When you are a wheelchair user like me, access is so important. Access to transport. Access to housing. Access to employment. Access to leisure and tourism. Without access we can’t move, live, work, learn, and socialise.
Fortunately the world is gradually getting more accessible. New projects in transport and construction have accessibility regulations. The Equalities Act struggles to improve existing accessibility due to the fluffy meaning of ‘reasonable adjustments’. However many places are improving over time.
I’ve managed to arrange an accessible home, have an adapted car, I do use public transport too, I’ve worked in London, now I work remotely on my travels, and always enjoy adventures.
In the UK, my favourite places are the New Forest near the South coast, and the North Norfolk coast in East Anglia. It’s great to get out in the nature with my wheelchair. Also I do enjoy restaurants and the cinema closer to home.
So when Mobility Nationwide said they were running a campaign about #accessforall, I was delighted to join in. Here’s my top questions for enjoying a great adventure, without access dramas.
1) Where do you want to go?
Don’t fall into a trap of access always comes first. If all you do is look at door widths and lifts, it’ll be no time before you give up. Instead, daydream about what excites you. Research places of interest, regardless of your access needs. Aim to live your craziest dreams.
2) What are your access needs?
Now we get logical. Remember your needs are unique. So make a list of the things that must be in place, and a list of the things you’d prefer to be in place. Sometimes we have to compromise for our dreams a little. You might need accessible public transport, or just prefer not to take the car.
3) Is your destination accessible?
In today’s world this is easy. Research their website. Ask friends. Go on to the appropriate Facebook groups and ask others who have been. Phone the office of the place you want to visit.
4) What to take?
Maybe you need particular foods, and the restaurant doesn’t cater. Fine. Take a picnic. Maybe there’s a small step. Fine. Bring a portable ramp.
It’s always a trade off between thinking of potential problems, and not taking the kitchen sink
5) What if something goes wrong?
From my experience something usually does. But it’s never catastrophic. Plus the more you plan above, the less likely this is to happen. Remember life is full of challenges. Disabled or not.
6) How can I help?
If you know of great places now, or experience them in the future – share this information with the hashtag #MobilityTravel. It’s the best way to encourage venues to improve (by not missing out on our custom), and supporting other disabled people to enjoy better leisure times.
Here’s the campaign info graphic of the UKs more accessible options: