Stand-up comedy is one thing. There have been very few comedians performing with a microphone from a wheelchair so far.
But standing-up as a default setup for society is quite another matter, and needs to be stopped before it gets completely out of hand, to mix metaphors.
Stand and Deliver
All standers expect everybody else to do the same.
From the inevitable waiting in lines to church services, the fit and able dictate to everybody in a one-size fits all sort of way, a way that I suppose we ought to be used to, even if we hate it.
At a concert or live performance a new habit is taking hold. Many people now think it's acceptable to stand up to applaud performers as it comes to an end, never mind who is sitting behind and is unable to stand.
These are often big people who have blocked the view of those behind them throughout, but they can't help that. Where these standers are culpable, is that they feel so good as to be showing their support, satisfaction in the performance in a big public gesture of a way. "Look at me, I'm taking the lead and am first on my feet to applaud!".
They could do that just as well from a sedentary position, although of course fewer people would notice them doing it. It's time the term 'standing ovation' was consigned to history.
I Can Walk Some, But Not Stand
I'm not in a wheelchair. I do, however, have a mobility and balance problem with my deformed feet caused by the degenerative Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome. I can walk short distances with a stick. I can stand for relatively brief periods.
I need to sit down periodically if I'm out and about. There are very few benches in shopping malls or on most high streets. Benches are seen as decorative street furniture rather than vital pieces of equipment strategically placed to help the less mobile and the elderly generally.
Street planners have also deemed that the needs of the partially sighted and fully blind are served by small studs in slope-down slabs next to road crossings. That's great that the needs of those people with limited or no sight are being considered.
However ... those who cannot walk safely on any uneven surface are presented with a real hazard as we approach road junctions. Even standing still on those concrete studs waiting to cross the road is a menace for me as my ankles could twist at any moment, which would probably propel me into the passing traffic.
It's the law of unintended consequences at play. Now it needs looking at again. If the Paralympics in London 2012 showed anything, it was that the disabled (or differently-abled, I prefer) can achieve inspirational things. And the media and the big shots all keep on about how we need to get and keep fit and not to succumb to inertia in our lives.
There is much talk of Olympic/Paralympic legacies. Well, one legacy is glaringly obvious. Revisit what we do for the less mobile and make sure we help them up. Metaphorically, we sitters need to stand up for better facilities and ways of seeing from others.
THREE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS:
- In theatres and cinemas, they should actively encourage large people to sit behind smaller people and they should ban standing up to applaud.
- Town planners should be compelled to realize how an improvement for one sector impacts on another.
- Supports, rails, and a reasonable supply of seats should be mandatory in all public places.