Tuesday, 10 May 2011

You couldn't make it up!

There are many absurdities which are completely normal when you are on wheels - from accessible toilets reachable only via steps, to shops with aisles 30cm wide.

But yesterday, for the first time since becoming a wheelie, access issues left me speechless.

I arrived for work (at a school), parked in the allocated disabled bays and wheeled off to class. The general accessibility is good and I whizzed round, made a few minor adjustments to my classroom layout so it suited me better, and started teaching. All was going well.

The head of department popped her head in "Is this your car registration number?" "yes?" (has it been broken into? did I leave my lights on?) "You are blocking in a delivery lorry, could you move your car?" "I doubt it, I'm parked in the disabled bays, could you check it is my car that needs moving!"

Obviously I wasn't blocking anyone in as I was in one of the only 2 disabled parking spaces, located next to each other, and not in anyones way. The foolish 'problem parker' would be correctly identified and I would continue my lesson.

2 minutes later the head of department was back. "erm....Hannah, it is your car." (very embarrassed pause)

"Yeah right! I'm parked in the crip space for goodness sake! like that could possibly be in the way! - have you got a directionally challenged carpark or something?"
"erm...the delivery lorries drive down the section of pavement through the disabled bays..."
"I can move the car for you if you like"
Off she went to move my car.

I looked at my student. My mouth opening and closing without words.
And she looked back. Trying to convince ourselves that yes, this was the real world, and yes, this had really happened.

She spoke first:

"That's just stupid"

If only architects and project planners had the common sense of my 14 yr old student.


  1. Should have told her she can't move your car, she's not insured - it would have avoided a confrontation.

    I suspect I'd have told her to bugger off, though - they could have used a hand truck (which pretty much all vans of that type carry), and carted the stuff through without difficulty.

  2. Only humans could design something that utterly stupid.

  3. It was dealt with with good humour and respect on both sides - no confrontation needed (luckily I am insured for such eventualities as someone else moving my car :D )

    If it happens again, they'll be making a new parking space - site manager warned :D

  4. Did you use the word crip? I did not know you were crippled.

  5. Yes, I used the word 'crip'. In some ways, in some situations, 'crippled' is a very accurate description of me. I use many terms to describe my disability/physical state depending on what suits the occasion, but never with the intention of offending :)

  6. Aw yes the wonders of people who don't understand wheelchairs take so much space and car ramps take so much space, so they give just enough room for your wheelchair so they could squeeze 11 cars in the space of nine.

  7. Hanna, you have so eloquently stated what happens over and over again..no one realizing how challenging it is. I wish sometimes we could have an day in which to experience, being blind, deaf, loosing a limb or being in a wheelchair and then go around doing the same things they we doeach day and experience being in some one elses shoes:-)

    This would be an exercise in understanding what it's like even if temporarily.

    I know that my family and friends that travel or go out with me, truly understand the challenges I face on a daily basis and they finally get that aha moment when it registers and then they become advocates for change. We all deserve equality and we just want to be accepted.

    Thank you Hanna for your illustrations, stories and those aha moments...for me it resonates so clearly the world I live in and hope to change for the generations that are coming after us. AngelWishes of thanks:-)

  8. I wish I was shocked or speechless, but I know, and am a client of, a charity that keep their van in the disabled space because it's wider. Oh and yes it's a charity with only disabled clients.

    Oh and I am a crip. And while I too can be crippled (often by others but also pain) I like crip, it is neutral. I dislike (as in not-like) disabled (as in not-abled??) as I do have some abilities just not all of the ones considered a full compliment. Crip is short, neutral and to the point


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