Rather like the BBC’s Frank Gardner, those of us with disabilities are sick of complaining about accessibility. Sadly, Mr Gardner’s experience of being left 100 minutes on a plane due to a lost wheelchair is not unusual, and one many members of The British Polio Fellowship can identify with. Only when someone with Mr Gardner’s profle gets this treatment does this hit the headlines, yet I have lost count of times our charity has spoken out.
It is time to be more Frank about this issue. It is surely possible to come up with a better system of keeping a wheelchair with its owner during flight, rather than treating our mobility and freeedom as a piece of baggage (as we are, sometimes). Members of The British Polio Fellowship with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) can often move from a wheelchair for the duration of a flight, but not all living with disability are so lucky. For them, no chair means no travel.
By 2040, one in seven of us will be over 75 and almost certainly living with a disability or using a wheelchair. A way must be found to offer a better service to wheeelchair users now, or face a crisis in years to come.
Anyone who needs The British Polio Fellowship’s help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call
0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship