Last year saw the first event in an annual day to mark a special day for disabled people through out the UK. Disabled Access Day was not set up to shout about what is wrong with our society but instead to highlight what is possible and to get disabled people out and about. I took part to write a review, and found myself totally sucked into the joyous nature of the day. Luckily Disabled Access Day has come round again and this Saturday, March 12th, accessible tourist attractions, venues and other places of interest all over the country will throw open their doors to disabled people, their families and friends allowing them to experience what each has on offer.
It's easy when you are disabled to get ground down by the myriad of bad experiences, which all too easily become so common place that you can give up on trying to get out in to the world. I expect every wheelchair user has found themselves unable to get into buildings due to steps or other barriers, most visually impaired people will have found themselves terrified when visiting somewhere with poor way finding or inaccessible information and most people with hearing impairment have been isolated when facing people with no understanding of their communication needs. Disabled Access Day is not about those everyday experiences, it's about showing that there are places out there that have got it right and that are easy for disabled people to visit. It's a way of building your confidence if the knock backs have gotten too much or you are new to an impairment. Even if you go out a lot Disabled Access Day is a day when you get to experience not only great access, but lots of little extras.
Last year my wife and I visited St Paui's Cathedral, for the first time ever, and was blown away. We had a great guide show us around and was made to feel very welcome. This is the usual treatment for St Paul's but knowing they were part of DAD reassured us before we set off. We then went to the Tate Modern, which were running special touch tours for people who were taking part in the day, especially those with visually impairments, allowing them to touch art works. How cool is that? Borough Market were running BSL interrupted cooking courses too, and all of this was what was going on in one small part of London. This year the list of attractions from all over the UK that are taking part is far too long to list here, so go along to their website and see what's going on near you. If you're visiting Borough Market or the Museum of London maybe see you there.
All pictures by permission copyright Diane Wallace