• International Day of People with Disability: 11 ways the UK still doesn’t make space for disabled people

    Written by Vicky Kuhn

    As a disabled person, I am forever trying to find my place in a world that refuses to make a place for me.

    Though the disability rights movement is becoming stronger every day, pleading with the world to please make a space for adults and children with various physical, mental and physiological conditions, we are still largely forgotten, or worse pushed aside in the few areas of everyday life that have evolved to include us.

    On International Day of People with Disability I’ve chosen to speak out again and highlight some of the ways that the world still doesn’t make space for disabled people.

    1. The Tube.  Public transport is a subset in and of itself in the realms of disabled access, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the Tube.  Three quarters of stations are not wheelchair accessible.

    2. The bus. The ever generous TFL gives us other options, well one – the bus.  London buses are equipped with ramps and spaces for wheelchairs.  Though the journey time will usually quadruple that of a Tube journey, at least we have a way to get where we’re going, right?

    3. Wrong. More and more frequently wheelchair spaces on the bus are being taken by parents with large buggies, and though wheelchairs take priority for this space (we can’t fold down our wheelchairs) the driver will often be reluctant to ask the parents to move.

    4. Trains (though not all stations) are largely wheelchair accessible and fully equipped with ramps in each accessible carriage. Though the ramp takes approximately two minutes to fit, disabled passengers are ‘strongly advised’ to book ahead, and not just purchase a ticket like all other customers.

    5. Highstreet stores of all types often flagrantly disregard the fact that they should be wheelchair accessible by law.

    6. Fashion brands that myself and 1,000’s of other disabled people frequent refuse to represent us in their advertising and disregard us as part of their target market.

    7. Large concert venues and other such buildings that host major events are often only partially wheelchair accessible, if at all.

    8. Hotels rarely have full provisions for customers with disabilities. Even those who do fail to see disabled customers as people, and only fit out accessible rooms with single or twin beds.

    9. There’s a total lack of understanding of what ‘wheelchair accessible’ actually means.

    10. ‘Walking’ (or wheeling) is a sure fire way to get from A to B in wheelchair right?   But lack of dropped kerbs, uneven paving and even total absence of pavement can make navigating our way around pretty dicey.

    For me, that’s a day out with just a pinch of the things I need to consider.  Let’s hope for serious improvements and changes in attitude in the very near future.

    Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/03/international-day-of-people-with-disability-11-ways-the-uk-still-doesnt-make-space-for-disabled-people-5535836/#ixzz3tFuMzfiG

    Roisin Norris

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    • Steve Allen

      ASDA are very poor for disabled customers, only ONE wheelchair accessible checkout in every store, NO express checkouts, No lowered counters at customer services. It is as if they do not want disabled customer have a good experience. My wife is a wheelchair user and we find many issues with access.
      The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge have NO wheelchair access and stopped myself and wife going to a wedding and caused a family split.
      Debenhams are near impossible to negotiate a wheelchair around for most and impossible in quite a few areas.
      House of Frazer, Cardiff, Very arrogant manager who does not seem to understand the rights of disabled wheelchair users and claims they can’t set the store to accomodate them.
      I have many more examples and would like help to take matters further.

      • Simon_Wales

        Hi glad someone mentioned asda, the Bridgend store is shocking, just 2 wide accessible checkouts and often only 1 I open, you often get half a dozen plus wheelchai users, mobility carts users and parents with prams queueing to use these 2 tills while many other checkout operators sit serving no 1.

        Shop in the local Tesco, Sainsbury, Aldington or even the Spar, much friendlier.

        • Steve Allen

          There are too many shops in towns that you cannot access with a wheelchair. We live in Neath and are amazed that so many shops have steps to get in and don’t have any sort of ramps to help wheelchair users. Besides ASDA who do not think for disabled, there are many more retailers that need to be advised more.

    • It isn’t actually true that shops have to be wheelchair accessible “by law”. They have to make “reasonable adjustments” – and what is reasonable depends on a variety of considerations, including the resources available to the shop, the configuration of the building etc. While there are ever more innovative ways to make older buildings accessible, it is simply not possible for some shops to be wheelchair accessible (although most could do more, of course, eg have a portable ramp). I’m a wheelchair user myself, so I get very frustrated, but we don’t do ourselves any favours by misrepresenting the law!

      PS Great article 🙂

      • Totally June. I think because the laws are so wishy washy people hide behind it when they could quite easily make buildings accessible.

    • Sue Hurrell

      You’ve missed the very important fact that many of the UK’s schools are still completely inaccessible to wheelchair users. This is due to the fact that (see Schedule 10 of the Equality Act) school buildings have been exempt from the Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments for upwards of 15 years now. Instead they are bound by planning duties that have largely been ignored. If we can’t make our schools accessible this perhaps explains why so many generations of youngsters grow up never coming into contact with another child who uses a wheelchair. I’m researching this at the moment – currently analysing 170 FOI responses from England and Wales.

      • I hear where you’re coming from on this issue. I struggled to access my children’s schools as a parent so I can’t imagine trying to get an education. When I went to college they had some provisions but it was far from perfect.

        • Sue Hurrell

          Really great article by the way! Thank you

    • Karen Hillyer

      well once again – an article about lack of facilities for disabled people ONLY discusses difficulties for those using wheelchairs – wheel chairs users are NOT the only people with disabilities…….try exiting a car park with a barrier system in place if your right arm is paralysed and you need to insert a ticket into the machine to exit the car park? you being a wheelchair user wouldn’t present you with a problem then would it? what about wash hand basins in public toilets which require you to hold the top of the tap down in order to have water to wash your hands – how do you do that with a paralysed arm? or no arms? …………………….. never thought about it? try holding shopping bags in your ONLY usable arm and pulling open a toilet door? or a shop door? or holding on whilst a bus/tube/train is moving and trying to hold bags as well if you only have one usable arm -being in a wheelchair is NOT the only disability that is poorly catered for in the UK

      • Simon_Wales

        Lots of brilliant points made, we also forget the visually and hearing impaired. We sadly have few buses with audio visual display which discriminates against many

    • Irene Turner

      This article makes good points! Venues, hotels, transport – they all pay lip service to providing for the disabled but they never really quite get it right. Venues need to supply disabled seating at all levels of ticket purchase, not just some spaces halfway back, we’ve had hotels where the shower seat is about 6 feet away from where the shower head is, taxis where the driver doesn’t strap the wheelchair in, buses that drive right by rather than have to lower the ramp! It shouldn’t be this way nowadays!