Why are disabled people being discriminated against in life?

People playing wheelchair basketball at the Aspire leisure centre, Stanmore, London the teams are London Titans vs Wirldwind WBB

While this post is not sport-related it is related to disabled people not having the correct access to Shops, buildings and transport. I wrote about it on my FND blog as I now use a walking stick to aid me in walking, however as the post was being written, I was thinking maybe one day I am going to need a wheelchair to help me get around as walking is slow, painful and exhausting. So to conserve my energy while photographing a sport I may use a wheelchair to get me to and from the venue, as the two events I have shown up for so far, have been very exhausting as FND does that to you. I worked it out that the travel was the hardest part of the whole day. That means I need accessible busses, transport (train) and building access

I have noticed a lot recently that I am being treated as a 2nd class citizen because I use a walking stick. Why? when in a crowd of people say in a food shop, am I the one having to give way to perfectly able people 90% of the time. People just barge past you and I know some have seen my walking stick, yet they almost try to push me out of the way as they barge past me in their eager speed to get to the product they want.

On pavements it’s the same, people see me walking down say with a shopping bag and stick and still it is me that has to stop to get out of their way. I am quite confused about this, why do they think it’s not polite to give way every once in a while?.

The big problem I have at present is Bikes of all kinds, be it peddle or electric they all think they are allowed to cycle on the pavement and when I don’t get out of the way, they glare at me as if I am in the wrong. No, you are for riding on the pavement and not on the road unless it’s a shared path area. Then the bikes still think they have priority, when in fact the UK law states that us pedestrians have priority over cyclists.

As cyclists are almost silent as they come up behind you and then expect you to jump out of the way when you had your back to them, I don’t know how that works and on a pavement, you get horrible glares from these so-called idiots who think the pavement is their highway. Well, it’s not.

Now getting into buildings is one of my nemeses is stairs of any length. I have not gone into that building because of this and it happens more often than you think. When I was fully able, I did not see the problem as I climbed the stairs. Now I have to look for the lift, escalator or ramp area.

I travelled by train the other day and for whatever reason, all the lifts were out of service for 3 days on ALL Platforms around 16, I did not know that until I stepped off the train via an announcement. I looked for staff to help me, but I could not find any, so the stairs were the only option for me. Now what would happen if I was in a wheelchair I would be stranded on that platform if anyone was around to actually help me off the train due to the gap or height difference.

I slowly walked down the stairs to the lower level with the road, yes it was painful and awkward to do this, but it was my only way to get to the underground, where yet many more stairs to negotiate to get the train I needed.

I see many things in newspapers and on Twitter that tell the same story over and over again that building, transports and everything else stops us from enjoying our lives as we want to and not as an able body put in a design as an afterthought, saying OH that was an oversight, but here is a stupid ramp, that you may or may not be able to use. Are we really an afterthought in planning a building, transport or other facility design? I am sad to say yes we are an afterthought when it should have enough disabled toilets in any designated area not just the token 1 at a station.

Even No 10 is not wheelchair accessible from the road. They did not have a ramp even to allow access near to the door to hand in a petition for better access.

Talking of which Kingston Upon Thames Station I am going to name you that after a certain time when you close up, you shut off the lift on the platform from Waterloo, May I ask why? as I want a night out with friends and come home on the last train as every normal person does. However, as a wheelchair user or somebody like me with mobility problems would be stranded on that platform as there is no one around to help me get out of the station.

I went to the opticians on New Year’s eve to pick up my glasses, I specifically booked a downstairs appointment as their stairs were a little longer than I have at home, and there was no lift, but I had a downstairs apt. So OK I told them my name and was told that I had to go upstairs for the appointment. I said I cannot do stairs and I have booked a downstairs appointment. Luckily a senior manager overheard the way the employee told me to do this as if to say well go away the if you cannot do stairs. I found it insulting, to say the least. It was the same with them wanting me to do a glaucoma test and again I had to climb the stairs, I said I cannot as it would take me ages and be very painful. Then they suggested I go to another suburb to their 2nd branch and get the test done there and they can ring the results back to this office. So I would have to travel 45 minutes each way by bus as it takes the long way round to the other town and there are no direct busses. Then wait probably 30-plus minutes to get a 1-minute test. So that was his solution over 2 hrs of my time for a 1-minute test at my expense of time and effort. This company need to get things sorted out, as if you go in on a wheelchair, well that test will never be done. They need a portable unit for the occasions they do tests downstairs. So I bet you don’t see many disabled people in this shop as they cannot provide the correct service to disabled people which for a large chain around the world, is just bad practice. I have also been to another branch near me and there were 2-3 steps to the testing area, I did not see a ramp. So this place is also losing business to disabled people.

You might be seeing a pattern here that as I am discriminated against in all kinds of areas, we disabled people would like a life of some sort and not sit at home watching TV and vegetating as a lot of people think we should. I have lost the full use of my legs, but my brain still works, and so does my mouth, unfortunately, I do shout at people for being inconsiderate of me and my fellow disabled people during normal life. They looked shocked did they do something wrong, Well yes you did.

I did not ask for this illness FND, it just happened mainly due to the stress in my life, when I collapsed until at Waterloo station at 8.09 just before that I went down some stairs to the toilets and back up again before I sat down to have a snack. So perfectly fine until 8.09 then my life changed forever.

Just now thinking of access to small businesses like the corner shop, the ones that are around me that I go into occasionally, are cramped beyond belief then they add extra stock to the floor in the aisles of products they stock. Surely these shops are too small and must breach some fire regulations. When I was able, I did not like them as they were claustrophobic to me. Now using a stick it is even getting harder to navigate these small spaces. While you receive a service most times with a smile and maybe a chat. I could not even get a wheelchair into most of these shops, not for the space available within the shop, but the access service to the doors as they are usually manual and heavy doors. There is always a lip or a small step you have to negotiate up to get in and out of the shop. The one next door to my chemist has a step of around 4 inches, I can walk in there, but negotiating the isles I have to walk sideways down them and when your legs don’t work fully that is difficult. Mind you 95% of the small shops I have to go in sideways as I have a stick and walk like a crab. This cannot be right, can it?

I was hoping to find a stock image that depicted disabled a disabled person having difficulty getting into a shop or doorway, well I failed all I found were happy smiling people in wheelchairs in wide unpopulated supermarkets or in parks with hardly anyone around. Not really representative of what happens to us disabled people on a daily basis

So here is the challenge for all of you within the M25, I want to photograph people trying to get into inaccessible spaces eg Shops, Buildings, transport in fact anything, as people need to see these images.

So I will come to you at the local shop, building or transport link, do a quick photo and put them online for everyone to use free of charge as we need decisions makers at the local and national levels to start taking us seriously, we would like to spend time with our friends and families out and about enjoy everything that life has to throw at us.

Just like all you abled body people remember we are 25% of the population. So inaccessibility is losing the businesses a lot of money, as we get fed up with being a 2nd class citizens and all we ask is for the right of access to a building whatever it is.

Email me michael@thedisabilitysportsnetwork.com or tweet @DisSportNet.

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