Disability access is an issue close to my heart and has been for a long time.
I have friends who are fellow wheelchair users or use some sort of mobility device, friends with hearing impairments and vision impairments, and other types of chronic conditions.
Therefore, whether it is for my own interest or those of people I know, I cannot help but assess everywhere I go for accessibility!
I don't consciously set out to do it, but somehow I automatically take mental notes whenever I am out and about.
Some of the things people do are stunningly rude, selfish or just plain ignorant. I don't know how many times I have to 'pick my jaw up off the floor' at the things I see. Not all are intentional acts of discrimination. Often there are problems that were unintentional and came from well-meaning people, but they can be significant issues for people with disabilities.
The reason is often plain ignorance. How can a fully able-bodied healthy person truly understand the needs of someone with a disability or chronic illness if they do not live it themselves?
I cannot blame them if they don't understand and I wouldn't expect them to understand.
I am not expecting everyone to know what it is like to walk in my shoes (or ride my wheels!) - but if you really want to know I don't mind you asking.
I would expect certain members of the community to have a good working knowledge and awareness such as council and building planners, health professionals and people from social work backgrounds. It is surprising and distressing when ignorance abounds.
What I do wish to do is educate and point out the common problems my friends and I face with access to premises etc. in the hope that future planning and awareness can make the community safer and more accessible and inclusive for all.
If an issue arises, I prefer to bring it to attention in order to make a positive change. I have also learned to pick and choose my battles carefully.
But it is not all complaints either! I do find reasons to give out bouquets as well as brickbats - when really great service occurs I like to thank people and bring to their attention the specific reason as to why their actions are creating an environment of inclusion.
Just to prove that it won't be a constant complaint rant, I will start my first Access All Areas with a bouquet!