Goods, services and facilities
Updated October 2009 . For more recent outcomes please refer to the Commission's conciliation register
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that when she took her 11 year old nephew to a museum as part of an interstate family holiday, he was denied access to important parts of the collection on the basis of her disability. Children under 12 were required to be accompanied by an adult; access to some of the exhibits was not feasible for the complainant because of her disability; and the respondent had declined a request to permit the boy to be accompanied by a museum staff member instead.
The complaint was resolved when the museum agreed to provide airfares and accommodation costs to allow the nephew and an adult to come from their home state to return to visit the museum; to counsel its staff about service for people with a disability and their associates; and to amend its Disability Action Plan to refer to the service needs of associates of people with a disability.
In another complaint, a number of Deaf and hearing impaired people complained that a museum was not accessible to people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. The complaint was resolved with the respondent agreeing to implement a number of measures to improve accessibility including:
installation of two public phones with variable volume control and induction loop;
provision, upon request, of a portable TTY keyboard appliance that can be used in conjunction with the public payphones;
installation of cash registers with outward facing displays;
provision of disability access information on its website;
incorporating training on customer service to Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment into existing staff training;
reviewing access to exhibitions and facilities at the museum, including audio-visual installations, films, and lectures;
provision of verbal information in alternative formats pending outcome of the review; and
review of signage at the museum
Interpreting in hospital
A man who is Deaf complained that during a two week stay in hospital he was not provided with an Auslan interpreter. The hospital argued that effective communication had been conducted through written notes and other means. The complaint was resolved with the hospital paying $8,000 compensation.
On line shopping access
A woman who is blind complained that some features of an online shopping side were inaccessible. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that it was in the process of upgrading its website to improve accessibility, and agreed to provide the complainant with shopping credits to the value of $460.00 and to include her in accessibility testing for the upgraded site.
Cinema captioning expanded
A woman who is deaf complained that several suburban cinemas in her area did not provide captioned films. The complaint was resolved when the cinema chain agreed to extend captioning facilities and screenings to one of the three locations involved.
A man who has a vision impairment complained that a utility provider's website was inaccessible to him. Problems included text with fixed font sizes which users could not enlarge for viewing, and inadequate colour contrasts. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to upgrade the site to meet World Wide Web Consortium accessibility requirements.
Television captioning increases
A number of deaf and hearing impaired people complained that they were being discriminated against in access to broadcast television programming because not all programs were captioned. The complaints were resolve when the broadcasters advised they had committed to a further round of increases in captioning levels pursuant to a temporary exemption approved by the Commission (see the Exemptions page for details).
It's a long way to the shop
A woman who uses a mobility aid complained that access in the aisles of a local shop was frequently blocked by stacked boxes. The complaint was resolved when shop management agreed to improve customer feedback procedures so that management could be aware sooner of access problems and address them.
In another complaint a woman who uses an electric wheelchair complained that the entrance to her local supermarket was not wide enough for her to enter and that she thus had to wait for people to complete their purchases so she could enter through the accessible checkout exit. The complaint was resolved when the supermarket agreed to reposition fittings to provide a more accessible entrance.
Alternatives to credit card
A man with an intellectual disability complained that he had been unable to book holiday accommodation at several venues because a credit card was required. He had not been able to gain access to a credit card because of his low income from Disability Support Pension payments. The complaint was settled when the venues agreed to accept alternative forms of payment.
Hotel access features upgraded
A number of people with physical disability complained that a hotel where they had attended a conference had a series of access barriers. The complaints were resolved when the hotel agreed to conduct an access audit and implement a number of upgrades to premises and procedures, including an access features checklist for guests, renovation of sections of the reception desk, bar and buffet which were too high, and improved signage.
Hearing loop access
A man who uses a hearing aid complained that he had been unable to participate effectively in a quasi-regulatory process because the organisation responsible had not provided a functioning hearing loop. The complaint was resolved when the organisation responsible agreed to install hearing loops in a number of its meeting rooms.
Regional cinema captioning
A man who is deaf complained that movies at the cinema in the regional town where he lives did not have captions. The complaint was resolved when the cinema agreed to install captioning display equipment and schedule three captioned screenings per week.
Hotel access for man with intellectual and physical disability
A man who has an intellectual disability and a back injury affecting his gait complained that he had been refused access to a public bar because staff mistakenly thought he was intoxicated. The complaint was resolved when the hotel apologised and advised that they had adopted a procedure intended to avoid such incidents recurring, including requiring staff to check with the most senior manager present if a person appeared intoxicated but had identified themselves as having a disability.
Large print bills
A woman who has a vision impairment complained that she had been charged late fees for failing to pay bills which she could not read as the utility company did not provide bills in large print. The complaint was resolved when the company agreed to waive the late fees and to provide large print bills on request.
A woman who has a vision impairment complained that the online banking facilities of her credit union were not accessible to her because of the manner in which security features had been implemented. The complaint was resolved when the credit union agreed to upgrade its site to provide an accessible method for verifying identity.
A man who experienced a workplace injury complained that a mobile phone provider refused him a phone contract because it did not regard income from workcover payments as sufficiently secure. The complaint was resolved when the provider agreed to remove this discriminatory policy.
Hearing access at hotel
A number of Deaf and hearing impaired people complained that a hotel did not provide accessible facilities. The complaint was resolved when the hotel undertook to develop an action plan in consultation with disability community representatives, including
- replacement of all existing televisions not able to support teletext with sets which do provide this capacity
- fitting of visual emergency warning strobe lights in a range of different classes of room and in selected public areas
- review of emergency procedures and staff training to ensure safety and equal service for guests with disability
- purchase of hospitality kits for hearing impaired guests including TTY enabled and hearing aid compatible phones and visual doorbell.
- A woman who is blind complained that a professional software package was not accessible to people using screen reading technology. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that it had commenced an accessibility project with the aim that accessibility would be provided in a forthcoming version of the software.
- A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that a medical specialist's rooms were not accessible. The specialist advised that he had several times requested the building owner to install ramp access but had been refused. The building owner was added as a respondent to the complaint. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide access during planned renovations.
- A young man who uses a wheelchair complained that when he attended a roller skating rink with friends he was required to leave the floor and that no accessible toilets had been available. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to upgrade physical access at the venue and to develop a policy on participation by people with disabilities.
- A man who is blind complained that account information with his credit union was available only in print. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that web based access to account information had been upgraded.
- A woman who has a disability and uses a scooter complained that the accessible change room in a clothing store was unavailable to her because it was being used as a storeroom. The complaint was resolved when store management agreed to keep the change room clear for its required use.
- A woman with a physical disability complained that restrictions on outdoor water use to use of handheld hoses only prevented her from watering her garden at all . The complaint was resolved when the water authority issued her a permit allowing use of a sprinkler to the same extent as would have been permitted for handheld watering.
- A mother of children with disabilities complained that she had been required to pay for tickets for her children's carers as well as for the children when they attended an entertainment event. The complaint was resolved when the venue advised that there had been a misunderstanding by its staff in applying its policies which did provide for carers to enter without charge where required for a person with a disability to participate in events.
- A man who is blind complained that a television competition was inaccessible to him because it required being able to see a key word flashed on screen. The complaint was resolved when the television station advised that it would adopt and apply Commercial Television Australia 's code on audio captioning which involves providing audio versions wherever possible of text used in emergency announcements, news flashes, competition entry details and sports and competition results.
- A woman who has a disability and uses a scooter complained that access to a clothing store had been blocked by placement of mobile racks. The complaint was resolved when the store advised that it had revised its procedures to ensure access would be kept clear and provided a $100 gift voucher .
- A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that a new digital television service, not included in previous Commission exemption decisions and conciliated agreements under the DDA, did not provide captioning. The complaint was resolved when the provider agreed to caption three programs nominated by the complainant and to examine options for further expansion of captioning.
Accessible signs and catalogues
A man who has a vision impairment complained that signs at his local library were not accessible to him. The complaint was resolved when the council agreed to provide staff assistance with advance notice; conduct staff training on disability access; increase the print size on charts in the library; investigate adaptive technology including large print catalogues and audio catalogues and provide updates on this after 6 months.
Adjustment to water restrictions procedure
A woman with a physical disability complained that she was unable to water her garden within the restrictions imposed by her council, which permitted watering within daylight hours only using a bucket or watering can which she could not lift. She could use a hose but her condition made her too tired in the evenings when this was permitted. The complaint was resolved when the council revised its policy to permit limited hose watering where a person could produce medical evidence of inability to use a bucket or watering can.
Online access to IT help
A woman with a hearing impairment complained that when she sought help from an information technology company with a recently purchased product she was told that assistance was only available over the phone rather than by email. The complaint was settled when the respondent company apologized, offered 12 months free access to a service upgrade, and advised that the advice had been given in error through the customer service officer missing the notification in the customer's email that she had a hearing impairment, as in this case company policy documents did provide for online assistance as well as having procedures for assisting customers using TTY relay services.
Inaccessible disability equipment service relocated
A disability advocacy service complained that one of its clients who uses a wheelchair lacked adequate access to a PADP (Program of Appliances for Disabled People) service at a hospital. The complaint was settled with an agreement to relocate the service to an accessible facility no later than June 2006; to develop a disability access plan; and to move the service back to accessible premises within the hospital on completion of construction of new hospital buildings.
Opportunity to be tested for licence
A man who had one arm amputated at the elbow 30 years ago after suffering a hit and run accident complained that he was not being permitted to hold a licence to drive a manual car without modifications or ride a motorcycle without using a prosthetic arm. The complaint was settled when the licensing authority agreed to test the complainant for these purposes in the presence of an independent occupational therapist.
Access to government website
A man who has a vision impairment complained that a State Government Department's website was not accessible, so that he was not able to make fully informed comments on proposed legislation in the area. The complaint was resolved when the Department advised that it was undertaking a major project to achieve accessibility of its sites and documents; that all new documents from July 2005 would be provided in accessible formats on site and that any existing documents would be provided in accessible formats on request.
A woman who is blind complained that a utility company did not provide bills in an accessible format. She was seeking access to online billing as a private and convenient method of payment. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide in Braille a document setting out the range of payment options; continue a pilot project of providing summary bills in Braille; and make electronic text format bills available within 30 months.
Access to medical services
A man who has quadriplegia and uses a wheelchair complained that a radiology service refused to carry out x-ray or ultrasound procedures unless he provided his own hoist or assistants to transfer him from his wheelchair. The complaint was settled when the radiology service advised that it had purchased a transfer device and agreed to provide training to staff in responding appropriately to clients with disabilities.
Access to finance for vision impaired customers
A woman who is blind complained that she had been discriminated against when a credit provider refused to accept the Blind Citizens Australia identity card in place of a driver's licence, and required her to obtain legal advice as she could not read the printed contract herself. The matter was resolved when the respondent agrees to accept the Blind Citizens Australia card, to permit contracts to be read to a vision impaired person by an independent person rather than requiring a lawyer, and to investigate production of contracts in accessible formats.
A woman who has a mobility disability complained that a polling place did not provide adequate access, including the distance required to be traversed from accessible parking. The complaint was resolved when the electoral authority agreed to raise the issues concerned with its disability advisory committee.
Access to adventure experience
A man who has one hand complained that a tour operator excluded him from parts of its experience which involved climbing ladders, so that he was separated from the rest of the group and felt humiliated. The complaint was settled with a refund of the costs of his visit, an apology and an undertaking to review the operator's policies.
Access to medical facilities
A woman whose elderly mother uses a wheelchair complained about inaccessible facilities when her mother went to an X-ray appointment at a suburban radiography clinic. There were no accessible toilet facilities in that handrails were lacking and there was limited room to manoeuvre or for an assistant; the change room was too small to accommodate a person in a wheelchair; and there was no assistance available to assist in transferring to the X-ray table.
The respondent regraded provision of an accessible toilet as involving unjustifiable hardship. Only one radiographer was on site at any time and additional assistance was not available.
The matter was settled with agreement to install a support rail in the patient toilet and to provide advice in advance of limitations on available assistance.
Food counter access
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he could not see the food options at the counter because a queuing bar had been placed too close to the counter. The complaint was resolved when the respondent agreed to remove the bar and if necessary only relocate it in accordance with Australian Standards on access.
Airline bookings for hearing dog users
A man who has a hearing impairment and uses a hearing dog complained that an airline he wished to travel with requested notice of passengers being accompanied by a hearing dog, but that this notice could only be provided by booking by phone and not through the more convenient and economical online booking facility. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it was revising its online booking facility to include the ability to note requirements such as being accompanied by an assistance animal.
Riders with disabilities
Parents complained that a horse riding excursion arranged for their adult children with disabilities by a respite care service had been cancelled on discriminatory grounds. The riding venue raised concerns about insurance coverage for riders with disabilities and staff supervision and other safety issues. The complaint was settled when the respondent apologised and agreed to develop guidelines for assessing all potential riders for safety.
Transfers of mental health patients
A woman who has a mental illness complained that she had been discriminated against by excessive security requirements when her illness required her to be transferred to a capital city hospital. She had been required to be sedated, restrained and accompanied by a police escort. The respondent advised that restraint and escort were considered standard safety requirements for transporting involuntary patients to prevent incidents in transit. The complaint was resolved with an agreement by the provider to review relevant aspects of its guidelines.
Wheelchair access to and on aircraft
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that his own wheelchair had not been returned promptly for use after arrival on two flights, and that on one of these occasions he had been provided only with an aisle chair for a substantial period depriving him of independent movement and requiring him to request assistance to get to the bathroom, which he found degrading. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed to refund the cost of the flights, update its disability awareness training for cabin crew and check in staff, and investigate the provision of independently operable wheelchairs at ports to provide a backup option for independent mobility in the event of delays in restoring a passenger's access to his or her own chair.
Captioned cinema in regional town
A woman who is deaf complained that her local cinema complex did not have regular screenings of captioned films. The respondent pointed to delays in gaining access to captioned prints until city showings were finished (using the current approach of producing a small number of prints of a film with captions burned in permanently, which as noted elsewhere on this site is being replaced with a more flexible digital system) and consequent difficulties in attracting patronage. However, the complaint was settled with an agreement to introduce one captioned film each month with showings on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings.
A man who stated that he has sensitivities to a range of chemicals complained that a retail shop was inaccessible to him because of strong fragrances worn by checkout staff. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the store agreed to request staff to avoid strong fragrances, and to raise with its departments issues of use of the least toxic paints, glues and building materials available, non-allergenic carpeting, and warnings when toxic materials were present.
Independent access to banking withdrawals
A women who has a vision impairment complained that her bank no longer provided guide templates to enable her to fill in details on withdrawal forms independently. The matter was settled when the bank advised that although it had withdrawn the templates in response to reduced demand, it would conduct trials of a new template and reintroduce the template subject to those trials.
Supermarket obstacles removed
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that her local supermarket did not provide effective access because of barriers including displays and goods stacked in the aisles. The complaint was settled when the supermarket agreed to remove turnstile barriers at the entrance, ensure that the accessible checkout lane was always one of those open, convey instructions to staff about keeping passages clear, and remodel displays to avoid these presenting a barrier.
Access to video hire
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that his local video store was not accessible, so that to hire a video he had to knock on the window, wait for a staff member to come, ask them to find a particular video and wait for them to come back with the video if it was available, rather than browsing and choosing like other customers. The matter was settled when the video store and the building owner agreed to each meet half the cost of a portable ramp, enabling the customer to enter and choose his own videos.
Communication for hearing impaired patients
A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that when attending hospital for treatment of related medical issues she had information given to her orally and through friends rather than in writing as requested. The matter was settled with an apology, and an undertaking that disability awareness training of staff would be enhanced and note takers would be provided for communication with hearing impaired people on request.
Access to bills
A woman who has a vision impairment complained that a communications company only provided bills in paper form. They had offered Braille but (in common with many people who lose vision late in life) she did not read Braille. The matter was settled when the company agreed to provide bills in large font form.
In another case, a woman who is blind complained that a communications company was discriminating against her in only providing accounts in print and advising that provision of accounts in Braille or electronic form was not a service it provided. The matter was resolved when the respondent company agreed to provide accounts by email and to pay for a software upgrade for the complainant to access the accounts in the format provided.
Information in health service
A woman with a vision impairment complained that a medical centre she attended for a pain management program did not provide program information in an accessible format. The centre advised that it did not have the materials available electronically and had been concerned about the expense of making audio tapes professionally. The matter was settled without admission of liability with an agreement to pay $5000 damages and to provide the material in an accessible format.
Fragrance free access
A man who has adverse reactions to perfumes complained that he was unable to access his local pharmacy because of fragrances, in particular near the checkout area. The matter was settled when the pharmacy chain agreed to develop a system of zones in its premises including fragrance free aisles, and a home delivery service.
Access to course materials
A man with a reading disability complained that when he attended a course on relationship issues he was not provided with forms and materials in a form he could access. A tutor had read out the form and filled in details for him but this had been done in front of the class. The respondent had advised it did not have the time or money to put materials on tape. The matter was resolved when the respondent apologised and agreed to request providers of course materials to provide materials on tape or give permission for the respondent to place materials on tape.
Child care access for child requiring assistance in feeding
A mother complained that her son, who required feeding through a naso-gastric
tube due to a disability, had been discriminated against when the child
care centre he attended advised that staff would not be able to feed him
or give medication through the tube. The complaint was settled when the
centre agreed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that staff with training
in this method of feeding were available.
A woman who is deaf complained that a Commonwealth Government service
provision agency failed to provide TTY access in circumstances where standard
telephone access was part of the service provided. The complaint was settled
when the agency agreed to install TTY facilities in each of its offices
where existing customers were identified as being deaf or hearing or speech
impaired and to install TTYs within 28 days at any office where a new
customer requiring TTY access was identified, and to train its staff in
use of TTYs.
Driving licence for man with physical disability
A man who had lost his lower right arm complained that he was being subjected
to unreasonable requirements to gain his drivers licence. The complaint
was settled when the licencing authority advised that the man had been
granted a provisional licence on condition that he drive a car fitted
with appropriately adjusted controls for steering and indication.
Interpreting in court
A woman who has high frequency deafness and relies extensively on lipreading
complained that an aural interpreter had not always been provided in court
proceedings she was involved in and that when an interpreter was provided
requests to repeat matters or slow down to allow accurate interpreting
had not been complied with. The complaint was settled with an apology,
an undertaking to ensure provision of an interpreter whenever requested
in future, and a commitment to ensure disability awareness training for
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that no accessible booth was
planned to be in place in her area for a local government election. The
complaint was settled when the electoral authority undertook to make every
effort to ensure availability of an accessible booth in the postcode area
concerned for the forthcoming election; and to identify and secure accessible
venues in each area so as to ensure a minimum of 50% accessible booths
at general elections.
Post box access
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the slots on street posting
boxes were too high to reach. The complaint was settled when the respondent,
although arguing that replacement of all its post boxes would be unreasonable,
agreed to develop a prototype accessible post box by September 2004, and
trial its installation at selected locations.
Hearing loop access in cinema chain
A number of people with hearing impairments complained that a group of
cinemas either did not have hearing augmentation installed or else did
not have staff trained in use of the equipment. The complaint was settled
with an agreement by the cinema group to install infrared hearing augmentation
systems in all its cinemas, place appropriate signage and train staff
in the operation of the systems.
In another case a man who used a hearing aid complained that although
a cinema chain had hearing loops installed they frequently did not work.
The complaint was settled when the cinema chain agreed to check all hearing
loops and to recheck every 6 months.
Access to bank
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that ATM facilities at his bank
in a regional town were not accessible because the ramp gradient was too
steep. The complaint was settled when the bank advised that works to rectify
access were underway, and agreed to refund fees incurred because customers
with disabilities had had to use another bank's facilities.
Captioning of television advertisements
A man who is deaf complained that a car maker did not caption its television
advertisements. The complaint was settled when the car maker agreed to
caption all future ads, and the advertising agency agreed to use its best
endeavours to encourage all its clients to caption their ads.
Hearing loop for council meetings
A woman who has a hearing impairment and is a member of a local government
access committee complained that she was unable to hear or participate
properly in council meetings because the council did not provide a hearing
loop in its chambers. The matter was resolved when the council agreed
to install a hearing loop an dpublic address system.
Wildlife experience access
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that a wildlife viewing centre
had been permitted to move from an accessible to an inaccessible venue.
The matter was settled with payment of financial compensation and agreement
by the venue to install suitable access.
Phone service restored for hearing aid user
A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that when the induction
loop in her mobile phone failed, so that the phone would not work with
her hearing aid and she was unable to run her business, the supplier indicated
they were unable to replace or repair it. The complaint was settled when
the phone was replaced.
Car rental with guide dog
A woman whose daughter is blind and uses a guide dog complained that
a car rental company had refused to rent them a car because they would
be accompanied by the dog. The complaint was settled when the company
undertook to ensure its staff and franchisees were aware of relevant requirements
of the DDA and other legislation recognising guide dogs.
Accommodating Tourette's syndrome
A man who has Tourette's syndrome (which can lead to involuntary outbursts
of offensive language) and an obsessive compulsive disorder complained
that he had been barred from a massage centre after an incident. The matter
was settled with mutual apologies over the incident and the adoption of
an improved procedure for handling complaints.
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that the accessible checkout lanes
at his local supermarket are frequently closed and that in any event the
EFTPOS machine is located too high to reach. The matter was conciliated
when the supermarket agreed to ensure that at least one accessible lane
will always be open.
Auslan interpreters in health care
A woman and her husband, both of whom are deaf, complained that when
they attended a private hospital they were told they would only be given
an interpreter if they paid for the costs themselves. The complaint was
settled when the hospital advised that it had changed its policy on interpreters
to include Auslan and arranged disability awareness training for emergency
department staff and all new staff.
Proof of age for people with disabilities
A 27 year old woman with an intellectual disability complained she had
been denied entry to a hotel when she could not produce proof that she
was over 18 as she lacked a driving licence. The complaint was settled
when the hotel agreed to accept a copy of the woman's birth certificate
as proof and to lobby in support of a generally available and acceptable
proof of age card.
Food festival access
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that many of the stands at a
major food festival had been placed up on inaccessible platforms. The
matter was settled when the organisers apologised, reimbursed the complainant's
entry fee and promised to ensure that future festivals would be accessible.
Captioning of political advertising
A man who has a hearing impairment complained that a political party's
television campaign advertisements in a State election were not accessible
to him because they were not captioned. The matter was settled when the
party agreed that all future television advertising would be captioned.
Assistants accommodated for football matches
A number of people with disabilities which mean that they require personal
assistance complained that they were being discriminated against by having
to pay for tickets for their assistants as well as themselves when attending
football matches. The complaint was settled when the respondents advised
that they would join the "Companion Card" scheme being implemented
in their State providing free entry for a person accompanying a person
requiring an assistant, and would make their own interim arrangements
for free entry for assistants accompanying a person with a disability.
Amusement park ride access
A mother complained that her daughter who has a physical disability had
been discriminated against by being denied access to rides at an amusement
park. The park operators referred to safety concerns for people who could
not enter and exit unassisted. The complaint was settled however when
they advised they had adjusted the physical requirements for a number
of rides to allow for assisted entry and exit and arranged for provision
of an escort service for people with disabilities.
Hearing loop at theatre
A father complained that he and his children, who have hearing impairments,
were being discriminated against because the respondent cinema did not
have a hearing loop system to provide him and the children with equal
access to the movie soundtrack. The complaint was settled with an agreement
to install a hearing loop system covering at least 80% of the seating
by June 2004; to maintain the loop and train staff in its use; and to
provide appropriate signage and a seating map indicating which seats were
covered by the loop.
Harbour cruise boat access
A woman whose husband has had both legs amputated complained that a harbour
cruise which the couple had booked was not wheelchair accessible without
assistance although she had been assured when booking that access was
provided. The complaint was settled when the operator agreed to update
its website and other information to ensure that accurate information
was provided on the requirements for access to its boats.
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the gym she wanted to join
was not accessible to her. The matter was settled when the gym advised
that although they could not agree to make the existing gym accessible,
since the building was scheduled for demolition in the near future and
their lease was expiring, they would ensure that the new premises to replace
it were accessible.
Club adjusts drinks service
A woman whose toes had been amputated complained that she had been discriminated
against when her club refused to serve her cans of drink unopened. Her
disability affected her walk and meant she could not carry drinks without
spilling. The complaint was settled when the club agreed to serve her
Customer correspondence in accessible format
A woman who is blind complained that a major service provision organisation
does not provide her with correspondence in a form that she can access.
She has been offered a service of having her correspondence read to her
over the telephone but she does not believe that this provides a comparable
service or facility to a client who receives a letter they can read.
The respondent acknowledged that the complainant's letters are not provided
in Braille at this time but that it does offer the option to people who
are blind to have their letters read to them. It claimed that it recognises
the importance to its customers having information in easy read formats
and has been developing a project that will identify how customers prefer
to be contacted. It expects in the future to be able to respond to individual
customers such as the complainant in a more personalised way, taking into
account their particular needs and preferences for the way in which they
The complaint was resolved through conciliation with an agreement being
signed that the respondent would have the complainant's correspondence
scanned onto disc and sent to her home and that a nominee will contact
her to advise her that the disc has been posted to her.
Television information in audio format
A man who is blind complained that he he could not access information
on commercial television stations which was displayed visually during
television programs and promotions (such as competition entry details
and phone numbers) because it was not accompanied by audio information.
A conciliation conference was held and the parties agreed that the industry
body would develop industry guidelines for audio captioning which would
be widely distributed both internally and externally to producers of material
for broadcasting. The industry guidelines will require audio captioning
of on-screen textual information to be provided wherever reasonable and
practicable, relating to emergency announcements, details of competitions,
news flashes and sports results. The aim of the guidelines (to be developed
by July 2003) is to ensure that audio captioning is applied consistently
across the television networks.
Service in shop
A war veteran who, although able to stand, uses a wheelchair for mobility,
complained that he was discriminated against in a shop by being ignored
by staff and refused assistance in getting items from high shelves when
he asked for help. The complaint was resolved when the respondent provided
a free sample of its product, apologized and explained that the customer
service officer had been busy and had not noticed that the complainant
had a disability.
Access to film festival
A man who has quadriplegia and uses an electric wheelchair complained
that when he went to see several films during a film festival, some of
the theatres in which festival films were screened were not accessible
and that he was given incorrect information by festival staff regarding
the wheelchair accessibility of festival venues. He also states that the
festival website did not have information on the wheelchair accessibility
The Festival agreed to provide information about wheelchair accessibility
of the cinemas on its website. It also agreed to improve the training
of its staff for future festivals and encourage the venues that it uses
to improve their wheelchair accessibility. The cinemas agreed to consider
the complainant's concerns in any future renovations to be done at the
cinema. It also agreed to improve the training of its staff in the wheelchair
accessibility of the cinema.
A woman complained that when her ex-husband died and was found to have
had the hepatitis C virus, although she advised the funeral service that
it was of cultural importance for friends and family of the deceased as
an Aboriginal person to be able to kiss and/or touch the deceased to say
good-bye, this opportunity was denied to them
The respondent confirmed that it did advise mourners that it might be
wiser not to touch the body as the deceased had a communicable disease
but denied restraining or preventing anyone from touching the body.
The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed
without admission of liability that the funeral service would make a commitment
to respecting the cultural practices of people of Aboriginal descent in
the "sorry business", to waive the $350 owed to it by the complainant,
continue to attend appropriate training and pay the complainant $1,000
Access to government information
A man who has a vision impairment complained that a government department's
website service was not accessible to him because of the format that it
was provided in. The complainant advised that he was willing to withdraw
his complaint if the respondent modified the website so that it complied
with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
either directly or through an accessible alternative. The department responded
with a draft website accessibility action plan. The plan details the actions
the respondent will take to provide access to its materials in alternative
formats. In the interim the complainant was also provided with text versions
of all the documents which he required from the website. The complainant
advised that he was satisfied with plan proposed by the respondent and
he thanked the Commission for its assistance with this matter.
Service when accompanied by trained animal
A man who is blind and uses a guide dog complained that when he went
to lunch at the respondent family restaurant, staff questioned him about
having his guide dog accompany him and insinuated that he did not in fact
have any vision impairment. He claimed that the manager waved his hand
in front of his eyes to check whether he could see it. A conciliation
conference was conducted and the respondent agree to provide a verbal
apology, reinforce staff training in disability awareness issues and to
pay the complainant $1,000 to compensate for the distress he experienced.
Access to banking services
A woman who is blind complained that her bank had discriminated against
her by not providing accessible banking services, specifically accessible
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Internet banking services. The complaint
was withdrawn when the bank advised that:
- it recognised that many ATMs were not accessible to people who are
- it is playing an active part in industry efforts to identify and implement
solutions, including industry working groups which aim to establish
industry standards for ATM's and Internet Banking as well as Interactive
Voice Response and EFTPOS, arising from HREOC's accessible e-commerce
- it also is in the process of improving accessibility for people with
disabilities by introducing standard screen functions across the ATM
- customers who cannot access ATMs are entitled to fee concessions;
- it is currently developing an audio output ATM.
Hotels provide television captioning
A woman with a hearing impairment complained that a hotel she stayed
in did not provide text facilities on in-house television for movies,
cable television etc.
The complaint was resolved when the hotel agreed to install 3 teletext
televisions into the hotel. Further teletext televisions would be installed
into all hotel rooms as televisions require replacement. Availability
of caption facilities would also be included in the hotel brochure, and
notified to the Australian Caption Centre for publication on its website.
A number of similar complaints led to similar agreements by other hotels
during 2001-2002, including one chain which agreed to install teletext
facilities in 10% of all rooms and to give a 15% discount to deaf people
until that target was achieved.
Mobile phones for disability pensioners
A man who receives a disability pension complained that because of this
he had been refused service by a mobile phone provider. The company confirmed
that it did not service people who receive disability pensions (or sole
parent pensions) because it regarded them as presenting too high a risk
of non-payment. After a conciliation conference the company agreed to
provide service to the complainant.
Fee waived for easy call facility
A man who has cerebral palsy complained that he was charged an extra
fee for easy dial facilities which for him were essential to be able to
use the phone, rather than being an add on feature as for other customers.
The complaint was settled when the telecommunications company agreed to
waive the fee for this facility for people whose disability made dialling
A woman with a disability complained that a priest at a place of worship
had told people in wheelchairs to sit on the floor as this was the rule
in temples in India. The complaint was settled when the religious organisation
advised that the incident had been an error by a visiting priest who was
not aware of the organisation's policy which did permit adjustments to
general practices to provide access.
Web site access
A woman who is blind complained that a real estate information site was
inaccessible because it could not be read by her screen reader software.
The complaint was resolved when the organisation which maintains the site
made changes to ensure the site was accessible.
A woman with a mobility impairment complained that portable toilets supplied
by a festival in a regional town were not accessible. The complaint was
withdrawn when the festival provided information on efforts it had undertaken
to secure accessible toilets in the region and confirmed that it would
undertake additional measures for this purpose in future.
Access to choice of goods
A woman who has rheumatoid arthritis complained that she was unable to
choose from a selection of goods available on the second floor of a local
store as she is unable to use stairs. Staff were prepared to bring samples
down for her but this was time consuming and provided only partial access.
The complaint was resolved when the store undertook a rearrangement of
displays to provide a wider range on the accessible floor.
Higher price for accessible cruise cabin
The daughter of a woman who has had a stroke and uses a wheelchair complained
that she had been discriminated against on the basis of the mother's disability
when she booked cabins on a cruise boat. Only outside cabins, which were
higher priced, were accessible, and there were also access problems with
an associated tour. After a conciliation conference the complaint was
settled with an agreement to reimburse the cost of the tour and improve
Ticket dispensing machines reviewed
A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that her bank had installed
a ticket dispensing machine which she was unable to access because she
could not reach the ticket dispenser. The bank advised that it understood
that the machine had been made in accordance with Australian Standards
and therefore should be accessible. However, it was willing to attend
a conciliation conference to discuss the issues the complainant was having
with the machines. The complaint was resolved with the respondent agreeing
to engage the services of a design engineer to study the designs of the
machine and ensure it does meet with Australian Standards. It further
agreed to ensure that at the branches which the complainant used regularly
the ticket dispensing machines are accessible for her.
Carer attendance at camp
A woman complained on behalf of her daughter, aged 8, who has cerebral
palsy and requires a higher level of assistance than other members of
the respondent community sporting organisation. The complaint was that
the organisation had levied a charge to cover the living costs at a sporting
camp for the girl's one-to-one attendant. Other camp members were provided
with volunteer general helpers and were not charged for their living costs.
The complaint was resolved when the respondent agreed to accept the girl's
enrolment at the next camp without charging for her carer, and to initiate
a policy for any other children who require individual attendants to attend
future camps without charge for their carers' living costs.
A man who is blind complained that his bank's ATM's are inaccessible
to him. The complaint was settled when the bank agreed to adopt an industry
standard on ATM access which had recently been negotiated with assistance
from the Commission.
A woman who is blind complained that her mobile phone bills were notprovided
in a form accessible to her. The complaint was settled when the telecommunications
company agrees to provide bills in Braille.
Truck driver's licence
A man complained he had been discriminated against when he was refused
a heavy vehicle licence because he did not meet the visual acuity standard
prescribed. The complaint was settled when the licensing body advised
that a review of requirements meant the man could now be tested for a
Enforcement of disabled parking spaces
A woman with a mobility impairment complained that use of disabled parking
at her local supermarket was not policed, so that these parking spaces
were in practice seldom available for people with disabilities. The complaint
was settled when the store advised it had commenced a trial of enforcement
by council officers in co-operation with the local council.
Entertainment centre access
A man who uses a wheelchair for mobility complained that when he rang
the respondent to purchase two tickets to a concert to be held in 5 weeks
time he was advised that the wheelchair accessible spaces were sold out.
The complainant was advised that wheelchair spaces were provided to people
with a range of other disabilities who could also have used standard seats.
The complaint was settled with agreement to a revised ticketing policy
to give priority to wheelchair users for an wheelchair accessible spaces
until 7 days before an event.
Video hire membership
A young woman with an intellectual disability complained that she had
been refused membership of a video hire store. The store appeared to have
believed that because of her disability she would not be able to be responsible
in returning videos. The complaint was settled with an apology and payment
Access to regulatory documents
A number of people with vision impairments complained that an agency
issuing a draft regulatory document with particular relevance to vision
impaired people had refused to provide this document in Braille. The matter
was settled when the respondent agreed to provide a Braille version and
to extend the consultation period to enable Braille users to participate.
Deaf access to tourist experience
Two deaf people complained that they had been discriminated against when
a tourist adventure experience failed to provide them with Auslan interpreting
or a printed copy of the commentary provided by the guide on the experience.
The matter was settled without admission of liability when the respondent
advised it had made arrangements as follows: two sessions per month with
interpreting provided; trials of a hearing loop on the experience; a booklet
for deaf participants and a summary sheet of instructions for the experience;
and free participation for the complainants to enable them to provide
feedback on these arrangements.
Physical accessibility of fast food chain
A woman complained that her daughter
who uses a wheelchair was being discriminated against because of disability,
due to access limitations of most of the restaurants in her local area
of a major fast food chain, in that
- because of fixed
seating she could not sit comfortably at tables and had to sit in the
aisle, blocking access for other patrons and requiring meals to be interrupted
frequently for her to be moved to let them pass
- in some restaurants
where her wheelchair would not fit in the aisle she was unable to eat
in the dining area at all
- heavy front doors
made it difficult for her to enter the restaurant
- in most of the restaurants
concerned the toilets were not accessible
- some of the restaurants
lacked an accessible route from parking spaces to the restaurant.
settlement negotiations were complicated by different views of how far
the parent organisation was responsible for and in a position to direct
actions of holders of existing franchises, the complaint was ultimately
settled without admission of liability on the basis that the respondent
company would prepare and implement an Action Plan in accordance with
a draft agreed with the complainant. The draft provided for an access
audit of all sites, access improvements identified as required to be undertaken
by the company at sites operated by itself, and the company to assist
franchisees to undertake required improvements at franchised sites. A
number of modifications to particular restaurants were also agreed and
implemented during the course of the negotiations on the wording of the
Provision of Auslan interpreter by health service
The complainant and her husband are profoundly deaf. The complainant's
husband accompanied her when she was admitted to hospital for the birth
of their second child. The complainant requested that an Auslan interpreter
be available for her but no interpreter was provided. The baby was delivered
by emergency caesarean section. The baby sustained an injury during the
surgery and was taken away to be assessed for surgery. The complainant
stated that she and her husband had no idea what was happening and the
process was terrifying for them. Eventually, a doctor wrote a note which
explained why the baby had been taken away. On another occasion the complainant
attended the outpatient department of the same hospital and no interpreter
was provided. The complainant alleged that the hospital had discriminated
against her on the ground of her disability.
The hospital stated that staff were of the understanding that the complainant
had sufficient lip-reading skills to ensure effective communication. The
respondent claimed that staff did not rule out getting an interpreter
but due to the emergency circumstances surrounding the birth there was
insufficient time to make such arrangements. The hospital acknowledged
that the process would have been frightening but said that had an interpreter
been present there would have been minimal communication between staff
and the complainant as staff were focused on the surgery.
The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing
to pay the complainant $7,500 in compensation and to introduce a policy
whereby interpreters would be provided at every consultation with deaf
access to information kiosks
A woman who is blind complained that
a government department had discriminated against her because information
kiosks installed by them were not accessible to her. The complaint was
settled without admission of liability by an agreement for the respondent
- submit to the National
Federation of Blind Citizens Australia (NFBCA) by February 1998 a proposal
for a trial to improve accessibility of the kiosk to blind and vision
impaired users through installation at one kiosk of a telephone handset
linking the user to an operator, and advise NFBCA by March 1998 of a
timetable for implementation of the proposed trial
- meet with the complainant
or NFBCA at three month intervals unless otherwise agreed, to discuss
progress in relation to
- the telephone
- the installation
and operation of telephone handset facilities at other kiosks
- transition to
internet based technology
- development and
application of touchscreen based technology with speech output capacity
- other options
for increasing the accessibility of information presented through
to cafe service
man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was discriminated against
by the lack of access to the inside area of a Sydney city cafe, which
was up five stairs. The matter was settled without admission of liability
when the proprietors agreed to install a buzzer at an accessible point
to enable patrons requiring service at the outside tables to attract attention.
access to ATMs
man who is blind complained that his bank was discriminating against him
by installing touch screen Automatic Teller Machines, which he could not
use, rather than machine with Braille markings on keys, which he could
use. The bank noted that it had selected features in new ATMs to assist
vision impaired users, although they were aware these did not assist totally
blind users. It was continuing to investigate access options for blind
users but did not regard satisfactory solutions as yet available. Only
one tenderer had been available for supply of ATMs meeting the bank's
specifications including those intended to assist customer with disabilities,
and this tenderer's products did not include the features sought by the
complainant. The matter was settled without admission of liability with
an agreement that when installing further machines the bank would ensure
a machine with Braille key markings was available in the vicinity, pending
more adequate technical solutions, and would continue to consult with
A young woman who uses a wheelchair because
of multiple sclerosis complained that she had been discriminated against
when she went to see a performance at a major Sydney live theatre venue,
on the basis that wheelchair accessible seating was only available in
the highest priced area and that she had been seated distant from her
accompanying person and was concerned for her safety. The complaint was
settled without admission of liability when the theatre:
- provided five additional
wheelchair spaces with removable seating to enable patrons with a disability
to sit with friends or other associates
- reconfigured the
area to provide more manoevring room
- appointed an access
consultant to work on further access improvements
- arranged for accessible
seating to be available at the full range of ticket prices.
facilities made accessible
man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was unable to enter a hotel
through the front entrance, gain access to the gaming room or use the
poker machines in that room, and that the hotel lacked accessible toilet
facilities. At a conciliation conference the parties came to an interim
agreement for consultative processes to determine possible access modifications.
The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the hotel
agreed to install accessible toilet facilities, provide ramped entry to
the front door, and advised that it had modified the entrance doors and
relocated the gambling facilities to make them accessible.
woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the external lift call button
panels on her local shopping centre's central lift were positioned too
high to be accessible. This meant she could not use the cafes, shops or
entertainment on upper floors. The shopping centre installed accessible
panels on all floors.
man who uses a wheelchair complained that the choices available to him
for seating at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre were very restricted,
and that he was unable to sit next to his wife. The conciliation of this
matter, in consultation with representative groups, resulted in
the AEC putting out a media release to announce its new arrangements.
There will now always be a seat for an associate next to each designated
wheelchair position and patrons using wheelchairs will also be able to
sit immediately behind seats for other family or friends, depending on
to ATM after working hours
A man who uses a wheelchair
complained that he could not use a bank's ATMs in a country town after
business hours as they were approached by a ramp through the branch banking
area which was closed after business hours. Initial attempts to resolve
the matter by provision of the same services through alternative means,
such as the ATMs of another bank, were unsuccessful. The respondent bank
submitted a development application (DA) to the Shire Council to install
an accessible ATM in the front facade of the branch. The same proposal
had been rejected in 1987 due to heritage concerns, and concerns about
queuing. A meeting was held with the complainant, Council planning officers
and bank representatives to discuss the DA, Council's concerns with the
DA and other options available to the complainant, bank and Council to
resolve the complainant's concerns if the DA were not approved by Council.
The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the DA was
approved and the bank advised that the additional ATM would be installed
within 2 months.
to a motel
complainant alleged that when he visited a motel it did not have suitable
access and accommodation facilities for people who use wheelchairs despite
being advertised in the NRMA Accommodation Directory as providing these
services. At a conciliation conference the respondent confirmed that alterations
would be made to the motel rooms, following discussions with an architect
and trades people. These would include the provision of shower chairs,
the installation of body sprays in all shower recesses and new and accessible
The respondent further
ensured that all motel and conference room staff would be properly instructed,
through the engagement of a local disability representative body, in assisting
persons in wheelchairs and in the use of wheelchairs with foot extensions
and that the motel would take steps to ensure that clients using wheelchairs
are provided with assistance and are made aware of the assistance available
from staff as required.
Access to credit facilities for man unable to sign
man who has cerebral palsy complained that his bank had discriminated
against him by refusing him a Bankcard credit card because he was unable
to sign his name and did not have a carer permanently with him able and
authorised to sign on his behalf. The bank advised that they were unable
to provide the credit card as requested since the terms governing Bankcard
cards were not under their exclusive control. In the conciliation process,
the complainant identified the services he was seeking to use the credit
card for, and alternative solutions for those services were identified
and agreed to. The complaint was settled without admission of liability
with the implementation of those arrangements including a phone banking
account and an overdraft facility operated by pin number.
status and loan application
complaint about a requirement to declare HIV status on a loan application
and consequent refusal to provide the loan was settled without admission
of liability on terms of $5000 compensation, an apology and agreement
to amend relevant policies and forms.
Several people who have mobility disabilities complained that Adelaide University's Elder
Hall, a major artistic venue also used for events during the Adelaide
Festival, was inaccessible to them. The University advised that it had
allocated funds to modify access to the Hall and had consulted with the
complainants and their advocates on the proposed plans. They further guaranteed
that the Hall would not be used for 1998 Festival events if it were not
favourable treatment in a hotel
complaints on behalf of a person who used a wheelchair and their companions
(or "associates") were lodged against a hotel, alleging that
staff demanded they move from where they were sitting and provided them
with less favourable treatment because of the disability of one of the
group. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the
respondent agreed to pay a sum of money, to write a letter of apology
to each complainant and to submit an article on disability discrimination
to the relevant industry journal.
controls for hire car
man complained that he was unable to hire a car fitted with hand controls,
which he required because of his disability, when he visited a major rural
centre. The car hire company agreed to provide a car with hand controls
on reasonable notice.
to dentist's rooms
woman complained that the premises where her dentist is located were difficult
to enter because there are several granite steps leading up to the foyer
of the building and no handrail. Her balance is affected by multiple sclerosis
and she has difficulties walking up steps.
The premises are leased
by Company A from Company B. When the complainant spoke to Company A she
was offered assistance if she phoned ahead that she was coming. She was
unhappy with this solution and made a complaint to the Commission. The
Commission contacted Company B, which owns the building. It responded
with a comprehensive proposal to enhance access to the foyer. In addition
to handrails at either side of the steps as requested by the complainant
it will install a central handrail, roughen the surface of the steps to
prevent slipping, and place white strips at the meeting edges of the automatic
glass doors to provide a visual indicator of their position. It agreed
to complete this work within four weeks.
registration fee for carer refunded
woman with a disability complained that she had been discriminated against
by the organisers of a conference in that she had been required to pay
an additional registration fee for her attendant carer who was not participating
in the conference. The matter was settled without admission of liability
when the respondent apologised, refunded the additional fees, and advised
that it had adopted a policy that registration fees would not be charged
for carers or support persons accompanying a conference participant with
fees lifted for people unable to use ATMs
representative complaint on behalf of people with vision impairments who
were unable to use automatic teller machines and reliant on over the counter
banking transactions alleged that they were being discriminated against
by a bank introducing fees for these transactions. Similar complaints
were made by a number of people with other disabilities limiting their
access to automatic teller machines. The complaints were settled without
admission of liability when the bank advised it had decided to introduce
fee exemptions for a range of customers reliant on over the counter services.
dog on tour
man who is blind complained he had been discriminated against when a tour
operator refused to allow him to be accompanied by his guide dog on a
mini bus tour. The operator had been concerned about lack of space in
the vehicle, and limited use of the dog in an unfamiliar environment.
The matter was settled without admission of liability when the operator
apologised, agreed to a change of policy to permit guide dogs in future
and paid some hundreds of dollars compensation.
access to hotel facilities
woman who uses a wheelchair complained that she had been discriminated
against when staff in the restaurant in a major Sydney hotel advised her
that there were no accessible toilets and she would have to go next door.
After the complaint was lodged it became apparent that there had in fact
been accessible toilets available but only on the carpark level. The complaint
was settled without admission of liability when the hotel agreed to apologise,
pay $500 compensation, place notices and ensure staff knowledge of location
of facilities, and ensure that more appropriate and adequate facilities
were included in future renovations of hotels operated by them.
of body of HIV positive man
associate of a man who died of an AIDS related illness and had hepatitis
C complained that she had been discriminated against in not being permitted
to dress his body or have the body viewed at the funeral. She complained
against the funeral company and against the union since the company's
employees were acting in accordance with union policy in refusing the
services requested. The complaint was settled without admission
of liability when the union advised that it had changed its policy such
that members would handle, dress and allow viewing of HIV or hepatitis
C positive people, and that further discussions would be held with health
authorities regarding other (invasive and thus more hazardous) procedures
access to ATMs
man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was unable to use automatic
teller machines at his local bank branches because of the positioning
of the keyboard. The complaint was settled without admission of liability
when the bank installed an accessible ATM at one of the branches and advised
that this was part of a wider program of replacing 700 ATMs with new machines
designed under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements to be accessible
to people with physical or vision impairments.
woman who uses a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis complained that
her local swimming pool was not accessible to her. She could not get into
the water other than by being tipped out of her wheelchair and could only
get out by being dragged up steps. The complaint was settled without admission
of liability when the local council agreed to implement interim access
measures including training pool attendants in safely assisting people
with disabilities into and out of the pool, and to undertake modifications
including installation of a hoist and upgrading of toilet and change rooms
as soon as budget provision could be made for this.
apologises to man asked to leave because of burn scars
man with burn scars complained that he had been told by staff in a shop
that he was "scaring other customers away". The matter was settled without
admission of liability with an apology from the shop's management.
access to payphones
man who has a disability requiring him to use a wheelchair complained
that he was being discriminated against in provision of services and facilities
in that new public payphones were too high for him to use. The complaint
was settled without admission of liability on the basis that Telecom Australia
advised that booths would be modified with a bracket to allow installation
of lowered payphones, and that an Action Plan was being developed which
would address accessibility of payphones further.