TWO popular local beaches now have permanent access ramps that lead to the water’s edge – a game-changer for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
New ramps have been installed at Park Beach and Carlton Beach which allow direct access for wheelchairs and other mobility devices from the carpark right down to the water.
Before installing the ramps, Sorell Council consulted with spinal cord injury and physical disability support organisation ParaQuad Tasmania for advice on how best to improve accessibility.
“After years of advocating for accessible beaches, to see what Sorell Council has delivered is fantastic,” ParaQuad accessible tourism officer Richard Witbreuk said.
“We believe it’s a first for Tasmania and it shows leadership and commitment to accessibility.”
A survey conducted by ParaQuad Tasmania in 2021, responded to by 40 people (70 per cent of whom were wheelchair users), found the biggest barriers to accessing a beach were lack of suitable ramps and difficulty getting to the sand.
“When council was developing the route for the Dodges Ferry Carlton Loop it was apparent that we needed to incorporate the beaches,” Sorell Mayor Kerry Vincent said.
“ParaQuad Tasmania made fantastic suggestions about what could be done and how we could make it work for people with differing levels of mobility.
“Once the route and beach accesses were established we also worked to ensure the onsite accessible parking was compliant and toilet signage implemented.
“These elements have really enhanced the beach accesses and made them much more widely accessible.”
ParaQuad Tasmania disability sports coordinator Kevin Faulkner lives nearby and is a wheelchair user. He has tested and is impressed with the new facilities.
“What’s good about this is that I can access the beach independently,” he said.
“I can get onto Carlton Beach and push all the way to Park Beach, and do it on my own if that’s what I want to do.”