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A day in their shoes: accessibility walkthrough shines light on everyday challenges faced by PWDs

Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2022 01:52 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2022 02:07 AM

As a person with a disability, Maureen Mata faces daily difficulties moving around Metro Manila. In terms of infrastructure, the streets and sidewalks can make her stumble. When she commutes, discrimination adds to her woes. 

"Minsan nakahawak na ko sa pinto ng taxi, biglang haharurot. Sa jeep, Sa harap talaga ako umuupo. actually nahulog na po ako sa jeep. nadadapa po ako. sa bus, ganun din po. wala pang 8 seconds na nakaakyat ako umaandar na yung driver." 

When on main roads, she usually stands next to MMDA officers so they can help her catch a ride. "Pag nakita na po ako ng MMDA, sila na po ang nag-aabang para sa akin. So yun nalang po yung ginagawa kong diskarte. Sila na lang yung nagsasabi sa driver tsaka sa konduktor na ibaba nila ako o alalayan nila ko sa pagbaba."

As a crutch user, she feels more fortunate - as she tried moving around using a wheelchair in a simulation. "Bubuhatin yung wheelchair paakyat ng jeep, hindi ko maimagine."

Advocates for inclusive mobility conducted an accessibility walkthrough with local officials and community organizers in Brgy. Milagrosa in Quezon City on July 24, 2022, in line with the observance of the 44th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

The activity aimed for participants to experience the everyday plight of persons with disabilities from traveling from their homes to accessing facilities and services to gain insight for recommendations of improvement for better accessibility. 

The government is mandated to ensure equal access to services for PWDs under Batas Pambansa 344 or the Accessibility Law. 

The walkthrough led by civil society groups Advocates of Inclusion, Move As One Coalition, and LENTE, with some using wheelchairs, navigated various facilities that can be improved for inclusive accessibility, from the barangay hall, a day care center, Pura V, Kalaw Elementary School, up to the Persons with Disability Affairs Office at the Quezon City Hall.

Along the way, the group with barangay officials also assessed the state of the streets and sidewalks and how it can be accessible to pedestrians, especially for PWDs.

Brgy. Milagrosa chairman Alejandro Cuizon vowed to make the physical improvements in his jurisdiction after experiencing the difficulties PWDs faced himself, starting with repairs of the comfort room, entrance, and PWD ramps in the barangay hall. Cuizon experienced needing 3 people to assist him going around the hall with the current setup.

"Sa aking pag-upo sa wheelchair, nakita ko talaga na napakahirap para sa kanila. Kung paano sila kumikilos para sa sarili nila"

Cuizon also vowed to make improvements in Brgy. Milagrosa's streets. "Kung titignan natin, kung sa sidewalk, hindi maginhawa - may mga punong nakaobstruct, gate ng mga residente. . .kung gano karami yung gate na dadaanan."

The group aims to conduct these walkthroughs nationwide, setting their sights in Naga next. At the end of the day, these calls for improvement on accessibility to movement and services is not just for PWDs, but for everyone. 

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Move As One Coaliton's Maureen Mata assists Brgy. Milagrosa chairman Alejandro Cuizon in the usage of the wheelchair during the accessibility walkthrough. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.

Mata checks the facilities of the barangay hall as part of an accessibility walkthrough with advocates for inclusive mobility. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Vehicles occupy the sidewalks during the walkthrough done in line with the observance of the 44th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Mata accesses a sidewalk as part of the walkthrough. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Advocates for inclusive mobility conduct an accessibility walkthrough with local officials and community organizers in Brgy. Milagrosa. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Sidewalks remain limited in the barangay. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Mata and Cuizon use wheelchairs around the barangay. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The participants navigate an unpaved road. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Cuizon experiences the challenges of PWDs during the walkthrough. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Participants access a sidewalk towards Pura V, Kalaw Elementary School as part of the walkthrough. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Participants use the ramp at Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Participants try to access a SPED classroom at the school. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Cuizon is lifted over steps while seated in a wheelchair. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Cuizon vowed to make improvements in Brgy. Milagrosa's streets. "Kung titignan natin, kung sa sidewalk, hindi maginhawa - may mga punong nakaobstruct, gate ng mga residente. . .kung gano karami yung gate na dadaanan."