Disability

Life with a disability!

Group of wheelchair users chatting. Wheelchair service user group text above

Queen Mary’s Wheelchair Service User Group

Wheelchair Service User Group – The Wheelchair Service at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton have meetings quarterly for their users of the service to help shape how the service is provided. If you are a client of the W.S and would like to be a part of this group, all you have to do is contact me on my Contact Page. The Wheelchair Service is based at Queen Mary’s Hospital and is for people registered with GPs in Wandsworth, Richmond, Kingston, Spelthorne, Merton and Sutton.

Wheelchair Service User Group poster advertising the group meetings and contact details

If you have a GP in the boroughs mentioned above and would like to become a client of this Wheelchair Service, please visit their website for more information: Wheelchair Service website.

The service provides wheelchairs, buggies, pressure distributing cushions and associated special seating for people of all ages with a permanent disability affecting their ability to walk. It is an ‘open access’ service and registered clients can contact therapists for information and advice as necessary. The Wheelchair Service based at Queen Mary’s Hospital is for people registered with GPs in Wandsworth, Richmond, Kingston, Spelthorne, Merton and Sutton.

Drop me a line to find out more. Contact Page

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Train speeding through a station

Wheelchair user travels on a train for 1st time!!

Wheelchair user travels on a train for 1st time – I travelled on a train but will I do it again!! – I have been a full-time wheelchair user for over 15 years and I have NEVER travelled on a train…..Why? Fear!! Fear of being crushed, fear of being trapped in the doors, fear of my wheels getting trapped in the gap, my list of fears were endless! That was until 2 days ago when I faced my fears and went riding on the trains with a lovely man called Alan (@AlansTweets).

I met Alan at Twickenham station, where we were to start our journey. I arrived early so I could take a look around inside, to familiarise myself. Not much to see really, just a few ticket machines and a ticket office, which was closed.

We took the lift down to the platform and asked a member of staff if we could have the ramp for the next train heading to Clapham Junction on the SWR (South Western Railways) line. Not a problem, the train arrived and we got on using the ramp without any incident whatsoever. I have to say, I was extremely surprised as to how much room was available for wheelchair users, both Alan and I (both wheelchair users) had more than enough room to park our chairs.

Wheelchair user travels on a train for 1st time!! - Alan and myself sat in our wheelchairs in the disabled spaces on the train.

During our journey, Alan spoke about his experiences and the pitfalls that can happen. He said, “The key is to stay calm and be polite but firm when dealing with mishaps”. Very good advise indeed! After all, you can’t expect to travel problem free ALL the time, thing are going to go wrong, that’s called life! But, if they do go wrong, just stay calm and deal with it the best you can.

Wheelchair user travels on a train for 1st time!! - Cazbarr sat on the platform in front of a parked train.

We arrived at Clapham Junction where we jumped onto the Underground. Now I hope I have our journey correct below, it was hard taking in all this wonderful new information at once. I was like a big kid taking in all the new sights/sounds etc around me. But I think our journey went something like this:

Twickenham > Clapham Junction – SWR
Underground – Clapham Junction > Waterloo
Underground – Waterloo > Westminister – We popped out to take a look at Big Ben
Underground – Westminister > Victoria
Victoria > Twickenham – SWR

I tried my best to remember everywhere we had been, take in the sights AND remember where & how I would travel in the future and ask for assistance.

I have to say I was not looking forward to travelling on the underground, this was my biggest fear. Crowds, pushing/shoving all the things we all know about the underground. But I have to say, (ok it was approx 2:30 pm) but the underground was pleasantly not as busy as I had expected it to be. Don’t think I would ever attempt to travel in rush hour.

Wheelchair user travels on a train for 1st time!! - Big Ben clock with scaffolding

We arrived at Westminister as I asked if it would be possible to see Big Ben. We went outside the station and low and behold, what was staring me in the face? Big Ben haha, I never realised it sat right outside the station. So, we didn’t have far to go.

My only memories of train travel/underground, was as a child when my Mum would take me to Great Ormand Street hospital and we would have to use those big, rusty, caged lifts where the doors had to be slammed shut and then the big iron gate door had to be slid across. Scary days really (for a toddler). My one attempt at train travel as a late teenager is not one I am going to go into but be assured it probably was the reason I never attempted it again until now!

We then travelled back to Victoria to get on SWR back to Twickenham. Again, no problems at all……..Until we reached Twickenham and no-one turned up with the ramp! I pressed the red button so someone would be alerted to our dilemma. We spoke with whom I believe was a guard, explained our situation and then this announcement came over the train: Link is to a video Alan made of our journey, this is the announcement: https://twitter.com/i/status/1238576905135296514

Well, you can imagine how upset we both were over this. I think Alan was going to email about this. It was unfortunate that this had to be the one lip in our whole journey. Everything went lovely and smooth without any problems and then that happened!!

Will I do it again? Damn right I will. I can’t thank Alan and wife enough for taking time out of their busy schedule to take me on the train and show me how easy it can actually be…..Thank you to both of you.

Any questions, why not drop me a line using my Contact Page.

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Hands holding a piece of paper with VAT at the top and coins and paper money in the background

Are You VAT Exempt?

Did you know, as a disabled person, you may be exempt from having to pay VAT on certain items?? Neither did I!! According to Gov.uk website:

If you’re disabled you’ll generally have to pay VAT on the things you buy, but VAT relief is available on a limited range of goods and services for disabled people.

VAT relief that may be available if you’re buying goods because of your disability.

Source: Gov.uk

You’ll only be able to have eligible goods VAT-free if you’re chronically sick or disabled and the goods are for your personal or domestic use. You do not need to be registered disabled or eligible for any other benefit to qualify for VAT-free goods.

Goods you can buy VAT-free

This section has information on the goods you can buy VAT-free because of your disability including:

  • medical and surgical appliances
  • invalid wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • equipment to aid the hard of hearing, and low vision aids
  • specialist beds, chair and stair lifts, rise and recline chairs and other lifting equipment and sanitary devices
  • goods that have been designed solely for disabled people
  • computer equipment
  • emergency alarm call systems
  • boats
  • parts and accessories


You can hire or lease eligible goods VAT-free if you’re disabled.

Your retailer or other supplier is responsible for checking if the goods are eligible to sell VAT-free.

Medical and surgical appliances

You’ll not have to pay VAT when you buy medical or surgical appliances that are designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or severe injury such as amputation, rheumatoid arthritis, learning difficulties or blindness.

Appliances that can be bought VAT-free include:

  • invalid wheelchairs
  • certain types of mobility scooters
  • leg braces
  • neck collars
  • oxygen concentrators
  • specialist clothing
  • specialist footwear
  • wigs

Items that you cannot buy VAT-free include bandages, plasters or other wound dressings and dentures (unless you buy them from a dentist or other dental care professional).

For full information, please visit: www.gov.uk

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Four red lines with pictures of gir using plastic straw, changing places toilet, blue badge, CEA card and Reserved parking sign

Are Disabled People Asking Too Much??

Disabled people know only too well how hard our lives are on a day-to-day basis. This is before we even leave our own homes. So, is it any wonder we fight for changes that will improve our daily living? Things like:

  • Blue Badge Parking
  • Plastic Straws
  • Changing Places
  • Accessibility
  • PIP

The list truly is endless of the battles we face every single day of our lives.

All of these things help us be as independent as possible and live as best we can, but…………I have read some disabled people’s comments on social media that have me thinking are we becoming an expectant lot of people?

Example 1: A woman was moaning about not being able to use a discount voucher she received for her birthday, as she was already in receipt of a company/venue discount due to being disabled.

So she was expecting to be discounted twice??? Was it really unfair of the company/venue to decline her birthday discount? Turn the tables around……Is it unfair she gets a permanent discount where other users do not??

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the company/venue and no more information was given regarding the circumstances.

Example 2: Another disabled person was moaning at the fact that they had to pay in a car park even though they had a blue badge.

According to The Blue Badge scheme: rights and responsibilities in England, found on the Gov.uk website:

A Blue Badge will help you to park close to your destination, either as a passenger or driver.

The badge is intended for on-street parking only.

Off-street car parks, such as those provided by shopping centres, hospitals or supermarkets are covered by separate rules.

These separate rules say:

Off-street car parks (such as supermarket, hospital or local council car parks)
Off-street car park operators should provide parking spaces for disabled people. However, it is up to the car park owner to decide whether badge holders can park free of charge.

Do not assume you can always park for free.

  1. The blue badge is not a permit for FREE parking everywhere and automatically!!
  2. If one reads the information supplied, one would not look like a tit complaining about something that is not a given right!!!

Yes, I am fully aware of how expensive life as a disabled person is and yes, of course, every bit of help is gratefully received but…….I can’t help feeling that some, not all, disabled people want the sun, moon AND stars!!

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Big street sign with Las Vegas all lit up

Vegas Wheelchair

My long-awaited Vegas trip is approaching fast where I will be rocking the night away with Billy Idol. In preparation for this, I have bought black and red velvet material, lace trimmings and gold chains. No, not for anything kinky lol It’s to dress up my electric wheelchair, something I have done before.

I’m fed up that companies won’t recognise that disabled people (wheelchair users) have personalities and some of us wish to convey our personality through our chairs. After all, my wheelchair is an extension of me is it not? Plain black is not my style….As you will see.

So, what do you think? I have to say a BIG thank you to my hubby who slaved over the sewing machine for many days to make these covers for me. Something I could not have achieved without him.

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Empty wheelchair space on a public bus

Wheelchair Space on Buses – Row Continues!

Even after a landmark court case win, disabled people are seemingly still fighting for the wheelchair space WE fought to have implemented on buses!!

Quote: In February 2012, Doug Paulley, a wheelchair user, tried to board a FirstGroup bus from Wetherby to Leeds. The wheelchair space was being used by a mother with a pushchair and a sleeping child. She refused the driver’s request to move or fold the pushchair and so the driver told Mr Paulley he could not board the bus.

Mr Paulley successfully sued FirstGroup at Leeds County Court for unlawful discrimination against him due to his disability, but this was later overturned on appeal. The case was then heard by the Supreme Court, which has given its final verdict today. The Commission has supported Mr Paulley at the Court of Appeal, and at the Supreme Court.

David Isaac added:

“Public transport is essential for disabled people to live independently, yet bus companies have not made it easy for this to happen. This is a victory for disabled people’s rights. The success of this case means bus companies will have to end ‘first come, first served’ polices, increasing peace of mind for disabled people.

“This has been about correcting a confusing policy which has caused untold problems for disabled people.

“For years, wheelchair users have been deterred from using vital public transport links because they could not be sure they will be able to get on. Today’s judgment will make that easier.” – Source: EHRC – David Isaac said Today’s judgment will make that easier……How? The law is still not specific enough about the wheelchair space! It should be made a law that buggies can use the space but when needed by a wheelchair user, they MUST move or fold down their buggy and if they refuse, they vacate the bus and wait for the next one. I mean, parents don’t mind that happening to us at present, so I say equality is the way the go!! Let them know what it’s like to sit in the pouring rain on a freezing cold winters day being refused access to bus after bus because parents don’t want to move their buggies. Now before I’m lynched, I know full well that there are many parents only too happy to move, I thank each and every one of you for this. It is the ignorant, self-important ones I’m on about. They just turn their heads and completely ignore everyone!!

The signs on the bus say:
“Priority wheelchair area – This space is reserved for a wheelchair – The wheelchair must be placed facing forwards resting against the support or backrest with the brakes on. – Please give up this space for a wheelchair user.

Baby Buggies – Buggies can use this area if it is not needed by a wheelchair user – Please move out of the wheelchair priority area if necessary. – Buggies may need to be folded a busy times.

So what part of PRIORITY WHEELCHAIR AREA – This space is RESERVED – Please give up this space for a wheelchair user. – Buggies can use this area IF IT IS NOT needed by a wheelchair user are people not understanding?? The sign seems very cut and dry to me!!

If you went to a restaurant and sat at a table marked “Reserved”, you would be moved by a member of staff, yes? So why can’t bus drivers/companies make buggies move from this “Reserved” area?? It really isn’t rocket science!!

TFL say: Buggy users and other passengers may use the wheelchair space, however if a wheelchair user wants to board the bus, other passengers and buggy users will be asked to vacate the space or fold their buggies.

On many buses the space is big enough for the wheelchair and buggy to share, but the wheelchair user does take priority and must be correctly positioned in order to travel safely. In some circumstances buggy users may be asked to fold their buggies and wherever possible fold their pram.

Yeah right!!!

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Greggs Logo - Blue background 4 yellow dots, 2 top 2 below, the word greggs in white to the right

Greggs – Hounslow – Disabled toilet – Free for all!

Having lunch with a friend in Greggs Cafe in Hounslow yesterday, I noticed several customers trying to get upstairs to use the toilets. The door leading to the stairs was locked. Only staff were using the door using a code on the door lock.

I asked a member of staff as to why the door was kept locked. I was told it was because the door was broken. (Didn’t look broken to me as the staff seemed quite capable of using it). This member went on to say how it was ok as customers could use the other toilet…….The DISABLED toilet!!! NO, IT’S NOT OK!!!!!

I have IBS, my stomach could turn at a moments notice and I need to rush to the toilet……Oh but I can’t use the toilet as one of your abled customers is using the DISABLED toilet because Greggs have never heard of a fecking DOOR STOP!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on Greggs, pull you god damn socks up!!!!!!!

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Fanned out 5 pound notes with Money not good for dexterity problems

Is money slipping through your fingers?

24/3/19

I think we’re all familiar with the new money that has been circulating for some time now. These new £5, £10, £20 pound notes are somewhat fiddly buggers, to say the least. If like me, you suffer from dexterity problems, you will understand what I am about to tell you.

I am constantly dropping these notes due to the shiny surface they have, especially when against other notes, they seem to just slip right out of one’s hand! Folding them is near impossible too, they just bounce right back at you and fly all over the damn place. I believe they were designed not to be able to be folded. No, I have no ideas either. I think it was something to do with maybe keeping them in good condition for longer.

The idea they can not tear is obviously a good one. Who hasn’t torn their money by accident! But, because of this, I believe this design is what causes them to be so shiny.

I can’t help but wonder who actually thinks up these ideas and how much research/testing goes into such a major decision. Who is consulted in deciding if these things are suitable? Clearly not the right sort of people!

Do you have problems using the new money? Let me know in the comments below.

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Stacked shopping baskets in blue, red and green colours

Is Your Shopping Basket Accessible?

My local Asda only offers the wheelie baskets shown here:

I suppose under normal circumstances, these would do nicely but what if you’re in a wheelchair?  I find these impossible to use for a few reasons:  

  1. Not easy to steer around the store and manoeuvre your own chair.
  2. When at checkout, I’m unable to reach into the basket as it sits on the floor.
  3. Or they are too big and clumsy to put on your lap.


So I contacted Asda via Twitter and to my surprise, they responded: “Thank you for getting back to us! The store manager has advised as they are only a supermarket they only get wheely baskets, however, he has put in a request for the regular baskets! Fingers crossed the baskets will be available soon”. 

This is great if it happens!  I will keep you updated.

One thing bugs me though in their reply.  They say because they are only a supermarket they get wheely baskets???  Is that not what supermarkets do??  Supply shopping baskets for their customers??

***UPDATE*** 23/3/19

This store now have many baskets that I can use on my lap……..Result!!!!

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Woman shaded all in black holding up two dresses, one pink, one black

Fashion Sitting Down!

Someone on Twitter was talking about having some mannequins sitting down in fashion shops to help people in wheelchairs see how clothing would look while in a sitting position.

I personally love this idea and feel it would be a massive leap forward in the fashion industry.  I have bought too many bits of clothing and found them to look completely different in a sitting position as they do in a standing position.  There are many factors a wheelchair user has to take into account when purchasing clothing:

  • Trousers – How high do they come up the back, are they hipsters?  Are they buttoned/zipped/elastic waist – Some of us can only wear elasticated waist.
  • Skirts – Will the hem hang too far down and catch on my wheels?
  • Sleeves – Are they going to get destroyed by my wheels too quickly?

So, to be able to answer these questions before purchasing an item of clothing, taking it home to try it on (as not all of us are capable of using the changing rooms) then find it’s no good and have to make another trip back to the shop to return said item, would be a massive achievement!!

Yes, obviously there are some mannequins that are sitting down but, is there enough?  I don’t think there is.  We need these to be commonplace, like the wheelchair.

Don’t you agree??

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Black wheelchair with a red colour frame

I Fake my Disability??

There is a culture in today’s world that the majority of disabled people are faking it!  Contrary to belief and we know who started the rumour, (yes the government, so they can condone their actions regarding austerity, ATOS, PIP assessments, UC etc all of which were designed to fail, except austerity of course).  Fakers are few and far between!  Disabled parking bay abusers are a much more common daily occurrence but that doesn’t cost the government money, so of no interest to change or enforce.

The media have contributed to this culture by seemingly creating two types of disabled people: inspirational/sporting “look what they can do”, or lying scroungers.  So if I can’t partake in sport/Olympics and represent my country, I must be a faker?  This is the problem!  What people are forgetting is that our Olympians are sponsored by many different companies, their equipment, (wheelchairs, artificial limbs etc) cost thousands and thousands of pounds to help them achieve their goals.  This IS why they can do what they do, plus the years and years of training they do!!  If you are Joe Bloggs, believe me, you are given what you’re given and made feel you should be grateful for that much.  My husband who was also born with his disability wears an artificial leg, he went to his GP to ask him to sign the form necessary to apply for a freedom pass, the GP responded by saying “how can you class yourself disabled when we have Olympians with artificial limbs”?  Needless to say, he didn’t sign the form!!!!  So when up against attitudes like that, why would anyone want to FAKE being disabled?

Able-bodied people will never & can never understand why we (disable people) NEED the things we fight for, like, accessibility, adapted housing, barriers removed, attitudes changed.  How can they?  They don’t have to live the life we live.  They are blessed with being able to take most things we HAVE to fight for, for granted!!  For example, let’s take something simple:  Busses:  Disabled people fought for many many years to get the wheelchair space implemented, now everyone wants to use it.  Some parents with buggies will not move from that space if a wheelchair user needs it, believing it is their RIGHT to stay put!!  Well let’s see now, the sign on the busses says what exactly:

Salesman selling wheelchair to abled explaining great parking and sympathy

“Should a wheelchair user wish to use this space, please move to another part of the bus”.  So when I am left again feeling downtrodden, embarrassed, a burden, angry, wet & cold, yes I fake my disability.  So, when it’s obviously clear, you are asked to move, this self-righteous attitude some of you have adopted is quite obnoxious!  At the end of the day, you CAN take your child out of the buggy, fold said buggy and move, I CAN’T get out of my wheelchair and sit on a seat and fold my chair, no matter how much I would love to be able to do that.

The hate & personal attacks shown to disabled people is fed by the fact you are made to believe we are receiving special treatment or an added extra.  This then makes you believe we must be faking it to get said treatment.  So…………

When I’m having to have another painful procedure to unblock my catheter that’s caused another urinary infection, or radio-frequency facet joint injections into my spine to try to alleviate my pain, I mean, there’s no guarantee they are going to work!

I am suffering the terrible side effects of the medication I have to take just to keep me alive.

Losing friends because they have no idea what it is like to live my life and have no patience.

Stuck in bed again because I’m in too much pain to be able to move.

Losing the career I love because my employer sacked me due to the amount of sick time I have to take.

The list goes on and on and on!!!

Just because I have a smile on my face, doesn’t mean I’m ok!!

All the stuff disabled people fight for can take many years to get changed or implemented and most are not even achieved.  All we want is to have the same quality of life most able-bodied people take for granted.  The trouble is, the things we fight for often don’t even help as disabled people are not listened to so the entity making the changes rarely ever get it right.  You believe it is special treatment and extra because something has to be an add-on feature because, in the structure of life, disabled people are forgotten about.

YES, I FAKE MY DISABILITY!!!!!!!!

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Sample image of the disabled blue badge

Blue Badge is Changing!

The blue badge disabled parking scheme is undergoing its biggest shake-up since it was introduced in 1970.  Previously, local authorities could not exclude those with hidden disabilities, but granting permission was very much open to interpretation. The changes now give councils clearer guidelines.  Last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that from 2019, people with hidden disabilities will be granted access to the scheme too.  Read the full story here.

According to the Citizen Advice Bureaux:  

If you’re disabled or have a health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge. 

You can also apply for a badge if you care for a child with a health condition. 

Who can get a Blue Badge 

You’re automatically eligible for a Blue Badge if you:

  • are registered as blind
  • get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and scored 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ area of your assessment – check your decision letter if you’re not sure
  • get War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement 
  • received a lump sum payment as part of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (tariffs 1 to 8), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability

If you’re not automatically eligible

It’s worth applying as you might still be able to get a badge. You’ll have to fill in an extra part of the application to show why you need one. 

You should do this if:

  • you have problems walking that is permanent, or that your doctor says are likely to last at least a year
  • you can’t use your arms
  • you’re applying on behalf of a child aged over 2 who has problems walking, or a child under 3 who needs to be close to a vehicle because of a health condition

Source:  Citizen Advice Bureaux 

This raises a few questions:

  1. Will the councils, private car parks, hospitals, high streets etc. increase the amount of disabled parking bays to accommodate all the new users?
  2. Will councils tackle Blue Badge abuse that happens, more effectively?
  3. If the blue badge is now open to people with all disabilities, how will this affect people with mobility conditions and people who need the extra space for wheelchairs?

We all know how difficult it is to find an empty disabled parking bay as it is.  Once this change takes effect next year, can you imagine just how much harder this will become?  I always believed blue badges were for people who had mobility disabilities.  The wider bays were/are for people who need the extra space to be able to get into and out of their cars, for wheelchairs, straightening callipers or something else.  Am I right to assume that everybody with a disability NEEDS extra space around their car?  So, if not, why not introduce more disabled bays the same width as other bays, for those that don’t need the extra space?

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BBC radio Wales written on a red background

My First radio interview!

24/10/2018  

BBC Radio Wales asked if I would give my thoughts regarding a new scheme being brought to government, live on air.  The scheme would be a rating system, similar to the food rating scheme, where businesses are given a rating of how accessible they are.  As you can imagine, I was extremely excited to have been asked, so I sorted out all this information I wanted to speak about and even made notes to remind myself as the interview was going outlive.  I was a little disappointed as I felt the questions asked, were a little flat and didn’t allow for me to talk about the scheme very well but, overall, as my first ever LIVE radio interview, I felt it could have been better.  I need to learn how to put myself across better in future.  Practice makes perfect!

The scheme itself sounds like a very positive move if given the go-ahead.  It will give disabled people the opportunity to see “at-a-glance” how accessible a service provider actually is.  The higher the score, the better the access.  Disabled people like myself do so much pre-planning before going out their front door.  I hate having to go anywhere new, it sets off my anxiety no end.  I worry about so much that could go wrong.  A scheme of this nature would be so beneficial, especially if it carried over onto service provider’s websites.  Imagine how much easier it would be to find accessible places!!

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Inside an aeroplane toilet to show how small they are.

Disabled? Could you use an aeroplane toilet?

16/1/19

Flying, toilets, disability!  Not something airlines think of going together. 

I’m due to travel on an aeroplane later in the year and one of my fears among many is what if I can’t use the toilet.  My flight is 11 hours long, I can’t hold myself all that time!  Ironically, another lady on Twitter is also flying in the near future and was asking if anyone knew how she could find the dimensions of the toilet on the type of plane she will be flying on. This gave me the perfect opportunity to find out how one would go about searching the dimensions of an aeroplane’s toilet.

I contacted the lady on Twitter and asked if I could help, she was pleased for any help.  So I got in touch with the airline she was flying with on her behalf, via email and Facebook, I even contacted Boeing themselves. I’ve heard back from the airline saying they are in communications with the lady on Twitter.  Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed that the airline does not have the information she requested, so the lady on Twitter is hoping cabin crew will take the dimensions and pass them on to her.  I’ve heard nothing from Boeing.  So far, trying to research this information is practically impossible.  Doesn’t give me much hope for when I need the same info from whoever I’ll be flying with!

As disabled people are flying at present,

  • Should information of this nature not be readily available?
  • Why is it so difficult to obtain this kind of information directly from the airlines?
  • Do airlines not have a dedicated department that could deal with these types of requests?

Something all airlines should be asking themselves and then answering publically.

Now we all understand the business concept of making money but when you are clearly making changes that exclude sections of society because of said business concept, surely this can be deemed as discrimination?  So why, are these airlines allowed to not only continue this behaviour but actually make the situation worse?  I’ll tell you why, because disabled people are more hassle than they are worth!!!  Too much effort needs to go into getting disabled people onto the planes.  Airlines are doing all they can to discourage disabled people from flying!!!  Oh and it’s not just disabled people, large people also are affected.  People who may need 2 seats instead of 1, who also wouldn’t be able to small toilets.  So why is there not more public outrage??  I’m baffled!!

What a coincidence, as I’m typing this blog, the lady on Twitter has just got back to me saying she went into the airport and spoke with the airline there and got the information she needed.  Why should she have had to have done that?  Why could the airline give her the info over email?

See, being disabled cost time/money and effort to get the simplest of tasks accomplished!!!!

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Argos self checkout machines too high

Argos say “Good height for wheelchair users”.

26/11/18 – Argos self-checkout machines too high for wheelchair users.

Argos self checkout machines too high

So I emailed Argos regarding their recently installed self-checkout machines.

This is what Argos had to say,”

I know your concern was about the height of the Quick Pay Kiosks. Having investigated further, it seems that the design of the kiosks is historic and none of the current designers know where the guidance was consulted at the time.

We are however aiming to ensure that new designs are more inclusive and I am working closely with the Store Format teams to ensure moving forward this is the case. We are also trialling other technology where you can browse for products and pay on the same terminal and these are more accessible. However, there will always be aspects of Argos stores that are not accessible for every customer, and when it occurs, our colleagues are always happy to assist (which is of course something Argos is required to do under the Equality Act 2010)”.

Hmm, she says the new terminals where you can browse and pay (presumably the ones pictured above) are more accessible.  Not quite sure about that!

I’m in a pretty high seated wheelchair and you can see below, the touchscreens are too high for me to use, it is above my head!  For a disabled person like myself who is unable to raise their arms past chest level and doesn’t have very good dexterity, this becomes an impossible task.  Now, remember, you have to pump in numbers or the name of the item you wish to browse/pay for on this screen.  Gonna take some time I reckon!  Yes indeed, staff may be required to assist under the EA 2010 but try finding one in the Hounslow branch! 

Cazbarr sat next to Argos self checkout machines

Argos said in a further email, replying to my email with a few suggestions:

“I went around one of our stores on Friday in a wheelchair (before your email came through) just to try to get a view of the barriers in store for wheelchair users, albeit it was the Liverpool Belle Vale store that has just been refitted with the Pay at Browse device. While it is a good height for a wheelchair user, the screen while lower than the kiosk that you mentioned, may well present an issue to a user who can’t reach higher than chest level. We will need to give some thought to how we make sure a wheelchair user can get close enough to the screen e.g. get their knees under the desk and still have the screen and the pay point within easy reach”.

Now I’m really not sure what machines she is talking about as it seems she has mentioned several.  As she mentioned the Liverpool branch has just been refitted with the new machines, I can only assume she is indeed talking about the ones pictured above.  Now, this being the case, how on earth can it be concluded these are a good height for wheelchairs??  You would definitely need to reach up past your head.  

The plus side is, Argos haven’t completely disregarded my comments or even my suggestions.  They do say they will give some thought on how to improve things, this is definitely a plus for Argos.

So now the waiting game and in the meantime, I still can’t go shopping independently!!!! 

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

***UPDATE*** 27/11/19 – Argos self-checkout machines too high for wheelchair users.

Lowered counter with new argos self checkout machines

Argos have been true to their word!! They have indeed installed new LOWER machines in their Hounslow store. I was in the store last week and found these lowered machines to be much easier to use. Unfortunately, the machine at the lowered counter meant for wheelchair users wasn’t working. (I did report this).

The only slight issue is the fact if you’re not careful, you could very well hit your knees on the bottom of the machine. Other than that though, I say, good job Argos.

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Purple Tuesday £249 bn written in white against a purple square

Purple Tuesday, is it worth it?

14/11/18

Purple Tuesday has been and gone!  Did you go shopping?  Or did you stay at home because of the rumours that the DWP will be given CCTV footage so they can use it against claimants?  Yes, that’s right CCTV has in the past been given to the DWP for this purpose and guess who from?  Sainsbury’s!!

According to Disability News, they say:  

“Purple, the social enterprise formerly known as Essex Coalition of Disabled People, has secured the support of DWP for next week’s Purple Tuesday event but has denied that there is any “hidden agenda”.

Tuesday’s (13 November) event has also secured at least 14 high-profile partners, including retailers M&S, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Argos, and shopping centre owners such as intu and Landsec.

One of the partners, intu – which owns and runs shopping centres across the country – today (Thursday) refused to promise not to pass CCTV footage from the event to DWP, while Sainsbury’s has refused to answer questions.

But Disability Labour, which represents disabled people who are members of the Labour party – but is independent of the party itself – has called for a boycott of the event.

It has raised fears that those companies taking part could pass CCTV pictures from the day to DWP to use against disabled people who have made benefit claims.

It highlighted how Sainsbury’s has previously admitted that it occasionally passes CCTV pictures to DWP”.


Scary stuff that this can happen and the fact companies are willing to abuse their use of CCTV so willingly and feel they don’t have to “comment” on that fact, or be accountable!!!  I’m not going to debate about whether or not CCTV is good or bad but I never liked the fact that it was forced onto us, the public without consent or consultation.

So the purpose of Purple Tuesday was what exactly?  If you visit the Purple Tuesday website, this is what they say:  “The aim of Purple Tuesday is to make customer-facing businesses more aware of these opportunities and challenges and inspire them to make changes to improve the disabled customer experience over the long term”. Their slogan:  The UK’s first accessible shopping day!  Is in itself very confusing.  It suggests it is the very first day all retailers are going to be accessible!!  Eerr….No!  So straight away it is misleading.  PT was meant to highlight the difficulties disabled people have while out shopping and retailers were supposed to make a pledge to change at least one thing to help with accessibility.  Will it work?  I doubt that very much.  It was one day, on the quietest day of the shopping week.  Once the event is over, we will be forgotten again!  Over the next few days, I intend to go to my local high street & shopping centre and ask how they thought the event went.  I bet quite a lot of retailers will ask, what event was that?

A few retailers have been mentioned that are supporting PT but no real information regarding as to what these retailers plan to change or if they will be followed up to see if any changes have been made?  Has an audit been done to see what changes needed to be made to compare to any changes that may or may not have been done??

I hate to be so downhearted about this event because if it works, it will be a milestone movement for disabled people.  I, unfortunately, don’t believe this event will make the slightest change whatsoever.  I’ve had to contact the same company twice regarding access issues, so what does that tell you about how serious retailers are about accessibility?

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Instagram logo - Instagram ignores plea to be accessible for disabled users!

Instagram ignores pleas to be accessible to all!

My disability makes using a mobile phone difficult, so when a company has several versions of their app, (meaning computer, table and phone) but only has certain features available on the mobile version, it frustrates me!!  I want to use their product but I can’t due to inaccessibility.  What frustrates me even more, is when you try to contact said company and they blank you!!

Take Instagram, to be able to upload pictures to your account, you have to be using the mobile version.  There is nowhere that I can find to be able to do this on the computer version.  

Trying to find the contact us on their website is impossible. I’ve tried contacting Instagram via Twitter but seemingly I’ve faced a brick wall. So now I must look for other avenues, I feel this will not be an easy task, after all, I don’t want to come across as someone who is hounding Instagram.  Not yet anyway.

As I’m sure you already know, I know a little about web designing, therefore, I know it’s pretty normal procedure that all features stories articles etc are on the computer version, then you scale-down the amount of information available for the tablet version, again, this is done for the mobile version. some web designers do it the other way round, start with the mobile version and work up to the computer desktop version. either way, it is normal to find everything on the desktop version and less on a mobile version. So you can imagine my surprise and frustration when I find I can’t upload any pictures using the desktop version.

Now before anyone bangs on about how Instagram is an app and not a website, the mobile version may well be an app (not my area of expertise) but the desktop version is a website. Therefore, there is no reason this website cannot be fully accessible and inclusive.

So, it would seem that my next project, is to get Instagram to make their website more accessible for disabled people.

Worthwhile bookmarking my website if you would like to find out if I have managed to get Instagram to make their website more inclusive.

I will keep you up-to-date!!

UPDATE  21/7/18

It would seem Instagram doesn’t like my tweets saying they are ignoring my pleas to be more inclusive for disabled people.  Every time I post this image in my tweet with @instagram:

Instagram logo - text - Instagram ignores pleas to be accessible for disabled users!

It doesn’t show up on my profile page, feed page or any of my followers feed.  Yes, I have had this confirmed by one of my followers.  So, have Instagram found a way to have my tweets blocked?  Is it a glitch….(3 times over) I posted it 3 times and none are showing up??  I don’t know enough about Twitter to know if this is possible but by god, how sneaky it would be of them if this is what they have done……..Mind you, they are a Facebook company, so I suppose anything is possible hey!

Now, let’s be clear here, all my other tweets are showing up, just the ones where I @Instagram in my tweets, I have just put this to the test.  So this would suggest they have seen my post about not being accessible and this is their response…..Lovely!!!  Think it’s time to take the matter further now.

Have you had any issues? Let me know. Contact Me.

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Changing places toilet with changing bed with toilet and hoist

Is it really discrimination?

An 11-year-old boy is suing a theme park for not having a changing places toilet.  Now I can see both sides of the coin here.  The story goes:

On one side, you have the parents saying their son should be able to enjoy a day out like any other 11 year old and be able to use the toilet when needed.  Of course, I totally agree.  They explained to the theme park how their son requires a “changing places” toilet.  They also explained at present, to be able to visit the theme park, they must hire a mobiloo to enable their son the day out he so loves to have.

On the other side:

The theme park has said they take inclusivity very serious and always look for feedback from disabled people to make sure what they are doing is right.  Also, in light of the complaint from this lads parents, the park has supplied a mobile hoist and a changing bed in one of their large disabled toilets.

The parents have come back to the theme park saying this is not good enough as it does not meet their son’s needs.

Ok, maybe I’m just plain ignorant here but, am I right in saying a “changing places” toilet has a hoist, changing bed, toilet and sink??  Does the theme park’s toilet have a hoist, changing bed, toilet and sink??  If so, then how come it doesn’t meet their son’s needs???  I’m sure someone out there will have great pleasure in enlightening me!!

So now, the parents are suing the theme park for discrimination??  Do they actually have a case??  Do you think the park has made reasonable adjustments??

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