Hi everyone! I’m going to talk about my time and experiences as a wheelchair user and the unfortunate difficulties that sometimes came with that.I’d like to make it very clear that I was only a FULL TIME wheelchair user for 1.5 years when I was 8 years old and my father was my carer so luckily I would always have him to push me in my wheelchair.
That being said, nowadays I still do sometimes use my wheelchair if my prosthesis is causing me unbearable pain – but I still prefer to have somebody pushing me as I don’t feel confident enough to get around just by pushing myself.
Here are some valuable statistics and the websites that I am quoting them from:
2.2 million people in the United States depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility.
There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, roughly 2 per cent of UK population.
One in five Americans—about 53 million people—has a disability of some kind. 33 million Americans have a disability that makes it difficult for them to carry out …
We can all agree that this is a HUGE percent of the population so we have to ask, why are so many places still inaccessible?
Why are some wheelchair users still having to face struggles that could be easily avoided if accessibility was at the top of our local authorities priorities?
As I’ve said, I was a full time wheelchair user for 1.5 years after an amputation and knee fusion at 8 years old.. my father was the one that pushed me in my wheelchair.
I have to admit that for me life as a wheelchair user was not easy back then – and it still comes with it’s struggles even now!
Me and my Dad faced quite a few problems in our everyday life being out and about that I’m sure a lot of wheelchair users can still relate to.
It was very difficult to enter shopping centers that didn’t have automatic doors or a disabled entrance, as it was impossible for my Dad to go in front of my chair and open the door and then push me through!
We had to rely on kind and helpful members of the public so much throughout my time in a wheelchair. In fact, at some points we even avoided some shops altogether as we knew that the struggle to get me in there would be too complicated.
I distinctly remember the simplest of tasks becoming difficult, reaching for items on the top and higher shelves for example was so hard for me to do alone and I thank my lucky stars that my Dad was there to assist me!
As I recall these memories I have to wonder if I didn’t have my dad to push me in my wheelchair and I had to enter a building without automatic doors or a disabled entrance, what would I do?
I’d find it such a hassle to continuously have to ask a member of the public to hold the door for me, I know firsthand that having to hold the door for myself is nearly impossible.
A lot of my social media following are wheelchair users, and have publicly spoken about some of the problems that they STILL have to face daily because of lack of accessibility.. these include:
Missing out on family/friends events because the venue hired is not accessible
Not being able to attend a concert/gig as the venue is not accessible
Struggling to open doors and navigate through narrow shopping stalls
Taxi/public transport not being accessible
Curbs preventing them from getting onto the sidewalk (no dropped curb)
These are just five of the many problems wheelchair users may have to face daily because of the lack of compassion from our local authorities.
In my area (Birmingham,UK) there is only ONE wheelchair space on our buses – and when I am using my wheelchair It’s always a worry I may have to wait for the next bus or even the one after that as there isn’t enough room for me because the ONE space may already be taken.
It seems common for local authorities to repeatedly ignore disabled peoples needs.
Personally In my home I have a walk in shower that has a seat – so my bathroom is called a washroom.
I have spoken to Occupational Therapists who have told me themselves that our local council in Birmingham SHOULD be building accessible houses with washrooms built into them, however they’d rather ‘save money’ and just put a simple bathtub in.
The problem is.. they are NOT saving money in the long run! Someone with a disability that is in desperate need for a washroom has to have their house adapted therefore scrapping the regular bathtub and THEN spending thousands of pounds converting it into a washroom.
I have a quote here from Mike Adams OBE:
“75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a shop due to poor customer service or access issues”
75% is a huge number.. we have to change this, and we have to change it now!
If we all had a magic wand of course things would be sorted instantly, and the world would be equal and diverse for all; however as we know firsthand unfortunately that’s not the case.
I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves the same question – how do we change this?
If you are a venue looking to make your building more accessible for all, here is fantastic article that includes many tips! It’s so refreshing to see other people writing about the same thing and having the exact same end goal in mind.. to make the world a better place for everyone!
Here is the article: https://www.euansguide.com/news/top-10-ways-to-make-your-venue-more-accessible/
Top 10 ways to make your venue more accessible 12/08/2015 facebook twitter google plus Email. Taking steps to make your venue more accessible is beneficial to …
If you are someone wanting to report an inaccessible building or an obstruction near you I suggest you contact your local council. You can do this simply by using google – for example my local council is Birmingham City Council and they are who I would contact in this situation.
Sadly, It’s not unheard of for local authorities to ignore complaints and if this happens to you I think it’s really important you contact your local MP (Member of parliament) or MOC (Member of congress) depending on where you are.
In my experience contacting my local MP really sped things along when I had a complaint about disability rights that was not being resolved! The day after I got my MP involved – I had an email back from the company that I was having problems with.
Please don’t forget to SPEAK OUT! We need to stick together and speak out against any discrimination that we as disabled people may face. Social media can be a brilliant tool for catching companies and the medias attention!
I’d love to hear your response to this article so please feel free to contact me and share your stories!