disabled

Non-disabled person standing between two wheelchair users asking "what's wrong with you?"

When I’m Asked What’s Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence?

When I’m Asked What’s Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence? As a disabled person myself and a full-time wheelchair user, I am often asked by complete strangers, “what is wrong with you?”. Some people take great offence at this, yet these same people bang on about how ignorant ableds are! Can ableds win?

What’s Wrong With You?

I was on holiday last year and I experienced good and bad attitudes from non-disabled people.

When I'm Asked What's Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence? - Front of cruise ship with blue interior lights

The good side (in my opinion): It was at the end of a wonderful ’80s themed night aboard a ship I was cruising on with my family (read my review). We were finishing our drinks after dancing the night away to all the popular 80’s music when the lady sat at the next table asked me “do you mind me asking what is wrong with you?”. I replied, “no, of course not”. I genuinely didn’t mind.

I went on to explain how I was born with my disability Arthrogryposis, how this affects my daily life and how my husband is my carer etc. etc. She seemed genuinely interested and even asked more questions when she didn’t understand something. She was amazed when I spoke of the barriers disabled people face on a daily basis by society/buildings etc. I explained this was why I loved cruising, as it was one of the more accessible holidays available to me. She couldn’t understand why access wasn’t better.

I spoke for quite a while, not realising how passionate I had become explaining why I do the things I do and how my disability affects my outlook on life. So I wrapped things up and said goodnight.

The bad side: (again on our cruise, we (my family) had a great but tiring day at port this particular day. I was making my way back to my cabin and while in the lift alone, this lady got on at another floor and immediately starting complaining to me how sore her feet were and how she had walked and walked and walked the whole day. How she couldn’t wait to take her shoes off and rest her poor feet. Now maybe it was because I was tired but all I wanted to shout at her was “at least you bloody well have legs that you can use to walk and walk and walk!”.

Should I Get Offended?

Should I get offended? I suppose this question can’t really be answered with a simple yes or no. It boils down to the individual’s perception of they deem to be offensive, the same way as asking “did you find that joke funny?”. Each person has their own idea of what is funny, the same way as each individual find some things offensive while others do not. Me personally, I’m not offended if someone genuinely wants to know. But that’s the key for me if the person asking is genuine!

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Offend: To irritate, annoy, or anger; – Cause resentful displeasure in: – To affect (the sense, taste, etc.) disagreeably. – To hurt or cause pain to.

I kinda get it when disabled people say how rude and personal this is but, in all fairness, you can decide how personal your answer will be…..Can you not? I can’t help but feel that some disabled people want their cake and eat it. Some go on and on about how ableds are so uneducated and ignorant towards disability, yet when they take the time to ask you about it, you go all offended and say how rude of them?

When I'm Asked What's Wrong With You?:  Should I Take Offence?  -  Red no entry sign over a blue shaped wheelchair user

I love someone wanting to take time out of their day, holiday, shopping or whatever to ask me about my disability. I hope that I am contributing to helping people better understand disability (well mine anyway), so they may pass this on or prevent discrimination in the future.

Of course, I think it’s fairly easy to know if someone is being false or malicious in their questioning and yes, I totally agree they should not be entertained!

Disability Assumptions

One of the things I do get offended by is the fact my husband wears an artificial left leg and normally the first thing strangers assume is that he has been in the forces and lost his leg. They seem to forget that he may have been born with a disability. I mean, there is no other way to have an artificial limb, is there!!

The other is that I have polio. When I used to walk with my calipers, 90% of people (especially minicab drivers) always assumed I had polio. (Not sure if this was anything to do with a common charity box outside a lot of shops back then that was a young boy wearing one calliper on his leg). I would then have to correct them and explain what Arthrogryposis was 🙂

To me, assumptions are more offensive than just asking me “what’s wrong with you”. I am always happy to take the time to talk to anyone wishing to be educated.

Conclusion

If you want to know about my disability, I will always do my best to explain it to you, provided you are genuinely interested. I understand how difficult and uncomfortable it might be for some, to talk to disabled people. People are only human at the end of the day and are scared of “different”.

I saw a video some time ago where a wheelchair user (male) sat in a very popular area (can’t remember where now), sat with a cardboard sign saying people could ask him anything about his disability. I have often thought of doing this myself. I am intrigued as to what people would ask me.

In my opinion, disabled people who complain and give out about how rude ableds are for wanting to know about their disability don’t have the right to complain and moan about the same ableds of being ignorant or uneducated!

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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White circle of petals next to the word Motability on a blue background

Disabled People: Brand New Car Every Three Years!

Disabled people: Brand New Car Every Three Years! The biggest misconception is that disabled people get a brand new car for free. Not true! The Motability Scheme helps disabled people in receipt of the higher rate mobility allowance by exchanging this allowance to lease a new affordable car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair.

Motability

In a nutshell, anyone in receipt of the higher rate mobility allowance (such as the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance) can use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle from Motability. The lease is normally for three years and five years for a WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle).

Motability’s standard lease takes care of running costs such as insurance for up to three named drivers (this doesn’t have to be you), servicing, maintenance, breakdown cover and tyre and windscreen repair and replacement. All you need to do is add fuel and go.

Misconception

I’ve had it said to me many many times that it must be so good getting a brand new car every couple of years for free! Yeah, I suppose it would be great but this is just not the case. The look on those people’s faces when I explain that’s not the case and I actually pay for my car on a monthly basis is a cross between shock and disbelief.

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The look on those people’s faces when I explain that’s not the case and I actually pay for my car on a monthly basis is a cross between shock and disbelief.

I give up the higher rate of my mobility component so I may have a car to allow me my independence, rather than having to depend on other people to get my medication, shopping etc. When my son was school age, I was able to take him and pick him up from school. This was paramount to me as he was being bullied at school and suffered terrible anxiety.

Ford Tourneo WAV - Disabled people:  Brand New Car Every Three Years!
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

I became a full-time wheelchair user many years ago, not being able to put my own electric wheelchair in our car and drive off somewhere, means I can longer go out on my own. Therefore I am now in the process of applying for WAV (I will write about my experience, once I have received my car).

Further Information

For a full breakdown of who is eligible, how to apply and more help, check out Motability’s website.

If you want me to blog about a specific subject, or just to say hi, please don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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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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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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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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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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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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Cazbarr written in black with a large pink C over the top

Welcome to Cazbarr!

Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.  It took me some time to decide whether or not to create it.  I have to say, there were a few up’s & down’s in the making of my site.

I have more to add in the coming months, so why not bookmark me, or leave a comment and let me know what you think 🙂  Obviously if there is anything you wish to know or discuss, please do drop me a line.

I have had to re-create my website from scratch due to Adobe getting rid of their website builder programme, which I had been using. With this in mind, some of my blogs will have 2 different dates, one when I re-created the blog here on this site and another, from when I created it on my previous website.

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