Blind falling for dog
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A fifty year old low vision man and six year old totally blind boy are amongst those affected by the dangerous placement of a dog statue on the footpath outside a local supermarket in the main street in Muswellbrook.
For almost three months, two families have been battling with Muswellbrook Shire Council to have an ill-placed statue of a dog moved from its current position close to the building line, inhibiting the ability for cane users to safely 'shoreline', to a more suitable, and safe, location.
Muswellbrook Shire Council has ignored standards and its own policies and Disability Inclusion Strategy to place the statue in its current location. Although council workers have admitted it does create problems, they are unable to find the funds to move it often referring to the $10,000 cost involved.
Whilst the council continues to add other statues to the surrounding area in an attempt to beautify the main street, the issue of the dog remains. $10,000 is a small amount compared to the cost of independence to our low vision community including a man who must travel this way with his cane to collect the mail for his role as manager for a local organization and a young man who is only now learning to use a cane. It is also a lot less than a law suit against council for injury, or for a discrimination case, as council continues to deny dignified and equitable access to our low vision community.
Although MSC has opted to put in 'dots' around the dog to indicate that it is there, it is not adequate to protect either those with a vision impairment, inexperienced cane users or those with low mobility. Even mothers with prams or those distracted with phones or children run the risk of being injured by the statue when exiting the doors to the shopping complex.
To further compound the issue MSC do have a footpath policy that is not enforced and businesses place tables, chairs, umbrellas and sandwich boards against the building line as well. It is very difficult to ask businesses to abide by standards when council appears to have ignored them.
MSC do have a plan to move the statue in 2 years time when funds are available and the new multi-million dollar council office, now under construction, is complete. According to council the dog may be placed in the forecourt area of this building.
We ask for support in petitioning MSC to find the funds to move the statue now before any of our more vulnerable residents are injured or lose any more of their fragile independence.
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