Posts

A Tail of Two Halves.

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Every morning, without fail, Sue takes our dog, Crumble, for a stroll around the neighbourhood. It's their little ritual, a bit of 'me-time' for both. I enjoy the peace and quiet, contemplating the mysteries of the universe or, more likely, just savouring a coffee and relishing the fact that I'm not the one picking up Crumble's "presents" along the way. Sue's walks are more than just walks. They're mini adventures, and she always returns with some local news or a snippet about the progress of the seasons, flooding in the fields, or the latest neighbourhood drama. You know, the real hard-hitting stuff. On this particular day, Sue's curiosity was piqued not by the usual neighbourhood gossip or Crumble's antics (though watching her try to catch a squirrel is always entertaining). No, it was something unusual. As she walked into our drive, she decided on a whim to check the flowerbeds next to her car, probably hoping to find that missing earrin

An Accessible Shopping Expedition: Navigating the Retail Jungle on Wheels

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Today's outing was more of an escapade than your run-of-the-mill shopping trip. Spurred by my wife's vision of a delightful day combining retail therapy with culinary indulgence, we set off for the mall. This isn't just any day out for someone who navigates the world from a wheelchair. Our adventure began promisingly with a parking spot snagged without a hitch. However, the journey from car to store quickly morphed into an unexpected game of dodgeball, featuring parked cars as the main opponents—apparently, they hadn't received the memo about not blocking dropped curbs. This whole experience whisked me back to the '90s, a time when I collaborated with M&S on pioneering retail accessibility. Oh, those were the glory days of innovation, with carpets and acrylic tiles laying down the red carpet (literally) for our visually impaired friends, guiding them through the store with the finesse of a tactile GPS. Fast forward to the present, and it seems we've taken a

2024: A Turning Point for the UK's Disabled Community in Climate Advocacy?

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Happy New Year! As we welcome this new year, I have been reflecting on the impact of climate change on the lives of disabled people. I have been thinking about how they can take control of their own futures and prepare for the challenges ahead. This has led me to imagine a scenario where I am invited to speak at COP24 in front of leaders and influencers from all over the world. If given the opportunity, I would share a message of hope and empowerment for disabled people. It would go something like this: Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed delegates of COP24, As we welcome 2024, I sit before you as one voice from the twelve million disabled individuals in the UK, a demographic often overlooked yet pivotal in the climate change discussion. Our presence at this juncture is not just symbolic; it is a testament to our potential to shape the environmental debate. Imagine with me, if you will, a future where our cities are more than concrete jungles. A future where green spaces and accessibility c

Government's Failure to Appoint a Minister for Disabled People Raises Concerns

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The decision not to appoint a dedicated Minister for Disabled People is deeply concerning. It signals a troubling de-prioritisation of disability issues within the government. This move is not just symbolic; it has real implications. Firstly, the role of a dedicated minister is crucial. It ensures focused attention and expertise on disability matters. By merging this role with other responsibilities, there's a risk that disability issues will be sidelined. This is not just about representation; it's about effective governance. Secondly, the timing is particularly worrying. The UK's disabled community faces numerous challenges. The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities. The rise in long-term sickness and disability, as noted in the article, requires urgent attention. A dedicated minister could spearhead initiatives to address these issues. Tom Purseglove, outgoing Minister for Disabled People Moreover, the government's approach to benefits a nd fit-to-work rules is conte

The UK Government's Absence at the UN: What It Means for Disabled Peoples Rights

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In recent news that might have flown under your radar, the UK government has decided to sit out an important meeting at the United Nations. This isn’t just any meeting; it scrutinises the treatment of disabled people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). To put it bluntly, our government says, “No thanks, we’d rather not discuss how we’re doing when it comes to supporting disabled people.” A Look Back at 2016 You might be wondering, "Why should I care?" If you look back at 2016, the Committee of Disabled Human Rights Experts released a shocking report. It laid bare the systemic discrimination against disabled people in the UK. And let's not forget that these findings resulted from relentless research and advocacy by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). The Real Impact Now, five years on, a shadow report suggests things have actually gotten worse, not better, for disabled people. Remember, these are not just statistics on

Inclusive Bridges: A Long Journey, An Unfinished Road

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On a balmy evening in July, I went to the National Theatre to watch a riveting production of "Dear England". As a 70-plus-year-old wheelchair user, the play served to remind me of the journey we have undertaken, as a society, towards inclusion and the many more miles we must travel. "Dear England" struck a chord, suggesting parallels with the trials and tribulations of the England football players and the hurdles I and countless others have faced over so many decades.  Half a century earlier, I could not have seen this play. Theatres were not built with wheelchair users in mind, and the lack of physical access was a daunting barrier.  The exclusion was not just about the physicality of accessing buildings; it was an emblem of the broader societal attitude. Disabled individuals, like myself, were often unable to fully participate in life's grand drama. On the fringes, we were spectators unable to access education, employment, and leisure activities, like anyone e

The Unseen Consequences: Closure of Rail Ticket Offices and the Cascade of Challenges

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Ticket Office Closed The recent announcement to close rail ticket offices harbours the potential to fundamentally reshape the train travel experience. At first glance, it appears to be a step towards digital efficiency, but delving deeper reveals its grave implications, particularly for disabled travellers and the general public. For me and other disabled travellers, ticket offices have always been more than just a ticket point. They are a sanctuary for us seeking assistance with navigation, boarding, and ticket purchases. With the closure of these offices, seeking help becomes more daunting, especially in emergencies. And the lack of human presence could make stations feel less secure, leaving passengers, particularly disabled and older people, feeling vulnerable. The proposed closures also bring into focus the technological challenges that lie ahead. While seemingly efficient, advanced ticket vending machines and digital platforms may be user-friendly for some, they spell trouble for