I feel so encouraged by the changes I’m seeing in regards to access and inclusion at Australian airports. On my most recent trip overseas I took particular notice of a few facilities that I thought may be of assistance to our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community. Sensory maps, a Hidden Disabilities program and Changing Places bathrooms are all aimed at making travel more accessible to the community. I thought I’d highlight some of the facilities in the hope of assisting anyone with a disability departing or arriving into Sydney International Airport.
Sydney International Airport – Assistance lanes & Hidden Disability program
When we’ve travelled through Sydney International Airport we’ve always found airport staff to be quick to offer assistance. They’ve guided us through assistance lanes to save us winding our way through cattle grids and shorten our wait time. We are appreciative of anything that makes travel smoother and easier for Braeden.
The sunflower symbol used by the Hidden Disabilities program has now been added to the Assistance Lane. It’s worth applying for a Sunflower lanyard if you are travelling with a hidden disability or travelling with someone who lives with a hidden disability.
Sydney International Airport – Changing Places Bathrooms
I’m not sure if I’m always in a daze after a long-haul flight but this week was the first time I spotted the Changing Places bathroom in the arrivals hall at Sydney International Airport. I don’t know about you but the last thing I do before boarding a flight is nip to the bathroom and the same on my arrival at my destination. Obviously with the lack of suitable accessible facilities on aircraft, this is even more important for people with a disability, or those who are travelling and managing incontinence.
When I spotted the Changing Places Bathroom at Sydney Airport as soon as I stepped off the plane, even before duty free shopping and customs, I felt like doing a happy dance. Of course I had to take a minute to check it out and take some photos to share.
I particularly like the fact that there is a sign on the door explaining the purpose of the Changing Places bathroom. It reads, “This facility is intended to support people with disabilities who require the use of a hoist, changing bench and/or centrally located toilet.” One would hope that this clear explanation may eliminate misuse of the facility by those that don’t actually need it.
The bathroom facility includes a shower with shower bench, toilet with rails, height-adjustable change bed and hoist.
The bathroom was super clean and although not new, still had that fresh feeling of a new facility. Mind you, I hadn’t showered for 20 odd hours so perhaps I’m not a good judge of cleanliness!
Lowered self-service passport kiosks are offered at several points throughout the arrivals hall. They are clearly marked with an accessible symbol.
Once I cleared customs I noticed in the arrivals hall there is another Changing Places bathroom next to The Meeting Point. It’s also near the car hire company kiosks. Both Changing Places bathrooms (the one near the arrival gates and the one past customs are sign posted as per the photo below – note the pictured hoist and bench).
The second Changing Places bathroom was out of order when I was at the airport but I presume it is the same as the one pictured above. This bathroom is easily accessible by lift for anyone departing Australia but please note you’d need to use the facility prior to clearing immigration. You can see this Changing Places marked on this map.
Sydney International Airport – Sensory Map
Airports are noisy and chaotic so it can be helpful to research places where you can retreat from the over stimulation of the airport ahead of your arrival.
Sydney International Airport provides Sensory Maps for T1 Departures and T1 arrivals.
Sydney International Airport – assistance for visitors with a vision impairment
Sydney Airport was the first Australian airport to offer Aira, a navigation service to assist visitors with a vision impairment. Aira is a free service for passengers departing or arriving at Sydney’s airport, available via smartphone app. Please visit the Aira website to find out more.
Let’s hope accessibility continues to improve not only in Australia but at airports around the world.
As I travel I check out accessibility at airports and have previously shared the following
Los Angeles Tom Bradley Airport
Wheelchair access at Regional Airports without an air bridge
Brisbane Domestic Airport Changing Places facility
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