And I hope that the royal commission's report doesn't get buried and that it does see real change like the Disability Rights Act that's being proposed.

Nicholas [00:14:33] Yeah, and the date that the government said they will get everything done by is a bit beyond a joke mid 2030 to 2050. Most of this stuff can be done within a year or two, not 30 years down the track so yes, some of the issues that we are saying it feels like the can is being kicked down the road. There is still more work in pushing for change to happen more quickly now. We know we need change because that's what the royal commission showed. But some of the dates that they selected for everything to be done by, is just beyond a joke. I hope for a better future where it is basically violence free. And also stressfree where we don't have to worry about the extra layers of accessibility everything is just there and we know we can get through the airport smoothly and not worry about our equipment being broken. Yeah I just really hope that people with disabilities get to have a stressfree life in the future where everything has been thought of, and we don't have to worry about it.

Peta [00:14:54] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, can I encourage you to leave a writing, a review wherever you listen to your podcasts? And also, if you ever want to get in touch, you can send me Damn on Instagram. My handle is at @petahooke or send me an email at I'm always open to questions for me to answer on the podcast. Oh, guess that you think would just be perfect for a future episode of The Pod. Thanks again for listening. Have a great week everyone. Until next week. By. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the Bunarong people where this podcast was recorded.


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