International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2019


I realise this post isn’t actually written or posted on IDPD, however that is because yesterday I was taking a self care day. I was very tired and quite fed up so I thought I’d spend the day relaxing. Now today I am spending the day doing stuff. For example I have organised my inbox from the past 10 years. That’s not to say I have neglected my inbox for 10 years, but you know how you get those emails you just leave sitting in your main inbox, festering away, clogging everything up. Well no more! I have a clean inbox. It is empty!

Anyway, that was a tangent. Back to it.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day to raise awareness of people with disabilities, the challenges we face, the abuse faced by disabled people, the injustices, all of the negatives. It is also an opportunity for us to tell the world, we are here, we have rights, needs and wants. We want to be apart of society and we have a right to be a part of society.

A big thing for myself as someone with a lot of hidden disabilities is the lack of patience. People expect things done, now now now. However disabled people need a bit more time to complete tasks. Which can be quite frustrating for us if we are dealing with people who want to live in the fast lane and refuse to accept that disabled people can do things, just maybe a little slower.

A good example of this would be when I am getting on the train. If you catch public transport you will be aware of the rush that comes with it. As soon as the train arrives people are jostling to get to the train doors first. For someone with a visual impairment and very little peripheral vision this is horrible.

This week I have had to stick my elbow out at the side of me to stop people pushing in front of me while getting on the train- might I add I use a guide cane, which makes no difference to people what so ever. At one point I put my guide cane up onto the step of the train and I still felt someone place their foot on the step trying to push past me. I said quite sarcastically ‘Thank you’ as I stepped onto the train. You might think they would get the message, but no. Often people will turn their bodies side ways to try get past me as I’m making my way down the carriage. This is unsafe, as when I’m getting on the train I need to be able to step safely from the platform to the step, without patience I could miss the gap and then fall. Causing delays, which is going to get people more frustrated.

So for your own best interests, not mine, please let me get on first.

You might think this only happens to those of us with guide canes because ‘Oh I didn’t see you’. But no. It happens to wheelchair users too. When the station staff come to put the ramp down, passengers will not, in cases, allow the ramp to be put down, they will again turn side ways and step onto the train when the ramp is partially in place. It gets better. Passengers may then not notice the person in the wheelchair and all begin to use the ramp. Pushing onto the train to find a space. Where is that space? the space reserved for wheelchairs. Which then means the person using the wheelchair, (who has booked passenger assistance otherwise they won’t be able to get on, specifically for that train) cannot get on the train. Meaning, that they have to wait for the next train they have not booked assistance for.

But the station staff will sort them out? Well, what about when someone is there to meet them at the other end? They won’t be on train to get the assistance to get off. Before you say anything, no it is not an easy fix. If you miss your train and you are using assisted travel, there is a knock on effect. Possibly meaning you lose your assistance when you reach your destination, meaning you cannot get off the train, or you can’t get assistance to the barriers to get out.

It is beyond frustrating.

Another instance when I wish people had more patience was the other day when someone stepped over my guide cane while I was queuing to get through the barriers. What made this worse was the fact that this person looked right at me as they did so. Probably checking I was really visually impaired. I was so wound up from a rubbish day anyway I couldn’t react. When I could have done one of two things: ‘Would you like to get past?’ or just swiped my can across the floor causing them to fall. I wouldn’t, that would be cruel.

The world is becoming more and more intolerant, and that is not just of disabled people. It is ridiculous that people are so wrapped up in their own worlds they cannot think beyond themselves. They only care about what is best for them.

Patience is one thing I would ask for, the other is kindness. You may have seen Blind Dads post the the other day when he was trying to cross a road where the signal box was covered up due to work being done. A workman noticed him and came over to ask if he needed any help. He said yes and they got across the road safely as he guided him correctly by asking for permission and letting Amit take his arm. Once safely across the road he let him know they were on the pavement and where about’s they were. This act of kindness was great, it was one human looking out for another.

Above all, on reflections from International Day of Disabled Persons I would ask for respect. We are people too. We have needs and wants just like everyone else. We have rights.

Please be respectful of us. Don’t tell us what we need, listen to what we say we need. Engage with us rather than ignoring us and having meetings about inclusion without us. Just because you know a Blind person does not mean you can speak for them. Just because you know a Deaf person does not mean you can speak for them. Just because you know an Autistic person does not mean you can speak for them. Listen to them, then ask them how they want to be helped, ask how you can help, never assume. You may offer what you think, but if we say ‘no’ then respect that.

Another person you may have seen on Twitter is Blonde Historian. Her campaign is ‘Just ask Don’t grab’. Can you guess what is meant by this? All Amy is asking is to ‘ask permission’ before you touch someone. Especially for people like myself and Amy, who don’t see very well, it can be quite daunting when someone reaches out and touches us. Ask first, we are glad you want to help because, for myself anyway, I am quite tired and can’t form a sentence when all my energy is going into navigating that train step.

Please be respectful, we are people too. I will leave it at that.

Thank you for reading my Random Musings.

I’m on the Twitter @PhilippaB

I’m on the Instagram @VisuallyImpairedPip

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