Monday, 4 January 2016

Slowly does it...

I know I am a little bit late with the 'reflecting on the year that was 2015' post but it is OK as I am not looking back on the year that has passed. Although it was personally a very good one for me; moving into my flat was a particular highlight. Instead, I will be looking back between now and when I first started using a wheelchair part time (2004) to see if life is better in 2016 for disabled people.

Without question, there have been a lot of positive changes in recent history to improve the lives of disabled people including improved access to public transport and other daily activities that able-bodied people take for granted.

However, I decided to make the title of this blog post 'slowly does it' because any changes in the way disabled people are treated within society is gradual. I might go into one restaurant (via a ramp), take a lift upstairs to eat and use the disabled toilet before leaving. Then I might go into a shop next door (where my carer has to bump my wheelchair up a step), struggle to get around the tight layout just to be told that the men's section is upstairs and there's no lift. That is a true story and is just one example of how victory in the fight for equal access seems imminent yet is actually so far away.

The greatest challenge for the disabled is changing people's attitudes towards them. There has been a noticeable improvement over the past few years in my opinion. Whether that is because the media are beginning to use disabled talent (nowhere near enough but comedians like Alex Brooker are better than nothing) or young people are simply more educated and less ignorant as a result, I do not know. It just seems that there is now a 50/50 split between those who understand we are normal like them and those that see the disabled as scum of the earth whereas before, large swathes of society thought that way.

Last month, 14 people were killed in California following an attack on a disability centre ( Massacres are not uncommon in America but this was the first one that seems targeted on a specific group of people. Perhaps it is just me being paranoid that the world is out to get disabled people or maybe it is a metaphor (quite a strong one) to symbolise the disabled shall never be equal as there will always be people out there who want society to be cleansed of these imperfections.

On that somber and rather depressing note, I would like to wish a belated Happy New Year to all my wonderful readers. I plan to have a more productive 2016 when it comes to writing but how many times have I said that?

A: Just the once because it has never been 2016 before...

Bye for now!

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