SPAR's 'WheelchairWednesday' is held each year in August and 2019 marks the initiative's eighth instance. The Association for Persons with Disabilities Nelson Mandela Bay (APD), which organises the initiative, is targeting a total of 1 000 wheelchairs to have been donated to those in need. 

The project raises awareness for the need to provide easy access for those in wheelchairs among businesses. ACSA had taken part in the campaign in the past, with airfield services manager Selvin Meyer and his colleague Bulelwa Blokowere as the participants. 

Meyer says that, during the campaign, he realised that there was no access for people living with disabilities to the first floor in the fire station, where the emergency control centre (ECC) staff and their offices were situated.

"This meant that the emergency control centre would have difficulty offering any services to a person living with a disability," Meyer says. "That was one of the reasons why we have now moved the ECC to the roof of the terminal building, which has access through lifts. Wheelchair ramps have been created where necessary."

Meyer says that the company looked at various aspects to improve facilities and enable easy access for those confined to wheelchairs. "For instance, we created further parking bays for people living with disabilities in the shaded parking area, as close to the terminal as we could," Meyer says. "This allows those who are assisting them more time to help them out of the car and get them safely into the airport terminal.”

Additionally, the company has created more ablution facilities with clearly marked signs for wheelchair users. "We have upgraded these facilities in the arrivals and departures terminals, while we have also created ramps in all sections of the airport to ensure easier access for those with mobility problems," says Meyer.

ACSA has also strived to consider employees or visitors to its office blocks, in terms of accessibility. A wheelchair stair-lift has been installed at the bottom of the office's stairs. The company's collaboration with APD has resulted in the purchase and installation of evacuation chairs at all the lifts and staircases.

"Moving forward, we will endeavour to incorporate the physically disabled requirements and needs into all future infrastructure and facility projects," Meyer concludes.

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