Friday, 25 October 2013

Which came first the Rocket or the Wheelchair

Which one should have come first: the motorised wheelchair, or the rocket to the moon?

Man went to the moon for the first time in August 1969, when Neil Armstrong and his team went with NASA. I was six years old then (don’t tell anyone!). I saw a motorised wheelchair for the first time in 1991. Why did it take so long for the motorised wheelchair to be invented? Well, in fact, it was invented in 1916, would you believe it? But it was not commercially available until much later. When did you see one? 
I think wheelchair users have not been treated fairly. There used to be a horrible joke: Which part of the vegetable can’t you eat? The wheelchair. There was a young man talking about what meeting people of the opposite-sex is like as a wheelchair user. He said that if he is in a pub and he sees somebody looking at him, he has to think, is that person looking at him because they find him attractive, or because he is in a wheelchair.  
I remember the days when you did not see a disabled toilet. I do remember the campaign for it in the 80s. Why did it take so long to make a disabled toilet? All that was needed was a wider door, rails, a wider seat and a wider brain for some common sense! 
A map has been designed for wheelchair users. But why was this map not designed when they first invented the tube in 1862? Wheelchair ramp for the bus is very good idea. The Para Olympics is a fantastic idea. It is brilliant that they can take part and win a gold medal just like anybody else, but why were they not allowed to take part when the modern Olympics first started in 1896? Banks now have shelves lower than the counter so that they can do their signature from their wheelchair. We now also have showers, baths and stair-lifts for wheelchair users. Some theatres have a space reserved for wheelchair users, but they request somebody comes with them, and some museums will give a free ticket to the carer of a disabled person, so they can go in with them. 
Shop Mobility is an organisation that hires out motorised wheelchairs. It is run by the Civic Centre for Haringey Council .It is in the Wood Green library arcade. It is open from 10.30am to 5pm. It costs £2.50 for a non member to hire a wheelchair and £2 for a member.  The shop mobility has 10 chairs in stock and it is staffed by Sandra and Doreen who are working there on a voluntary basis. 
London Underground has 6 stations which are step free from street to platform . These are shown by a blue wheelchair  on a white background. On  the Tube map some of these stations are step free from street to train, these are shown by a white wheelchair on a blue background. 
At a number of stations, platform humps have been  installed. These raise  the platform to the level of the train, allowing wheelchair users to board more easily. 
Dedicated Wheelchair spaces are available on Victoria and District lines and on new Metropolitan lines trains. You may not travel on escalators while in your wheelchair. However, if you are  able to stand on the escalator, staff may be able to assist with carrying your chair.  There is also assistance for blind or deaf customers. 
Ramps are currently available to help you board trains at some stations i.e Oxford Circus, Bakerloo line (interchange only). 
I would like to see the day when somebody in a wheelchair goes to the moon in a rocket – what perfect unity!   As human beings on planet earth we are suppose to be intelligent. We have so many ways of communicating, so much access to technology – why not use it to help each other! To make things better for wheelchair users is not rocket science.


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