Concerns about equal access for all might not affect you.
“The disabled”. The largest minority group of which any one of us can become a member of at any time.
It isn’t a club that many would wish to join.
There isn’t an eager queue.
Yet, once you are in, you are generally in for the long haul.
So, imagine for one moment that you are in the queue…
You can no longer stand up.
You can longer take even one solitary step. Your legs don’t support you. In fact, they cause you pain. Despite being unable to move them, they hurt. Sometimes people will try to move you but catch your toes on something. They don’t mean to but it doesn’t stop it from hurting. You felt the pain but you couldn’t move them out of the way.
Your arms are not strong and your fine motor skills are not as you would wish. You need help with everything, even getting out of bed.
You can no longer reach the sink to get yourself a drink. Oh yes, there is a team who will adapt things for you – eventually. You might only have to wait three years.
You can no longer get your wheelchair into the bathroom. Ah, there is a team who can look into that and come up with a plan to
completely ruin your home make those alterations. In the meantime, you could always use a commode in your lounge. You recall that three years I mentioned earlier? (Some alterations are done sooner but three years of using the toilet in the lounge was our experience) Some take longer!
What do you mean this isn’t acceptable? The commode is provided for you and it is easy to get a bit of ceiling tracking installed in the middle of your lounge to hoist you onto it.
Of course, you will need a little extra help now that you need help with everything. Don’t bank on it! You will be expected to rely on friends and family first. So instead of feeling like an equal, you are now dependent on those you love.
You might be lucky enough to get a wheelchair which meets your postural needs and which is light enough for you to move. Or you might be lucky enough to have good friends and family who can fundraise for it. I hope you are.
How would you be feeling?
I imagine that you are feeling beaten down and low. Do you want to go out?
You can’t go in a friend’s car because you need to travel in your wheelchair.
Or you could get the bus.
Unless there is a buggy on board in which case you might be told that you can’t get on.
Or a taxi.
If you can get a company with an accessible car, or one which doesn’t just deny that they have one because it takes longer to load your wheelchair and they probably don’t know how to use the lockdown straps anyway.
Every aspect of life is hard. Even once you get adaptations to your own home it is likely that life indoors is still difficult. Regular homes are not really built with the space required by wheelchair users in mind.
You want to make the best of every moment. You want to live as well as you can. You are determined that physical disabilities are not going to stand in the way of living as best you can.
Just where will you go? Lunch and drinks? Hmmm, not really a good idea as there will not be a bathroom facility which you can use.
Family attraction for a day out? Well, for an hour or two maybe, until you need the toilet.
So many places have invested in level access entrances, wider doorways, accessible pathways and are keen to promote that they are accessible. Yet, if you can’t use the toilet there, it doesn’t matter how wide the doorways are or how level the pathways are. You can’t “go” there.
The things you ignore today, might just be your world tomorrow.
Sorry for sounding so miserable, but I let my son down.
I was ignorant about so many issues till a few years ago. These things were not supposed to happen to us.
My son was going to be fine. Everything would be okay.
But it isn’t.
YOU have time on your side.
Help me to implement change to make life less hard, BEFORE your future depends on it.
When you go out, check out what is behind that toilet door with a wheelchair logo on it.
If it doesn’t have a ceiling hoist and changing table, ask the manager if they are aware that many people are excluded without them.
Suggest they take a look at http://www.ordinaryhopes.com and maybe they will.