A thought for Wednesday.
- “…able to be reached,… or used by people who have a disability. Features such as non-slip floors and accessible entrances“
I was going to post this on facebook, following a visit to the optician which was long and tiring, preceded by a week plus on bedrest which was equally long and tiring, but didn’t think my friends would thank me for another vent! Why not have the test at home? Because I couldn’t access one.
My thanks to them, SO much for all the love. It means a huge amount to me. I know I let off steam, and friends probably groan, but I have to for my own sanity, and Pete’s. To let the frustration tumble out like an overpacked bookcase. It helps ALOT.
So I’m here just to raise the flag for accessibility, posting it here, and subjecting everyone else to it! Lol! You love me really. So here goes.
It was accessible to a point, ie. we could get through the door and a consultation room was available on the ground floor, but it could have been much better and didn’t take all needs into account. But I’m not here to shred an optician, the tests were thorough and no one can be aware of every need, but small changes can help.
When one books what is termed ‘step free’ access and the bookee quotes the reason as being a wheelchair user with a chronic illness. It comes with hope and some expectation of ease and clutter free access. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation. Ones expectation might include:
- Space for wheelchair users in waiting areas. Meaning, an allocated space. Not sitting in the middle of a corridor with people trying to avoid you, the trip hazard. Or mouthing at you ‘would you like to move to this end‘ causing a worse trip hazard.
- Adequate space in booking and pre-test areas. Again, space. Move chairs without making a fuss. Have all counters with some accessible height. It’s so off-putting being confronted on entrance by a counter suitable for standing height communication only.
- Accessible pre-test areas. As in, no chairs in the way, freely accessible to any wheelchair user. When the question of access needs is asked and it subsequently offered, please fulfill your side of the bargain and provide it. Don’t rely on the possibility that all wheelchair users can move out of their wheelchair into a seat. Many can’t, or in the interests of health management shouldn’t. Just assume that adequate provision needs to be made.
- Being able to close the door behind a wheelchair user once in a consultation room. Meaning, the door will freely close and open when the wheelchair is placed in expected positioning. With no shuffling or awkward crashing about required. Imagine asking an non-wheelchair user – “Just hold that door while I afix the hinges will you“.
Other subtleties include
- Understanding why a wheelchair user with an energy limiting condition, can’t make close consecutive appointments. Just accept that they said no, so no means no. Not today, or tomorrow and probably not next week. People bank energy for outings, which is then subsequently burned. We need time to recover.
- Accept they are unable to choose glasses immediately following an eye test.
- Or answer any more questions. They have used all cognition available on the appointment and time spent waiting.
- Have easily takeaway readable, large print, info available
I am what is termed an ambulatory wheelchair user, as opposed to non-ambulatory. I can walk, slowly, around my home, when not stuck in bed, but I need my wheelchair when I’m up to going out or have to. Such as to a hospital appointment or for example to have an eye test. The wheelchair facilitates me moving around (with help), to get from place to place. Without it I would be marooned at home, and have been. However, not all places are accessible to ambulatory and non-ambulatory wheelchair users. As already highlighted.
I am due a conversation about accessibility with our local Council in a couple of weeks. Delayed for pacing purposes to help my cognitive capacity cope. The contact there was a bit baffled and perhaps put out at first, but after dialogue, they got it. This dialogue was initiated following threatening undertones from the Developer’s PR Rep (re. my wildlife campaigning). Which I turned to my advantage. Take that PR Rep! Thanks Tyra.
Back to Accessibility
Our local council explained that they are trying to influence local businesses to adopt accessible practices. Along with progressing other measures involving volunteers in the district. Interested to learn more, I am still unclear if they have a dedicated accessibility team.
I have detail to share with the council and am interested to know how much input they seek from the disabled community.
Surely, accessibility has to improve in everyday life. They’re aren’t enough drop kerbs for starters. On a local online Forum (which I am involved with) on a recent survey we held, 50% of responders responded as managing a disability or long term chronic Illness. 50%! That will mean accessibility needs in multiple forms.
I honestly think everyone should try being a wheelchair user, just as a start. It obviously isn’t the only accessibility need. Many are not only physically related, but also and as well as cognitive, hearing, sight, noise, light etc related. Experiencing using a wheelchair might help folk see the red flags that pop up every time the opportunity arises to go out. And it generally is every time. And frequently those red flags block accessibility or certainly hinder it. I explained it to our council as an able bodied person being confronted by a locked door and it not being unlocked.
Some people are so in tune, they just get it. And oh my goodness does that help. Others are awkward or embarrassed. I was probably the latter a few decades ago.
I don’t apologise for my wheelchair/s anymore or feel awkard having them or using them. They help me have a life. And that’s all any of us are trying to do. Have a life.
So as well as speaking for wildlife, I am raising a voice for accessibility. I don’t particularly want to have to, but it can’t be ignored.
If Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who’s Platinum Jubilee we are currently marking in this country with copious tea and cake, could just see her way clear to being helped off her golf buggy and into a wheelchair, then wheeled around Chelsea Flower Show, I think that would help massively. Her Majesty would unknowingly free many people from stigma and send a message.
People with disabilities want access to as full a life as their capacity and numerous aids and helpers will allow. Please open the world for accessibility and help that happen.
So that’s my thoughts.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Have a blessed day⚘
PS. Don’t miss my post about wheelchairs coming soon! ♿️