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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Getting out and about 1

There are two issues which interest me at the moment, regarding wheelchair use. The first relates back to a BBC article that implied that disabled people are an afterthought when it comes to accessibility. The second came from various online discussions with other wheelchair users who say people stare at them when they go out.

I'm going to pay more attention to both of these things as I go out and about over the next few weeks. I started with an easy one, yesterday. I visited an indoor designer outlet, just outside York. I don't know when it was built but we have been shopping there since before we moved to Finland, so that's over 7 years ago now.

Accessibility

There is loads of blue badge parking - an entire car park full, in fact. It's not very well signposted though, so on a first visit, it might not be easy to find. As you enter the complex, there are two lanes to drive down. For accessible parking, you have to be in the right hand lane and then go past the first car park and it's on the left just after. The car park is flat and there are plenty of spaces. I find it dead easy to get myself into the centre.

A while ago, when I wrote about getting started with self-propelling a wheelchair, I recommended somewhere like this for practising. That's because the floors are smooth and flat, with no camber. All the shop entrances are completely level. I normally wear gloves for propelling but in places like this, I don't bother. It's easy enough to just use my bare hands.

There is a food hall upstairs and there are two lifts. They aren't huge though and at peak times, queues build up. Yesterday, we had to queue for the lift to get back downstairs after lunch. It made me think about a 'how to' video I saw about using wheelchairs on escalators. I'm chicken though, and don't want to try that.

Staring

I'm in various online groups where disability issues get discussed. One that often comes up is that people stare at you because you're in a wheelchair. I've never noticed this but I'm not the most observant person, so I thought I'd check it out with my not-so-secret camera. I've edited it down to 2 mins but I promise I didn't edit out a single starer! Honestly, nobody gave a stuff about me. Most people are just going about their own business, without a thought for what I'm doing.

It might be a UK/US thing. It might be a north/south thing. I don't know why some people are or feel stared at but I got no starers. The only people who occasionally look at me, are kids and teens who notice my seriously cool, flashing front casters - and who can blame them?!?! They are designed to be noticed and admired!

Video

This was my first attempt at using my new wheelchair camera bracket. It took a while to find a place to attach it and get the angle right. Well, it's still not right but I'll keep working on it.


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