On a daily basis I encounter this baffling irony where people see the wheelchair before they see me, the person, yet fail to ‘see’ the ‘needs’ of the wheelchair to access places and venues, hence I felt the urge to address this issue.
I long for the day when I don’t have to call four or five times to make sure a venue is accessible then find out once I am there that their idea of ‘accessible’ is ‘only’ three steps.
I long for the day when I can hail any taxi that is passing by and not ask ‘do you have a ramp?’ Assuming, of course, that the driver would stop when he or she sees my wheelchair.
I dream of the day that I can go and visit my friends at their houses rather than meet outside or at my home, just because not many homes are wheelchair friendly.
I wish a day would come when I can spontaneously go to any cafe, restaurant, theatre, gallery etc without worrying whether there will be access, whether the lift is working and if the place is spacious enough.
I dream of the day when I can see musicals and plays at any theatre regardless of if it is an old theatre or not.
I wonder if the day will come when I can go out with my friends who are wheelchair users and not worry that there are only two allocated spaces for wheelchairs, or that ‘health and safety rules’ forbid more than three wheelchairs in the venue at the time.
I dream of the day that I can travel on an airplane with my wheelchair on board.
I long for the day when transport means transporting you even if you are a wheelchair user.
I wonder what would happen if all the doors opened automatically and were wide enough to fit wheelchairs without me having to wait for someone to open the door, and lifts were big enough to fit my wheelchair.
I wish the day would come when tables and counters are not so high that people can’t see me, so I have to shout.
I long for the day when I drive on the pavement without wondering if there is a drop kerb at the other of the block or whether I need to turn all the way back and use the street.
I long for the day when cars don’t park at the drop kerb leaving me trapped on the pavement unable to get across.
I dream of a day when people don’t stare as I drive my wheelchair down the high street.
I dream of a day when wheelchair access doesn’t mean coming in through a dark alleyway and travelling through the venue’s hidden storage rooms before finally arriving at the guests’ quarters.
I long for the day when I can go to restaurants and enter through the main door and not have to go through the delivery entrance.
I long for the day when all shop entrances are step free and have lifts that do actually work.
I dream of the day when wheelchair access becomes a law that is enforced and practised.
I wonder if the day will come when people and venues fully understand what ‘wheelchair access’ really means.