Disability awareness is common practice when having a disability – noticing where things are wrong in society or where life cannot meet my needs. Even worse is when people arrange an event or build something new, blatantly not taking into consideration the needs of everyone. It’s positive that disability awareness is being taken seriously by Solihull Council.
Whether it is down to cost or plain ignorance or some other weak reason, it’s not fair; it’s 2022, and thighs should be easily accessible for everyone – importantly, new builds or renovations*
Old buildings that have stood the tests of time, Seen kings and queens pass by; I can understand they might not be converted to allow access for people with mobility needs easily. If there is no space or it’s not structurally safe, it is fair to accept it! I can’t get in – thinking Aylesbury Crown Court. But that’s a blog for another time!
Everyone has Different Needs
But as time is ticking by for us all, awareness is more in the spotlight.
Whether it’s as tricky as a step, a door with a step, or maybe a problematic course mat to push along, everyone’s accessibility needs are different.
There is even a difference between accessing something independently or with support from an attendant. Individual needs can be poles apart, whether physical ability, attitude or the aid used.
Making a Difference
The Management Support Officer contacted me from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. With a request to organise a group attendant wheelchair navigation training session. Directed to town planners, this training is to cover wheelchair usage and assisted manoeuvring.
We will be sharing and discussing training descriptions and offering a chance for the staff to gain first-hand experience of what a wheelchair user, or a personal assistant supporting a wheelchair user, might have to experience daily. This training will help determine requirements for renovations or new developments to make life accessible for everyone.
Apart from gaining direct experience from my tuition as a wheelchair user or attendant, the participants may also find it emotionally challenging. The sudden realisation of life, either supporting someone with physical needs or as someone who has needs resulting in the use of a mobility aid.
They are discovering first-hand that a wheelchair can be a challenge to control in certain circumstances (camber, undulating terrain) and how to manage kerbs without causing injury to them themselves, their attendant, or a third party of people supporting, bringing the awareness of space while turning – not to catch feet or ankles.
And also the realisation of the view. Of permanently being at a lower height than the majority of society!
Taking Disability Seriously
Disability Awareness is serious. Disability is serious, and it is real. People live with it, some permanently, some ad-hoc (or some just when they feel like it).
Although, for Solihull Council to consider thoughtfully about disability is a positive step forward. For everyone.
It’s not just crucial for them to smooth out these environmental challenges that used to be forgotten or neglected in the past. But vitally for the end user. The person wheeling, limping or struggling to get themselves through the new shopping precinct or housing development.
If everyone accepted the need to make life accessible, life would be easier.
Except for old buildings, keep them old, keep them unchanged – history was written for a reason!
After the training, I’m confident that the town planners will understand people’s needs better. And realise that the reality of people’s individual needs can be met…… Not sure what I’m trying to say here….. I know from my perspective, living with a disability isn’t all bad or negative at all….. it’s just life!
*with some expectations.