Happy Monday everyone!
It’s been another few days of ups and downs here, our little family struggles with the raising summer temperatures. Entering our flat feels like opening an oven door (minus the glasses misting up bit!) no matter what we do, I struggle to maintain autonomic functions and littlest man had his 5th nosebleed of the day a few hours ago. We had to have our windows closed all of Saturday night due to someone a few doors down the road having a large, extremely loud 35th birthday garden party. I finally got to sleep around 4:30am with the music still loud enough to be heard through double glazed windows and headphones. It’s been a bit of a crappy end to a bit of a crappy week if I’m honest.
We decided today we’d go out for some fresh air and new scenery, popping to Marks & Spencer in the next town along, for a weekly food shop. We’ve been stuck to a Sainsbury’s and a Tesco local during the pandemic. Now things are slowly starting to open up and masks have become mandatory in all indoor enclosed spaces, we felt confident enough to travel a little further afield.
As I approached the ramp entrance from the disabled parking space, I had forgotten how steep it was. It’s not an extreme ramp by any means but it is listed as steep on the AccessAble website. This is something I’ve come across quite often in my 5+ years as a full-time wheelchair user. Places often claim to be accessible… but are they really? I have visited shops, venues, and holiday homes which have all claimed to be wheelchair accessible, yet, have all had something like an extremely steep ramp, off-track pathways, ‘small curbs’ etc. which are quietly brushed under the carpet in the hopes no one will challenge them.
I remember having a chat with a business owner of Eastbourne pier last year who was very vocal about not having wheelchair access to her shop when she saw me having to wait outside while my husband and son looked for souvenirs. She said she had no choice in the matter, as people kept on tripping up over the ramp when it was there, that it was too much of a nuisance but she was sorry I couldn’t get in. The shop literally next door to her, same layout, had a fully functional and safe ramp. No issues with people tripping up and complying with all legal and safety aspects for every user of the pier.
Our holiday bungalow rental two years ago was listed as wheelchair accessible and highlighted this point many times in it’s listing, only upon arrival, we found both the entrances to the bungalow had a large step up to get inside. We managed, but it was difficult. It’s always so difficult. There is even one local business near to me which champion themselves, again quite loudly on social media, for offering a disabled access toilet within their premises… but they don’t actually have wheelchair access to get in or out of the shop!
So while I’m so much more able to venture to new places where I am unsure of full access this year due to my wonderful Lith-Tech Smart Chair 1XL, I’m still affected by this in many ways. I feel angry for those who don’t have the comfort of a really light, fold-able wheelchair which can take pretty steep slopes and mid-height kerbs safely. I couldn’t do that this time last year. It’s hard enough researching into the accessibility of new places to go, let alone turning up to find out vital pieces of information have been left out.
Have you ever been out and got stuck somewhere because of accessibility? Do you have any fab accessible places you’d like to share? Let me know below!