People seem to think that somewhere being accessible means it has a ramp, maybe electric doors or a lift.. so you can get inside and maybe upstairs. But that doesn't make somewhere accessible in the true sense of the word. It simply means you can get in.
Being fully accessible means that everyone can get around the venue and access the same things, regardless of ability or disability.
And that's where the problem lies. As Jack Sparrow once said, "The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem"
For too many years now the law has been vague and has allowed people to interpret it to suit their building/business, which in some circumstances is understandable as what may be reasonable for a £multi-billion company may be extremely unreasonable for a small newsagent for example.
But this lack of clarity has meant that disabled people are still being treated like second class citizens in their communities every day. They are not treated as equals and are left feeling unwelcome in many places.
And it's not just the disabled person who feels this way, its their family and friends as well.
My son's disability means I cannot visit places for any length of time unless I can get his wheelchair inside (and not be in everyone else's way) and they have a hoist assisted toilet for him to use because he can't use a standard disabled toilet - which incidentally is simply a bigger room, with a toilet inside and if you're lucky a grab rail, the name 'disabled toilet' is pretty apt as it disables many from even being able to use it because of the lack of assistive equipment.
When I ask a venue to provide such a facility I am usually met with hostility and shock. Shock that I'm even asking and hostility because it's not their problem, his needs should be met somewhere else, by someone else, it's someone else's problem.
But this constant passing of the buck is getting us no where and I'm sick of being made to feel like it's my sons problem, his fault, that he can't use the facilities they've provided.
It isn't his fault that he can't use their facilities, its their fault for not researching properly to find out their customers needs and making sure they are providing facilities suitable for all their customers.
Sending disabled people elsewhere doesn't solve the problem, it isn't someone else's responsibility to provide something elsewhere, when it is needed it in the venue they are visiting, not elsewhere.
Passing the buck doesn't solve the problem, it just moves the access somewhere else.
You wouldn't tell someone they cant get up the stairs as you have no lift but direct them to another store that does have one! But this is what our high street household names are effectively doing by expecting someone else to provide a facility they could easily provide for customers that are asking for better facilities.
It's time to stop passing the buck and take responsibility.
Responsibility for providing the facilities customers need - because we all NEED to pee, that isn't a choice.
Responsibility for making ALL customers feel welcome, not just those who are easy to cater for.
And responsibility for making disabled people feel like first class citizens regardless of their ability.
Hoist assisted toilets are just one aspect of accessibility but the need for them is great, it is estimated that over five million people would benefit from these types of toilets and anyone at any time could need these facilities if they themselves became unexpectedly disabled for any reason.
After all the disabled population is the largest minority group on the planet, and is the only minority group any of us could join at any time.
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