Accessible Advent

Over on Twitter a number of disabled people are doing their accessible advent. Naming things that would make life accessible for them.

As someone who isn’t always great at managing to keep up with these social media things, I thought I could put mine together in a blog post instead.

Here is my #AccessibleAdvent:

1) Accessible homes! This one is a big one for me. Living in a home that is inaccessible is really hard. I cannot move somewhere easily as when buying homes (yes I know that is a major privileged position I am in) people are told to rip out the things that are put in for elderly relatives to make them look less disabled before re selling. The only way for me to get an accessible home is to buy one and renovate which is hugely expensive and way more than my wages! Luckily I have a supportive partner and hope the DFG will help (Disabled Facilities Grant).

2) More accessible homes everywhere would make my job easier too!

3) Access to adapted cars. I cannot afford an adapted vehicle or WAV. PIP thinks I can walk further than I can. This means me having to keep re referring myself to the DWP. I can’t get back to work without an adapted car and wheelchair, so I’m kind of stuck in this ever revolving cycle!

4) Access to wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are sooooo expensive. WCS (Wheelchair Services) is so over stretched and the options are limited so much. I’ve been on a 10/11 month waiting list so far and haven’t even had a first appointment. And then because of number 1 (home inaccessible) I can’t get much help from them anyway!! (Another cycle I am stuck in!!)

5) Access to work. In theory super helpful, in reality a nightmare to deal with, lots of delays and employers that don’t want to help with funding make for a toxic mix for some people and therefore no help accessing work!

6) Basic understanding of disability for service providers and retail. This would really help. Why isn’t it happening?

7) Accessible healthcare. I’ve found NHS to be some of the most inaccessible buildings anywhere! And the most likely place to have wheelchair users attending!

8) Cost of accessibility aids. Wheelchairs cost the same as a car, my crutches cost around £150. All essential to my everyday living but how are most people meant to finance these things. Benefits don’t cover these costs at all! My employment doesn’t cover these costs, so we are often stuck with equipment that doesn’t quite meet our needs, is damaging or with massive debt.

9) Accessible public transport. And by accessible I mean independently being able to get in a train whenever I want to, not having to rely on a member of staff who has to be booked two days in advance.

10) Level boarding everywhere on public transport. And more multi use areas that could mean I could catch a train or bus with a wheelchair using friend and travel together.

11) Accessible buildings mandatory. It should not be up to individual disabled people to take owners of inaccessible buildings to court. It should be mandatory for everywhere. It is possible to make listed buildings accessible so there really is no excuse.

12) Accessible meaning independently accessible. If I cannot get in on my own without assistance in my wheelchair, then to me it is not accessible.

13) In addition to above, every public building should have a mandatory assessment for accessibility that they have to display on their website. And keep updated!

14) Stop having lifts or ramps only accessible if a non-disabled person climbs some steps to go in and ask for them to be turned on/brought out. This is not accessible as it means I have to have someone with me at all times. I can’t buy my partner a present somewhere if I have to bring her everywhere so I can get in!!

15) Allergen lists are an accessibility issue. Stop treating them as people being difficult or fussy!!

16) Accessible and clear information provided as standard. I have learned a lot from my friend Ciara about this. Easy Read, Subtitles and BSL at a minimum (and yes subtitles are still needed as well as BSL).

17) BSL and other sign languages should be taught in schools and options for examinations at GCSE/A Level or equivalent. (I know, I’m old!!)

18) Access to leisure and social activities should be as important as access to work. I know it’s meant to be in adult assessments but I’m not sure it is given the same value.

19) Sex and relationship education must include disabled people. Anyone can become disabled so it’s good to have this built in from the start. Disabled people are not asexual people, make sure everyone knows how to have sex safely and what consent means.

20) Going back to healthcare slightly, but sexual health clinics must be accessible, have accessible information and have staff specifically trained in disability.

21) The pandemic has shown us that many reasonable adjustments disabled people have been requesting for years are in fact possible, so hopefully this will continue giving disabled people access to employment.

22) Access to education and careers should be better. See articles from me in Community Care and BASW for the changes needed in my profession to be accessible and inclusive.

23) I really would like there to be national enforceable minimum standards for access to buildings. All buildings, no matter their age should have a minimum level of accessibility.

24) The greatest Christmas present I could receive for #AccessibleAdvent would be a law that actually supports disabled people in access to buildings, services, leisure, education, travel and employment. The Equality Act is only enforceable if disabled people individually manage to do this. It is written to heavily favour employers and businesses so that as long as they can state why they haven’t made themselves accessible they will be ok. This must be better.

Thanks for reading my Accessibility wish list. I dream of a world I can access, let’s see if it becomes a reality!!

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