Tag Archives: access

This Is Important

I am not trying to start an argument with any parents with kids in prams that need to use the bus, but I agree with this ruling.

For the record, unless I am on a schedule, I will often take the next bus if the one I am trying to board is crowded and there is a baby buggy in the spot. However, most trips are scheduled, and so I believe that several points need to be considered as regards this territorial debate.

1. As a wheelchair user in London, I don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to public transportation.  The step-free tube stations are still scarce, and the overground doesn’t run throughout the city extensively enough to be a viable option. Unless I pony up the money to take a cab, my only choice is the bus. The bus is my primary, and almost only means of getting round London on public transportation.

2. I can’t fold up my wheelchair and sit in a regular seat. Buggies fold, and kids can sit on laps.

3. The space was originally designed for wheelchairs, not for prams. It’s fortunate for pram pushers that the space is there when there are no wheelchair users on the bus, but when someone in a chair needs the space that was designed for wheelchairs, then it’s only right that the person in the space relinquish it to the wheelchair user

So this is important.


Change to mobility scheme rules

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disability-benefits-motabililty-rule-change-disabled-people-vehicles-dwp-a7191636.html

 

Up to 500 disabled people every week have had to give back the vehicles that help them stay independent because of a new tough benefits rule.

The Government “Motability” scheme allows disabled people to lease mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs and cars.

But every week, between 400 and 500 people are forced to hand over their vehicles after a controversial “20-metre rule” was introduced, according to a report by a leading charity.


Paris Access

Helen and I recently took a trip to Paris. Getting there from London is a very pleasant two hour fifteen minute train ride on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, to Gare du Norde. Eurostar personnel are always very friendly and efficient (it helps if you remind them throughout check-in that you’ll need a ramp) and train travel means I don’t have to transfer in and out of my chair and I am able to roll around the carriage and use the loo if I want. I prefer this over plane travel by far.

Access in Paris is very good. Most of the sidewalks/pavements are easy and free of cobbles, or even seams, as they tend to be made of one solid paving of concrete. The metro system is not accessible, but the buses are, and the #38 takes us straight from Gare du Norde to Place St Michel on the Left Bank (our favorite part of the city).

A good portion of the shops are on the ground level, with an easy ramp. Here’s a photo of the entrance to a “Carrefour” (a chain of convenience and supermarkets found throughout France)…

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The curbs are very well ramped at most intersections. here is an example…

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and another one…

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Outdoor seating is a wonderful way to avoid the dilemma of finding a restaurant with step-free access (although most have an accessible entrance if one wants to eat indoors), and there are few of Life’s Great Pleasures that can beat sitting in an outdoor cafe and having a plate of bread and cheese and a bottle of French wine, watching Paris walk by.

There are also several places where access to the banks of the Seine can be had down ramped roads, although they can be a little steep, and there are cobbles at the bottom. I just took it slow, and it went well, and we had a lovely picnic of (you guessed it), bread and cheese and wine in the sun, near Notre Dame. This is what the cobbled bit looks like…
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Looking the other way, you get a view of Notre Dame.

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Cafe with outdoor seating, at night.

le st andrecropped
W
e had a wonderful time. We’ll be back.


Why won’t hotels invest £140?

In the absence of a worldwide – or even Europe-wide – code of standards, it can be a complete gamble for a wheelchair-user when booking hotel rooms. Often the access rooms are simply ‘wheelchair friendly’ i.e. the door is wide enough to get through and there may be a few grab rails in the bathroom for good measure.

Just this week, I booked a disabled room at the Premier Inn in Brighton. Luckily, I checked the facilities afterwards – just on a hunch – and learned that there is no shower bench. Just ‘ample room’, grab rails and a low bath. When I questioned how a paraplegic was supposed to get in and out of the bath, I was told that the rooms “have all gone through disabled access groups”. This room has been approved by disabled access professionals who have clearly mastered the art of levitation. Possibly too niche a group to be determining what is suitable for the wider population?

We are following this up with the accessibility coordinator at Premier Inn and then possibly via Whitbread HQ.  Watch this space to see how it develops.  I really don’t have the time to follow this up every time we encounter a problem, though.

Why can’t all hotels just follow the US standards, hard-fought, through the Americans with Disability Act?

One of the stipulations there is: “Identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms offered through its reservations service in enough detail to reasonably permit individuals with disabilities to assess independently whether a given hotel or guest room meets his or her accessibility needs.”  This is the LEAST that hotels should be doing.  As an example, we were pretty impressed with this document available from the Thistle Hotel in Brighton.

The most common problem we face at hotels is the failure to provide adequate seating in the bath tub or roll-in shower area. They cost about £140!  Much, much less than the price of our planned stay at the Premier Inn. If I were the manager of the Premier Inn in Brighton and I’d had an email from me, complaining about this ridiculous situation, I would have said:  “You are not coming here until October, we have plenty of time to purchase a shower bench, which will be a fantastic investment for other guests who may have special needs too.”  The manager was very professional and very polite but did not take this initiative, sadly.  **(See update below)** So we cancelled the booking and have now opted for the MyHotel which has a shower seat in the wet room.

I could rant for much longer about the poor facilities in other Brighton hotels (including the Holiday Inn which is normally our go-to chain for reliability of suitable adaptations and provision of a shower transfer bench!) but life is short. Stuff to do, innit.

** Update: I have discovered that the manager of the Brighton Premier Inn has in fact enquired about benches with the accessibility co-ordinator.  Everything they buy must be from an approved supplier and authorised by our head office, especially around disabled access rooms.  “This particular issue of seats have never come across before in this hotel and if my head office is happy for us to purchase some, then it would not be a problem (they would in this case recommend us a particular brand and supplier).”  Looking hopeful!


This Beggars Belief.

So, instead of making sure that restroom facilities are ADA compliant, a facility has the option of just closing all the restrooms?


Wheel New York Kickstarter project

Just noticed this Kickstarter project to create a website and mobile app that will allow the disabled and elderly to safely navigate and enjoy New York City…

Part of the spiel reads “currently there is no centralized place for them to get all the accessibility information they need to safely navigate and enjoy the city.”

Understandable if this were a little town somewhere in the Cotswolds but this is NEW YORK!  It beggars belief that so many big cities do not have this information.

Good luck to everyone involved in the project.


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