The Western Australian Government has announced expanded criteria for the ACROD Parking Program to include people with low vision and Guide Dog handlers.
The Hon. Don Punch MLA, Minister for Disability Services, made the announcement at a National Disability Services (NDS) media event at Parliament House. It follows a 2020 review by the Department of Communities and NDS, which administers the ACROD program.
The new criteria will increase the safety and ease of access for people with low or no vision when visiting locations including shopping centres, sports complexes, universities and other institutions.
“VisAbility and Guide Dogs WA welcome the changes to ACROD eligibility announced by the McGowan Government,” said VisAbility and Guide Dogs WA Acting Chief Executive Officer Tim Platts.
“Navigating a car park when using a white cane or with a Guide Dog is extremely challenging. The expansion of this program will enable people who are blind or vision impaired to access a range of venues with more independence and confidence.”
The government-led review included consultation with people with disability including peak advocacy body Blind Citizens Western Australia.
It also consulted with 530 community organisations and stakeholders including VisAbility and Guide Dogs WA.
Guide Dogs are specially trained to provide independence, opportunity and safety to their handler. These changes to the eligibility are a significant step in helping to ensure the safety of Guide Dogs and their handlers when entering and exiting a vehicle due to the wider space of ACROD bays. Additionally the location of the bays, which are generally near entrances will help Guide Dogs and their handlers confidently access locations.
The new criteria comes in to effect on 1 July 2021. Application for permits can be sourced from https://acrod.org.au/how-to-apply-individual/
The next phase of the ACROD Parking Program review will look at options to increase the number of available ACROD parking bays in WA.