Happy Monday, people! Or should that be grumpy Monday considering the tone of this post?!
Welcome back to part two of Super Annoying Things Wheelchair Users Have To Deal With. Without wasting time, lets get straight to number 6…
6. Disabled Parking
I’m extremely grateful for disabled parking and the Blue Badge scheme. The two points of annoyance though come from the many non-Blue Badge holders who abuse the spaces and the many abusers of genuine disabled people using the spaces. I can pretty much guarantee if you go to a large supermarket car park and observe for a bit, you’ll see some disabled spaces closest to the store being used by people with no Blue Badge. Often they are ‘just nipping in’ for a quick sandwich, a trip to the toilet or the nearby cash machine. That quick use of the disabled space could, and often does, mean that a genuinely disabled person cannot use the space made for them. As a non-Blue Badge holder, one should never need to use a Blue Badge holder space. You may also see people complaining about someone ‘not looking disabled’ and using a disabled space. People tend to forget that Blue Badges are issued for a huge variety of disabilities, including many hidden disabilities. Things such as Autism, dementia, mental illness, gastric or other internal disabling conditions can all be quite hidden on the surface, yet, the person is still fully entitled to use that badge and that space, regardless of if they ‘look disabled’ or not. If you see a person with a Blue Badge that doesn’t look disabled, please think before you judge or accuse. The world would be a much nicer place.
7. Disabled Toilets
Similar to disabled parking spaces, there is always an air of potential aggression waiting to happen surrounding disabled toilets. There is no badge for proof here which makes the situation a little more volatile, along with the unarguable fact that some people do use larger disabled toilets for illegal activities. However I still stand by my decision of trying not to judge anyone I see walk out of a disabled toilet, as I just don’t know what could be going on for them. My main issues with disabled toilets however is the upkeep of them (which I suppose is the same in most public toilets) and the difficulties moving around within them. I mean sure, they look big but chances are you’ll still have to do a 100 point turn to exit the place safely without crashing into stuff or damaging the arms/rims of your own ‘chair, even if it has an awesome 360 turn point like my Smart-Chair 1XL has. You’ll probably drag out a ton of used toilet paper on your wheels and have to buy some anti-bac hand wash, as the soap dispenser you could barely reach due to the badly placed sink sticking into your wheelchair was empty anyway. That’s if it’s unlocked and able to be used in the first place! It’s a mini goal of mine in life to find a nice, accessible disabled toilet. I wonder if it will ever happen?
Lifts. One of the most annoying things endured in my life as a disabled person. I live in a high rise flat where the only access for me to my house is with a lift. This lift breaks down regularly which causes me to become either a prisoner in my own home, trapped downstairs in the lobby for an indefinite amount of time or even trapped inside. It’s currently broken down as I type, the day before my son’s birthday and a big food shop delivery is due. Such lovely timing! It’s really hard to live with day to day. When our lift works, it can become out of sync and have a lip or step to navigate. This is much easier with my Lith-Tech wheelchair but not everyone has the luxury of owning something that can handle that or having a carer to help with situations like that. Lifts can be disgustingly smelly and claustrophobic. The doorways can be extremely difficult to fit through if they’re made for one body width, as many of the older ones are. They can close on us when we’re trying to enter or exit, causing damage to our ‘chairs and/or upper arms. If you’re trying to get in with other people, someone’s feet will inevitably get run over. The simple fact of saying somewhere has a lift so it can be classed as accessible is not good enough and it often leaves many of us wheelchair users in difficult and unpleasant situations.
9. A Small Step
As I mentioned earlier, my wheelchair is a beast and can handle a lot in the way of kerb dropping and lip conquering. What is super annoying though, is planning a trip and getting all the way to somewhere new, somewhere stated as accessible, to be met with ‘Oh yes, it’s just a small step in’. There’s no such thing as wheelchair accessible with ‘a small step’. It’s something that comes up so often in visiting shops and places of interest. As soon as somewhere has a small step up, down or anything that has to be explained like that, it becomes inaccessible. I’m so over places putting the blame on disability when in actual fact it is their spaces making us disabled.
10. I Wish I Had Of Those
My number 10 is based around super awkward things again. I know small talk is hard when faced with a disabled person. I’m not sure why, but for some reason, many people get really uncomfortable and blurt out stuff that sounds nice but is actually kind of insensitive. They then usually realise what they’ve said and it starts a cycle of apologies and hole-digging that just has to become laughable at it’s cringe-worthy climax.
“I wish I had one of those!”
“That’s better than having working legs!”
“One careful lady owner!”
“Give us a ride!”
“I bet you can go some in that, can’t you?”
“Who needs walking when you’ve got one of those?!”
These are all legit things strangers have said to me over the past few years, while I’ve been out quietly minding my own business, pootling along in my wheelchair. As you can see, there’s absolutely no malicious intent with any of these questions or statements and I know they are born out of kindness but they are all so cringe. When I’m going about my day, I don’t really want to hear how someone wishes they could have the luxury of being a wheelchair user so they don’t have to walk. It’s light-hearted enough and maybe I should take a joke more, but when you live a life with restricted mobility it’s chuffing hard to hear well-meaning jokes about it. I love my wheelchair and I love my life but it took me a long time to get here. I have gone through a lot of struggles, mental and physical pain. I’m still going through it and it won’t change, Ever. Life is all the amazing things I write about but my life is also really hard.
So I think that’s all for my personal top 10 of annoying things wheelchair users have to deal with. I hope it gave you a bit of insight in to things you might be able to change or help with as a person without disabilities, with a bit of a light-hearted twist. If you are disabled and reading this, do you have anything to add to my list? Let me know below!