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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.38 n.1 Pretoria  2008




"We are also travellers": An action story about disabled women mobilising for an accessible public transport system in Khayelitsha and Nyanga, Cape Metropole, South Africa



Theresa Lorenzo

(PhD); Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation and Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town





The paper reports on the experiences of disabled women in Khayelitsha and Nyanga in Cape Town in mobilising for an accessible public transport system so that they had equal opportunities to participation in social and economic development. The paper highlights various policies linked to addressing/achieving equal rights and access for disabled people across sectors, with a specific focus on the centrality of accessible public transport to development. The specific aim of this action story was to explore the experiences of disabled women in mobilising for change regarding an accessible public transport system as a strategy for social inclusion.
A qualitative research approach using participatory action research (PAR) was chosen as the research design to allow for emergent process of collaboration and dialogue. Purposive sampling and snowballing were used to select the sample of disabled women living in Khayelitsha and Nyanga in Cape Town. Data was generated through pioneering narrative action reflection (NAR) workshops, as an innovative method to generate data of disability experiences collectively rather than on a one-to-one basis. The method enables storytelling and action learning by marginalised groups in impoverished contexts to mobilise collectively for equal opportunities and social inclusion. The theme "We are also travellers" emerged with two sub-themes that described the barriers and strategies for inclusion, namely "Waiting for transport" and "We have to stand up". The lessons learnt and outcomes included the power of action learning as a strategy for mobilising for social change, and the centrality of an accessible public transport system for the participation of disabled women in development opportunities. NAR workshops were also found to be a culturally sensitive method for emphasising the political and social aspects of knowledge production.

Key words: accessibility, public transport, disability, women, community-based rehabilitation, social inclusion, narrative action reflection workshops, participatory action research



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