This is a public service announcement

As the title and address of this blog, I was indeed a twenty-something journalism student, and failed because I dropped out. There are reasons behind this that I won’t go into but a lot of it had to do with the university course being complete shambles.

I still think I have something, though. At the very least, it’s the skill to fill a blank space with words.

This space, right now, is dedicated to wheelchair access. After all, not many other places seem to want to give it or put much thought behind what “wheelchair access” or “disabled access” means.

At the very least, it means access or facilities designed to help those with a wheelchair or physical disability or impairment to become equal with their peers and fellows. Why is this so hard to understand?

Disabled toilets should probably have hand towels that people from wheelchairs can reach instead of being 3 feet above the sink, as well as bins that aren’t foot-pedal operated. In an accessible toilet, I know for a fact that the target users are very unlikely to be able to use it. Exceptions to the rules and all that but, think about it, please? There’s also issues with taps that some people can’t grip or push down on. Lever handles would be ideal for the majority, motion sensored ones even more so.

Buses? Don’t even get me started on buses. I don’t think any proper planning went onto wheelchair access on a bus. The driver’s hardly know there’s a fold out ramp, or how to use it. There’s a lot of drivers who refuse to get out of their cab to see to it, or even acknowledge it and will drive away from the curb so that the wheelchair can’t even try and argue.

When the driver does bother, it’s as almost as if it’s the person in the wheelchair’s fault that the bus is a few seconds, or maybe even minutes, held up. It’s not. It’s the bus company’s and sometimes even the driver’s, but it is never the passenger’s. Staring at a user with contempt because they are struggling to fit into the sorry excuse for a wheelchair space before the bus can leave the stop is not helpful. It’s rude, it’s ignorant and it’s misdirected.

And Banks! Listen up HSBC in Southport, Lord Street. You have steps that imitate the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and no wheelchair access. You don’t even have the cop out that other buildings supply in the form of a doorbell, or if you do, a person in a wheelchair has no way of getting to it. Sort yourselves out, get a ramp, automatic doors and accessible ATMs because right now, an independent person in a wheelchair (And yes, there are a few. They’d probably be more if everywhere was as accessible as they make themselves out to be) has no hope of getting in to that bank, and seeing as HSBC debit cards have the horrible tendency to not work in other ATMs, you’re really intruding on a wheelchair users day. If they have no access to ATMs, they have no access to money.

Last but not least, i’d like every where with a ramp to employ a person in a wheelchair and get them to asses it. A ramp doesn’t automatically mean a person in a wheelchair can access the premises or the facilities. There are many, many train stations who have ramps that go underground as an alternative to the steps to get to the otherside of the tracks. They are so steep, they are dangerous, even with someone in control of the wheelchair from behind. It helps fuel the attitude that every person with a physical disability, whether they have a wheelchair or not, should always have a carer or assistant with them. They have the right not to if this is the only thing that keeps them from independent.

It is disgusting. I’m looking at you, local councils. Fix it, deal with it, get people who actually need to use these facilities, more than one to represent a variety of conditions, and do as they say.
Someone who is able bodied in a stock wheelchair is not an option. They have full range of movement and good amount of power in their arms. They have a full range of vision and no body parts sensitive to jolts. They will not be able to assess fully what is or isn’t safe or good use to a disabled person.

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