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Make a change

Back when I was able to hobble about with a walking stick, my son’s (primary) school banned me from using an electric bike on grounds of health and safety. I’d explained its only purpose is as a mobility aid and saying I’d planned to put a public tweet out to some lawyer friends for advice on Disability Discrimination. I’d even offered to sit on it, leaning towards my ‘good leg’, and have the electrics switched off. Only after all this was it escalated it passed the Headmistress. The council allowed it, but only if the electrics were off.

A few years on, and I can’t get away with just the walking stick, I’m now in a wheelchair if I want to go anywhere, but I need someone with me because my shoulder has very regularly dislocated since I was 16 and I suffer from asthma. Both before and after getting the chair I approached the Head saying I’d be happy to talk to, and answer questions from the kids about my disabilities (right ear hears noises but not clear sound – think about being 12 foot under water and you’ll get a good idea, and my knee which I cannot bear any weight following an RTC). Every year I offer the Head the chance to raise Disability Awareness in the school. I’m still waiting.

The local bus company have refuse me access when passengers refuse to fold pushchairs. Mothers and Grandmothers have said I “should budge up” in an already confined dedicated wheelchair space so they don’t have to fold a pushchair. When you face all the other passengers you’re immediately made uncomfortable, but people seem to have the right to question you about everything. I don’t mind most of the questions, it’s good that people are curious. Some questions, though are triggers for my wife and on one occasion she told the man he doesn’t have an automatic right to those answers.

Cars are parked blocking the path, then others blast their horns at you if you go on the road to get passed. (sub-urban housing estate)

I read about disabled people being mugged as they’re “an easy target”, about people being trapped on planes while needing the toilet, being trapped on a train station overnight because they weren’t informed the lifts were out of order before alighting from the last train.
To me, the problem is an almost complete lack of empathy and an obscene level of apathy.

Councils, companies and government ministers should be made to use the services they provide in wheelchairs, while blindfolded or with ear plugs. Mystery shoppers should be employed on a regular basis to test anything and everything that’s been rolled out or updated [Something I’m more than happy to do]. We should have Disability Awareness everywhere, starting with schools. Steps are being made, progress is happening, but it’s far too slow and largely happens when someone has first hand experience of a friend or family member with a disability or an organisation has their hand forced. It shouldn’t be like this. Countries should compete for the best, and by this I mean lowest, levels of disability discrimination. Make it a contest. We need a DARPA type prize, a Nobel type prize for the best progress and/or achievements.

Let’s make a change.