It’s easy for able-bodied people to disregard just how lucky they are for being able to get from point A to point B without the need for prior arrangements or assistance from others.
Whatever the task required is, whether someone needs to use public transportation to get to work or an appointment somewhere a bit farther out, pick up a few groceries from the supermarket nearby or just spending a day exploring a city’s tourist locations, you’d come to realize that most things are designed to accommodate able-bodied people before occasionally adjustments are made for those with a disability.
So far though, it’s worth celebrating the effort that more venues and businesses are taking to dedicate more resources and plan towards being more accessible for different people with disabilities. There’s still a lot of work however that can be done to ease the burden of disabled people in trying to take part in everyday activities.
Hearing some people give their own accounts of how limited accessibility has affected them is disheartening. There is so much difficulty in the lives of people with disabilities already that have to face, both physical and other, that you would think we would do everything as a society to make things simpler and more straightforward for them and their loved ones.
A 30-year old blogger and charity trustee, Sarah, shared her wake-up story on her disability to Metro.co.uk. She suffers from the hereditary Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and had to spend three days in the hospital getting multiple tests. When she was set to leave and catch the train home, there was no assistance available to help her board the train in the half-hour she arrived before its departure. She was told she would have to wait even longer for the next train and was ready to break into sobs, but thankful her boyfriend was present to stand up for her and secure a ramp so she could have access with her electric wheelchair.
In the interview, she explained that while it’s not a daily frustration as her local station in Wellingborough provides great access all the time, the situation getting back from London or to London is a completely different story. One that causes her a lot of grief as there’s never someone to meet her at a ramp on arrival and she has had to wait for up to 20 minutes before help arrived to assist with exiting the train.
According to Sarah, the poor treatment and lack of accessibility have naturally had a significant impact on her emotional state. Her experiences sometimes leave her feeling worthless and she’s often unwilling to travel with public transport because of the stress. And she’s not the only one with horrible accessibility stories. Meet Shona, a 19-year old with Marfan Syndrome who blogs about disabilities and lifestyle. Her disorder is also hereditary and affects her connective tissues so she uses a power chair for mobility. Shona tells the story of her recent experience with taking the bus, a bus driver refused to stop for her and made it clear he’d done that on purpose because he made eye contact so she’d know he’d seen her. She noticed there was a buggy in the seat allocation for wheelchair users but it would have been easy to ask the passenger with the buggy to move it but instead, he chose to leave her out there. The result was Shona, like many other disabled people, was left feeling like a second-class citizen because of the lack of effort to be wheelchair accessible, a common occurrence even in places where they promise accessibility.
Old and young people with disabilities alike seem to have these experiences that no one should have to go through in trying to use public facilities and get around freely. The reality of limited accessibility remains daunting and advocates are calling for more disability awareness training for drivers and staff in all forms of public transport, as well an increased understanding overall of the predicaments they face.
Image credit: torquemag.io