Wheels in a world of stairs

There are so many moments in my life where I’ve just been extremely frustrated at how I refuse to let my disease restrict me but then my environment does. The only way to see a change around accessibility is to be a part of creating it! I have been in a wheelchair since I was five so I don’t know anything else other than being in a chair.

Accessibility can be defined in so many ways. To different people, it means different things. To me, accessibility means the basic needs of getting around and feeling comfortable with an environment within my wheelchair. With being in a wheelchair comes a lot of extra questions both from people asking questions and me needing to ask questions. Before ever going anywhere we need to call the venue and check that it is accessible. This sounds easier than done because it is often not understood what you are asking or its yes we are accessible. Only to arrive at a couple of stairs, which is often followed up with we can just lift a wheelchair. When it comes to wheelchairs there are some that you can lift but big electronic ones are extremely heavy. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with accessibility it doesn’t only affect me but all my friends and family. It’s extremely difficult to have to check with a friend if their birthday venue for example is accessible. I don’t want to make them feel guilty or have to say I can’t make it sorry. Being in a wheelchair often involves being in the limelight but so often I really don’t want it to be about me!

No one fully understands barriers like accessibility until it becomes a part of their daily life. I’ve seen the change in how accessibility like helping me becomes second nature to the people close to me. A memory that sticks out is my matric dance when mine and my sister’s dates were very gracious about having a ramp each as their accessory for the evening. These portable ramps were the best thing we ever purchased! With accessibility being so close to my heart, I am determined to be a part of creating change so that everyone has a fair opportunity in life for success. We as a society need to create a new normal where accessibility is a given not a plus!

“We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”

Stevie Wonder

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