Kerbs

I was writing a post about PTSD and misconceptions but that’s on the back burner for this afternoon I became filled with anger.

After having a rather good morning in which I got a huge round of applause on the bus for managing to manoeuvre my wheelchair into it’s  designated spot, whilst avoiding two prams and a chap who decided rather than moving out of my way he would just pretend I wasn’t there. I decided I would not get the bus back home, I would take advantage of my nearly full wheelchair batteries and the pleasant weather.

I hit a load of street works so decided to take a shortcut via the back of Harborne/ Edgbaston in Birmingham. It was then I found myself stuck in a maze of streets with no lowered kerbs/curbs. I have not sworn so much in a very long time – my apologies to any with a dislike of foul language on my twitter feed.

When I got home I sat down and using Write To Them I sent my local councillors a email detailing all the problems I met on such a simple journey and extending them an invite to come and see first hand how dangerous the lack of basic lowered kerbs is to someone using a wheelchair. I also included some information from the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, which includes a public authority equality duty.

I can’t go a week without someone trying to tell me the DDA made it illegal for anywhere to be inaccessible, therefore everywhere must be fully assessable to everyone. The truth is much more depressing. Only businesses of a considerable size are required to be assessable, smaller businesses, councils, pavements, buses, the very homes of disabled people are not required by law to be assessable.

If we want to see better access as a community we need to start fighting harder for it. Buildings that refuse to provide wheelchair access need to be seen as buildings choosing to bar the entrance of wheelchair users. Councils refusing to make pavements accessible need to be seen as agencies complicit, even if it is simply through negligence, in furthering the inequalities faced by disabled people. Attitudes need to start changing so we can move onwards.

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  1. I once went over a mile out of my way just because the only dropped kerb had someone parked in front of it and there were no others nearby at all!

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  2. I've been considering buying some of those stickers that say “You've blocked a lowered kerb, it's illegal” to pop on cars that block them. But I'm worried that sticking things to people's cars may itself be frowned upon by the police 😉

    Still, the thing that irks me is the sheer lack of lowered kerbs in the first place. It wouldn't be as bad if you just had to go an extra metre or two left, but a mile? It's just terrible.

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