Reading of the experience of Deborah Fairclough, the blind woman from Crosspool who fell from a train, doesn’t surprise me. We live in a world designed by able-bodied men for able-bodied men. From the huge steps down from trains to the lack of ramps in hilly cities, such as Sheffield, to only having one wheelchair space on the bus, the way we design our world largely neglects the needs of disabled people. Other countries are taking steps to rectify this, from appointing more disabled town planners to raising train station platforms to have level access, yet here in England, we make little progress.
A few months ago I was in Edinburgh with my dad, who has Multiple Sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. They got a lot of things right, but equally a lot wrong. Their buses have two wheelchair spaces, an audio-visual system to indicate upcoming stops and fold-down rollover bars, but even on the shallower hills, it was impossible to get wheelchairs into shops, meaning we had to go back to Edinburgh station to have lunch. We have much the same problems in Sheffield.
Take Esperanto Place, for example, there are stairs and grass to make it easier to get between Arundel Gate and Pond St, but no ramp. We design accessible homes that are still difficult to get around and we cut vital social care to save money. Until the need to centre accessibility at the heart of decision-making is accepted and written into law, those of us who are disabled, 18% of the UK population, will continue to be excluded
Graves Park Green Party