As National Chairman of a charity that campaigns for accessibility, I am struck by the efforts many make to retain independence in the face of disability. A recent iNews article on the difference between accessibility and independence, reminded me of the gulf between the two and that campaigning for one, we must ensure delivery of the other.
On occasions when staff or equipment are needed to give those living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) accessibility, independence can be a casualty and we are not alone. I recently witnessed valiant attempts at Warrington Central to get a scooter on a packed train to Manchester. Staff ultimately had to arrange alternative transport and did a great job in doing so. But in denying the right to a routine train ride, didn’t their employers ensure independence was lost?
Our charity has set up a trading arm to supply affordable power chairs to help facilitate change for our members, but even this can only take us so far down the road to true accessibility. When the eight out of 10 who can’t access a chair that meets their needs can do so, will we be making some progress. For total independence, we need the means to use our chairs on the transport network and in public areas, combined with a step change in attitudes.
If you need our help or guidance, The British Polio Fellowship can be contacted on 0800 043 1935 or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship