I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Know You Were More Important Than Me

Written by on March 29, 2013 in Career - No comments | Print this page


Handicapped SignSadly there are a lot of things that really annoy me and cause me upset in my life. In the 21st Century it is a shame to say that one of these things is the fact that as a wheelchair user I am often looked down on.

People appear to consider individuals like myself as less important and different just because of the disability. Yes, it is fair to say that really gets on my nerves but luckily there are things that businesses and people in general can do to change this way of thinking.

Transportation for the Masses

Currently I have been annoyed by the transportation system in the country. I know I am not alone here. Every day it seems my Facebook or Twitter feeds include at least one status complaining about trains being late.

We all get annoyed by these services when they don’t work as they should and why shouldn’t we? The tickets sure cost enough these days.  However, my recent annoyance is not about trains being late or rude bus drivers as my problems start before I have reached the platform.

My wheelchair is brilliant – it’s my racing car, but it does have its limitations. I won’t be fully satisfied until it is able to get me up stairs without me having to get a ramp! Sadly, at my local train station and many others that I have visited over the past few years they only have stairs; having not installed lifts for easy access.

Now you would think that a lift would be a much required item at any train station. After all there are mums and dads weighed down with shopping and pushchairs, families and individuals with multiple suitcases and people like me in wheelchairs, or even just those who aren’t so good on their legs. All those people use trains (or would like to) and yet with the absence of a simple lift, the act of getting onto a platform causes stress, embarrassment and even accidents.

After London hosted the Paralympics it was thought that disabled access in the UK would improve. It was our time as a country to do away with the stigma and fear that people seem to have against the disabled.

Yet we are now in 2013 and still there is a distinct problem with the facilities that are made available. In fact, not much has changed at all apart from a perhaps a few perceptions which is great. Our local train station is currently having some work carried out on the platform.

You would think that this would be the ideal time to install the much needed lift. Yet unfortunately, despite the extensive improvements the lift has been ignored. Network rail simply say the work carried out meets the current guidelines.

That may be so but it doesn’t help me and those others affected by the stairs. We use the services so it leaves me questioning why we are being ignored. It just makes me feel like I am not seen as an important person; perhaps my money isn’t good enough for Network Rail?

Improving Services for the Disabled

Now I have seen a few businesses make some subtle changes to their properties. A few local shops have improved the access so it is less of a struggle to get inside and part with my money. There are even shops installing wheelchair lifts between floors which is fantastic as these changes help me and others like me to get around and not feel isolated as we are out and about.

Yet, why bigger businesses are not paying attention to the needs of those with disabilities is beyond me. It’s like they have never even heard of the Equality Act.

Aki Hashimoto is a writer who believes that access audits should be carried out in all businesses and public service sectors such as the rail network. They are easily obtained from consultants and there is no excuse for them to ignore individual’s requests for improved access.

Image courtesy of Teerapun / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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