Wheelchair Users Back in the Arena!
At the end of last year it was brought to the attention of QASA and Rolling Inspiration that wheelchair ticket prices for the U2 360 ÌŠ Jo'burg concert were extremely high. In a communication to Attie van Wyk, of Big Concerts, QASA's Ari Seirlis called for understanding - recalling the special dispensations at the recent FIFA World Cup.
"... people of all income groups and people with disabilities were able to attend the event due to FIFA's strategic pricing structures at Soccer City. Event organisers recognise that people in wheelchairs often require a care giver or companion - requiring them to purchase two tickets for events."
"... as there is no two-for-one deal in place, wheelchair users shall be forced to pay a minimum price of R1712 if they require the assistance of a caregiver or companion. That is more than TEN times the minimum ticket price offered to able-bodied concert-goers and almost double the monthly South African disability grant."
Big Concerts responded favourably, arranging a platform on the field with a reasonably priced two-for-one deal and offering people who had already purchased expensive tickets the opportunity to trade them for the platform and receive a refund.
Attie van Wyk further agreed that concert venues should provide seating for wheelchair fans at all levels and, to this end, Big Concerts shall be engaging with venue operators of future concerts: "We are committed to understanding and meeting the needs of disabled concert fans." Let's just hope that the debacle depicted in Alan Downey's cartoon does not happen at the U2 concert!
More good new is the change to parking laws. Interpretation of the disabled parking law meant that able-bodied drivers transporting people with disabilities had to pull into the demarcated space, unload their passenger/s and then go and park elsewhere. That sounds fine, until you think about children in wheelchairs. Do you just leave them in the middle of the parking lot to get reversed over by a 4 X 4 that can't see them? The new law is not perfect but it is better than the old one: "No person other than a disabled person or a driver of a motor vehicle conveying disabled persons, which motor vehicle was issued with a sticker for conveying disabled persons shall park on a parking bay reserved for disabled persons."
QASA never sleep in their fight to see justice prevail. Last year they approached the Constitutional Court with regard to amendments to the Road Accident Fund that capped loss of income claims, removed the right to make personal claims against negligent drivers and limited healthcare claims to Uniform Patient Fee Schedule rates. The changes were made within days of a massive claim against the Fund and were intended to improve the Fund's cash flow.
The Constitution Court judges voted unanimously in favour of the Fund with regard to the loss of income claims (limited to R180,000) and claims against negligent drivers. They did however find that the imposing of Uniform Patient Fee Schedule rates was "inadequate and unsuited for paying compensation for medical treatment of road accident victims in the private health care sector" and, in any case, would only result in savings to the Fund of 6%. The ruling was applied to all cases going back to August 2008.