I’m at Lizzy’s house, and I’m cranking on the crank machine in her garage. The garage is adjacent to the house, and in between there are 40 feet of gravel. It’s impossible to propel a wheelchair over gravel, so I have to ask Lizzy to drag me backwards to the garage. If you try to go forwards, the little front wheels of the wheelchair quickly sink into the gravel and I come to a stop, and I can’t get myself that far backwards in deep gravel.

So as I said I’m in the garage, cranking with one arm.

A lovely SUV drives into her ( long gravel ) driveway, up to near where I am, and out jumps a gentleman that I recognise as one of her neighbours. He’s about my age, and Lizzy had previously described him to me as the smartest ( as in cleverest ) man she knows.

He jumps out of his car, and says ( smiling ) to the chap in the garage in the wheelchair using one arm to make a gym machine work ‘ your dog is out on the road !’

I guess he had had several options… really.

He had obviously known who the dog belonged to.

In order of preference maybe..
1 Call/ catch the dog, and bring it to the house
2 Get Lizzy by knocking on her door and telling her about the dog
3 Tell the chap in the wheelchair that Lizzy’s dog was loose, and leave him to resolve it.

This is where the complete disconnect takes place. The not seeing that the chap in the wheelchair has absolutely no chance of first negotiating the 100 feet of gravel to the main road, and then absolutely no chance of catching a loose dog somewhere out on a road, and then absolutely absolutely no chance of leading said dog back to the house. I mean what, I’d have to attach a lead and then wheel through gravel pulling a dog? It’s just beyond impossible.

So if the cleverest man in town can’t weigh up the options and choose one that’ll work for a disabled person… then what chance do the rest of the people have of doing something that works for the wheelchair population?

Over the last 7 years I’ve learned to take with a pinch ( ok a large sack ) of salt, the things I’m told regarding Accessibilty.
Once I attended a talk, having phoned to ask if the building was wheelchair accessible. Having been told by the girl on the phone that it was, I was surprised to see the 12 steps leading to the front door, with no other way in. Other times there’ll be a fairly negotiable front entrance but then a right angled corner and 3 steps down to the kitchen/ dining room where the occasion is being held… but no mention of this in the discussion about me coming. It’s as though people live in places without actually noticing anything about how their houses are constructed.
Without sounding patronising, it’s hard to press people about the ACTUAL layout of their dwellings, in order to get the real story reference the challenges that lie in wait, simply because people who don’t have access challenges just don’t notice steps and obstacles that they can trot up or dodge sideways around….


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