We all rely on being able to get to where we are going. But for those of us with a disability (visible or hidden), or those with other limiting conditions, the mere prospect of getting around can be torture. Why is this happening, and what are local authorities doing to address this problem?
When carrying out observations in the town centre, issues become apparent. A large proportion of the pavements around Eastbourne town centre had cracks and were uneven. This makes getting around challenging for many, including those that use wheelchairs.
Shopping in town
Some local shops have small, cattle pen-like layouts. This design makes it hard for those of us who are disabled. This design also makes shopping stressful for those who are claustrophobic or have autism.
We spoke with the Chair of the Eastbourne Access Group, Brian Day, about this issue: “The smaller shops do have access problems because their aisles are not wide enough. It would be difficult to make it a legal responsibility, but it certainly should be a moral one. “.
If you are disabled or have any other health conditions, you will be entitled to a Blue Badge for your parents’ or guardians’ car (or yours if you’re 17). These badges are intended to provide those of us with special needs with access to closer parking spots. This topic was brought up by Brian. “Blue-badge parking is insufficient in numbers, now; about 1 parking space for every 60 blue-badge holders. This figure will increase once phase 2 of the town centre starts, with approximately 16 spaces being lost and replaced by 6.”.
Public transportation: travel assistance cards
For those who have underlying health conditions or for those who are elderly, not being able to access public transport can be painful and dehumanising. Many travel companies offer Journey Assistance cards. Their aim is to make travel easier for those with hidden disabilities. These cards are designed to be shown to the driver.
What About Me?
I have had many experiences where I have struggled to access public transport.
I got the bus to college one day. A mother and her pushchair were in the designated wheelchair space but refused to move once I boarded. There was enough room on the other side of the bus, so we could both have stayed too! But her refusal resulted in my having to get off. I was apparently “disturbing the passengers on the bus.” I arrived at college late that day, resulting in a telling-off and an annoyed mother.
Another experience I had was being lifted off a train to get onto the platform. The communication between stations had been lost, resulting in no ramp. Being lifted off a train by strangers felt very dehumanising as I had to rely on others and felt helpless due to something that shouldn’t have been a problem, to begin with.
Finally, I have had it where I have not been able to access shops in the town centre due to their inadequate layout. This led me to crash into shelves and tables. It was incredibly embarrassing as everyone was looking, some even mumbling.
Everyone should be treated equally and have the opportunity and facilities to live to the same degree. We at Tag encourage you to do research and sign partitions so that those, like us, can move around better. Check out the sites on this page!