I am the mother of three children, two of which have mobility issues. They use walkers and wheelchairs to get around.

Here is my accessibility audit of our local area, one picture at a time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This whole access thing.

I've been trying to put my finger on why this whole access thing bothers me so much. And last week I posted a picture on our Instagram account and it became clear.

This is the photo I posted.

We got a response quickly.

See, that response is fairly typical. It generally goes along those lines of "of course we wouldn't dream of not serving you/not letting you in. Just contact us and we'll bring it over to you". Or, "just swing by at the back entrance".

I'm sick and tired of that response.

It's simply not good enough.

It's disability discrimination.

There is an old trick to work out if something is discrimination or not. It's called "swap the minority".  If it's still ok it's ok. If it's not, it's not.

Would it be ok if Jewish customers are not able to access the shop via the front door but need to place their order and wait outside till staff bring it out?  Was it ok when black people had to use the back entrance to be served?

Now, I concede that some physical adjustment would have to be made for wheelchair users that other minorities would not need. But when shops and cafes and restaurants spend bucketloads on fitting out their  establishments to reflect their ethos or brand or "vibe", can they really not spend a bit more on constructing a ramp? It's handy for people with wheelchairs. And vision impairments. And mothers with prams. And the delivery guy with his trolley stacked full of boxes.

I understand too that many shops and cafes don't own the building they operate from. But talk to your landlord (and council) about access. If all else fails, build an internal ramp. Just stop discriminating.

Having a disability is one of those things, it does makeslife more complicated. But what really makes it difficult is the built environment that keeps people out, and the prevailing negative attitude towards people with disability. 

A wheelchair is just as much an enabling device as a pair of glasses is. 

And locking people out is with a step is just as discriminatory as hanging a "whites only" sign in your front window.

Enough already!


  1. As exhausting as it is, keep up the pressure Heike. A small ramp, even if constructed to be put out during working hours could not be that difficult. I don't drink coffee but I have been known to enjoy popping in there for a smoothie.... and about the council's attention to the lumps and bumps in the paving around there too....it's a shocker