May the 16th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Basically what the name of the day is, is what it’s all about.
To start my day I went to work and there were so many people waiting for the train I just took one look at the platform and thought ‘no thank you’. I checked to see when the next train was and it was only a few minute later. So I decided to wait. This was the sensible option as it meant I had more chance of getting a seat. Which I got.
(image below shows a guide can e being held up in front of a purple train seat facing sideways. Beyond the chair is train door open to the right)
I find my journey to work very taxing because if I start early the sun is low in the sky which means there’s a lot of glare. I have started to wear a hat which, along with my sunglasses cuts out the glare a little more. This has made getting to work a little easier. It is also helpful when people move out of my path when they are a good few feet away so I’m not worried about thinking ‘will they move, will they trip over my guide cane?’
A few days ago I had someone move at the very last minute. By this I mean, they brushed passed my shoulder. I find it very difficult being visually impaired, but on top of this I have Dyspraxia. Meaning I find it hard to coordinate my movements. I cannot see, I cannot react quickly and therefore I rely on others to watch where they’re going. I don’t have the ability to be as mobile as others.
GAAD is a day to bring these issues front and centre a little more. However, GAAD is only one day. The issues we face as a disabled community are quite varied. We use this day to make our issues known. The problem comes when GAAD is over. This happens during Priority Seat Week too. (This scheme appears to be London based, which I think needs to be rolled out nation wide. Accessible travel is not something we expect only when we visit London.) People-hopefully- give up their seats during Priority Seat Week and then as soon as it is over normal service is resumed. Just as on GAAD people think it’s just one day.
It is not.
Disabled people exist 24/7 365 days of the year. We do not wish to be stuck at home, some of us have jobs believe it or not. Some of us go volunteering. All of us have lives- just like you!
All we want is access. We have a right to access society and be seen as human beings. In my previous post I wrote about disability chic, and how being disabled isn’t something we should feel bad about. Yes, we do have our down days but that’s what people do. We shouldn’t be excluded from having a life, we should be included in society.
GAAD is all about accessibility and making the world work for everyone. We are not second class citizens. How would you feel if you were excluded from an event?
Unfortunately there are a lot of groups out there who will be used to this feeling. Whether it’s because of race, ethnicity, disability, there are so many ways in which people can be made to feel excluded.
We share one thing in common, we are all human. Why can’t we work together to create an accessible world everyday?
We can. We must. We are. I went into Boots a few weeks ago and a member of staff came up to me straight away and asked if I needed help. This was wonderful. The other day I got on the train and I was asked by the conductor if I needed assistance. I asked them to help me find a seat. I usually get a taxi home due to the amount of pain I am in, the taxi drivers ask me if I’m OK getting in and out. Yesterday a person asked if I was looking for a taxi. I said yes and they opened the door for me. I said thank you.
It’s important to remember our world can be accessible and it is accessible in many ways. But that does not mean it is perfect. It could be a lot better. That is why we need GAAD. To remind ourselves that conversation shouldn’t stop. That we can keep making our world a better place. Please remember to be kind and always ask someone if they need help. If they don’t that is OK, but in asking you showed that there will always be someone to help.
Acts of human kindness go along way.
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