Inaccessible Rail Travel

Since Tanylee Davis gave her account about an upsetting train journey on social media, there have been a flood of news reports on the inaccessibility of rail travel.

A guard insisted that Tanylee move her mobility scooter when a mother with a pushchair then boarded the train.  He then proceeded to inform all passengers via the tannoy that the train was delayed due to the woman with a mobility scooter refusing to move.

Ms Davis, a comedian reported that the confrontation left her feeling humiliated and tearful for the rest of the journey.

GWR later admitted that they’d made an error and that a wheelchair space is for wheelchairs not for luggage or pushchairs.  However Sara Harvey experienced similar problems:  https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/train-company-faces-calls-to-rip-up-scooter-policy-after-latest-shameful-episode/

Speaking about the incident Tanylee has said she just wanted to highlight problems she had been encountering for the last 15 years.  A statement that many of us would whole-heartedly agree with!

There’s many reasons why train travel can be stressful for Disabled people including inaccessible booking, toilets, platforms, lack of ramps, inconsistent support to get on and off trains and at stations.

I relayed a tale where I booked assistance for a journey which worked well at the outgoing station, was absent at a connecting station whilst the final station was unmanned. Many DEF members nodded in agreement and obviously had their own horror stories to tell.  Such inconsistencies mean people can be stranded at stations or miss vital connections.

Leonard Cheshire research says 1 in 3 Disabled people face rail misery and have called for the government to improve accessibility on train journeys and is encouraging the public to sign their petition: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/about-us/latest-news/press-releases/one-three-disabled-people-face-rail-misery

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is calling for legal action against the government over its failure to ensure an accessible rail service.

Transport For All (TfA) campaigns for affordable, reliable and accessible transport as a right:  http://www.transportforall.org.uk/

In Bristol problems can be reported to the Public Transport Group, if you email me I can inform the group.

sarah.howard@brandontrust.org

Tanyalee is a fiesty performer, catch her if you can! https:/tanyaleedavis.com

 

 

The Right Trousers: developing the tech for robot assisted trousers

BDEF Co-chair, Suaad Walker, recently attended The Right Trousers event at UWE’s Future Space in their Robotics Lab. The event centred on a research project into robotic trousers to help those with impaired mobility.

The location was fully accessible. The event was a showcase/feedback for some of the research that is being collaboratively worked on by several universities: Bristol, UWE, Leeds, Loughborough, Nottingham, Southampton and Strathclyde. Funding is a mix of EU and UK health funding to look at ways of using robotics to improve independent living. This event particularly focused on the use of robotics to overcome restricted mobility in terms of getting out of a chair/walking as well as reducing the problems associated with drop-foot syndrome. Bristol showcased their work with focus groups of elderly and disabled to identify exactly what kind of help is needed in a variety of different scenarios as well as helping the researchers to better understand the experience of impaired mobility. This feedback suggested that assistive trousers would need to be light-weight, cheap, comfortable, and easy to take on and off plus be washable!

Research so far has:

  • Resulted in a specialist 3D printer that combines viscous silicone with a hardener to produce a substance that is textile like and has the potential to act like an artificial muscle when stimulated.
  • Precision motion capture technology that concentrates on joint functionality and has a built in feed-back similar to, but a major improvement, on current ‘health-wristband’ technology.
  • Several different varieties of artificial muscle:
    • A flat plastic, folded like a strip of origami paper that unfolds when electrically stimulated to simulate muscle activity.
    • A flat tube of plastic that fills with air pressure to simulate muscle activity.
    • A sequence of connected plastic beads that fill with air pressure to simulate muscle activity.
    • An ‘activator’ small enough to clip onto a belt that contains enough compressed air for 100 ‘doses’ of ‘muscle activation’.
  • A ‘slim’ sock designed to overcome the problems of foot drop incorporating a further form of artificial muscle.
  • A pair of trousers incorporating many of the above developments.
  • A pair of trousers that can be remotely lowered or raised when activated.

Tuesday 24th August – Hidden Impairments Access Group

Do you have a long-term health condition but do not ‘look disabled’?  If so, you
are invited to the next meeting of the Hidden Impairments Access Group to discuss our Access Needs and what we are going to do to improve the situation for ourselves and other Disabled people.

Previous topics of conversation have been cycling and Disabled people, how disgusting supermarket floors are to sit on, resting spaces in Bristol and the image of Disabled people.

Tuesday 24th August 2018

3:30pm – 5:30pm

St Pauls Learning Centre, room LT3

You can register your free place by:

Emailing us at bristoldef@gmail.com,

By phoning us on 0117 914 0528

Or book a free place online at https://bit.ly/2vo4aav

Or just turn up on the day!

Please get in touch if you would like to join in via Skype.

Direct Payments Account – Your Choice

If you get a Direct Payment, Bristol City Council (BCC) is making a change that affects you.

BCC has set up a pre-paid card system – called a Bristol Direct Payments Account.  Until now payment has been to your own bank account which is under your control.  Under the new system BCC will run the account on your behalf using Prepaid Financial Services based in Ireland, and give you a ‘debit card’ to pay for goods and services they agree with.

The main differences are that, if the money is in your own bank account, you have total control and you don’t have to use the internet if you don’t want to.  With your own bank account, BCC have to ask you for the return of any money and you can question their decision if you disagree with it.  However, you do have to keep a record of exactly what you spend your Direct Payment on and all receipts.

With the proposed pre-paid card system you only have to keep your receipts but BCC have direct access and can take money out without your agreement.  Although they are meant to notify you first, this means they can take the money before they respond to any objection you might raise.

It is up to you to decide which system works best for you but we have negotiated with BCC that you do not have to transfer to the new system if you prefer not to and, if you have already been moved, you can request that you go back to the old system.  You have the right to choose which payment method suits you best.

If you are asked to move to a pre-paid card system and don’t want to, make this clear to BCC when they contact you.

If you have already been moved and want to go back to using your own bank account you should call Care Direct on 0117 922 2700 or online at www.bristol.gov.uk/social-care-health/form-contact-adult-care-services

REMEMBER – THE CHOICE IS YOURS

How Disabled Am I?

Last week I heard Tanni Grey-Thompson talking about access for Disabled people at airports.  Those airport stairs are steep and hard work for lots of people never mind those who can’t walk.  She commented that ‘lots of people seemed to be using the special assistance service’ now who ‘didn’t really need it’, to effectively queue jump.  I waited for a twitter outrage – there was none.  Does everyone think that people are pretending to be Disabled to queue jump?  I wondered does she just mean that lots of people with hidden impairments, who are failing to wear a placard around their necks, are daring to identify as Disabled people and benefit from the services put there to support them?  I imagined her being refused access to special assistance on the basis that she is an Olympic athlete.  She looks like she has got strong arms and could shimmy up those handrails no problem.

The first time I flew after becoming a Disabled person it never occurred to me to use special assistance as I could actually walk, although I did still use a wheelchair sometimes I knew that once I got to where I was going I could pace myself, rest plenty and not get too tired.  I learnt within about 5 minutes of the departure gate being announced that the airport was too big.  I couldn’t walk that fast, the effort to do so made me cry with exhaustion and to make matters worse when I got to the gate there was a long queue.  I sat on the floor and waited for it to go down.

A year later in Rome, having got to Italy without any problem, the special assistance people looked at me, checked my ticket and refused to help.  They went back to playing pushing each other round in the airport wheelchairs that I wasn’t allowed to sit in, taking pictures of each other and having a laugh.  I tried to insist that I was a Disabled person (they were certainly making me feel it) but they carried on messing about.

Whenever I have been in the special assistance area of an airport the passengers are a mixed bunch, mainly older people with a few like me looking fine, but waiting for help none the less.  I am relieved that I don’t have to describe what is wrong with me to get their help.  It means that I can still go places and pollute the atmosphere with a trip to Poland every year like anyone else!  

I think that Mrs Grey-Thompson should think about what she is saying.  She went on in the interview to talk about the needs of wheelchair users as if ‘Disabled people’ and ‘wheelchair users’ are one and the same.  I always had a big question mark about Disabled Olympians as role models for the rest of us.  The way impairments are characterized in the different ability classes is highly offensive to me.  I think she would grade anyone like me in the ‘not Disabled’ class.  Bah.  I just won’t ask a fit looking wheelchair user for help either and I am not going back to Rome airport ever again.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum comment:

The author of this article raises an important issue regarding the difficulties some people with hidden impairments can experience – and her own experience, described here, is clear evidence of that. 

We also know she is far from alone – many of the members of our Hidden Impairments’ Group have experienced discrimination, by both Disabled and not-yet Disabled people, because their impairment[s] is not visible.

As she says, she doesn’t know whether Tanni Grey-Thompson’s views were based on who “looked disabled” or upon more reliable data.  However, there is no doubt that Disabled people who have ‘invisible’ impairments are the majority – yet most of the population still doesn’t appreciate this fact.

So, if you are due to fly, will need assistance and don’t want to have a similar experience to the one described here, make sure you book the assistance you need in advance. 

Living Activist Struggles to End Injustice Call for Contributions

The editorial collective of Critical Social Policy invites contributions, from activists all over the world, about how you, your group or your campaign is working to end social injustice. We are open to contributions in any format. We hope to be as inclusive and supportive as possible and we will do our very best to help you to develop your ideas and contribution every step of the way.

Critical Social Policy is a journal grounded in international socialist, feminist, anti-racist and radical perspectives. This edition of the journal is about the lived experience of struggles for social justice locally, nationally and internationally.

Here are some issues that contributions could explore and we welcome other ideas that you may have:

  •  Tensions faced by grassroots, community, activist groups and how these are negotiated.
  • Collective mobilizations, bridge building, connections and alliances.
  • Coping with challenges in sustaining grassroots action for liberation.
  • Challenges of building sustainable infrastructures, strategic positioning and the embedding of empowerment work.
  • The negotiation of power relationships.
  • Organising, campaigning and developing services in a collective and non-hierarchal way
  • The complexity of relating across difference as equals.
  • How activism can be inclusive.
  • How we sustain our hope, energy, love and compassion for each other and for our social movements and goals through times of exhaustion and despair.
  • In the context of power, the complexities of finding and holding onto emotional, financial and spiritual resources.
  • How activism and struggles relate to and draw strength from historical knowledge and collective understanding.

If you want to contribute to this edition please email a one page summary of your idea by 31st December 2018 to the journal coordinator Suryia Nayak. Email: s.nayak@salford.ac.uk.

The editorial collective of Critical Social Policy will review the summaries to decide which contributions are accepted to work with us to develop their full contribution for submission in the Activist Edition of the journal.  You will hear back from us by 28th February 2019.

If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting a summary please contact the journal coordinator Suryia Nayak. Email: s.nayak@salford.ac.uk.

The final contributions should be submitted by 1st June 2019 and will be reviewed by the editorial collective prior to decision on publication.

Ride Out Ride On

 

A range of different conditions can stop people from being able to access the outdoors. From mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, to mobility issues related to stroke, heart conditions, visual impairment or learning disabilities, there are any number of obstacles preventing people from being able to propel themselves on their own adventures.

Ride Out Ride On (RORO, for short) is a Bristol-based service dedicated to providing the freedom and movement of a bike ride to those who would otherwise be unable to do so themselves. By taking clients out on a specially designed tandem – the Hase Pino – we can offer anyone the freedom of movement and joy of cycling.

How it works:

Clients are placed on the semi-recumbent front seat of the tandem, leaving the steering, balancing, braking and gear changing to our experienced back-riders. The service can offer a range of modular attachments that can accommodate a wide range of conditions.

Attachments:

Braces can be attached to either or both pedals to support weak or unstable legs. The bike is equipped with dual-kickstands meaning clients do not have to worry about the balance or stability of the bike, even when it’s not in motion.

Children’s cranks can be put on the bike meaning anyone of any height, size or age can ride. The bike is also designed with a freewheel in the front crankset, allowing clients to pedal as much or as little as they want.

Clients:

To date, clients have included those with stroke, autism, loss of sight and anxiety. For some conditions – Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, for example – there are documented health benefits relating to the re-connection of neural pathways that come with the rotational and repetitive motion of pedalling. For others, the impacts are no less powerful: riding a bike, having fun, and being immersed in the great outdoors, can build self-confidence, recover lost strength and stamina, or improve balance.

Who we are:

Holly, the founder of RORO, has always been invested in the issues of access, distribution and fairness. Volunteering as a guide-runner for the visually impaired, studying BSL, and working as an inclusion worker for young people with medical and behavioural needs have, in some way, all been about ensuring everyone has a chance to do what they love, irrespective of the obstacles life may have put in their way. In 2017, she decided she wanted to take this mission and introduce it to her first true love: cycling.

As someone who has cycled through countries around the world (Cuba, Georgia, Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, France, Scotland etc.), and running local guided cycle tours for Bristol company Cycle the City (sight seeing tours, food tours, women of Bristol history tours) Holly knew first hand the benefits that cycling can offer to one’s health, wellbeing and enjoyment. Knowing that there were people unable to unlock these benefits, she decided to set up RORO, to make sure as many people as possible – especially those who could most benefit from it – could get on their bikes and ride.

The first steps:

The service consists of the following components. Firstly – a free diagnosis session will be organised, in which a rider will visit the client to assess what particular needs they have, and what adaptations need to be made to the tandem to accommodate their particular height or other. Anyone can get in contact to discuss getting involved with RORO – either for themselves, or on behalf of a loved one or a patient. Routes will be discussed, and clients can explain how far, and for how long they expect to want to ride for – typically an hour or two’s cycling. The first session can then arranged.

Cycle routes:

Routes can either be selected from the portfolio of traffic-free routes RORO have developed from National Cycle Network and Sustrans routes or, if preferred, the client can be taken on whatever journey, aiming for whatever destination the client likes. Then the adventure can begin.

Depending on start point of the adventure, the location of the client, and the availability of their own transport, we can either meet at the start of the route, or if needed home pick-ups and drop- offs can be arranged. If loved ones, parents, partners or carers want to join in on the adventure, they are of course most welcome to do so. If they do not have access to a bicycle, then RORO also has a number of Temple Cycles bikes that can be hired.

Price:

 An hour’s cycle costs £48, or a two hour session £90. If home pick-ups are required, the time taken to pick up and reach the start point is not included in the session’s cost. All RORO’s riders are fully insured, and the routes have all been risk-assessed.

For more information, please feel free to get in contact Holly on:

Email: hello@rideoutrideon.com

Phone number: (+44) 7823 461 892

Instagram: @rideoutrideon

Pavement Parking Campaign

1,000 days is a long time to wait when your safety is put at risk by dangerous pavement parking.  By September, that’s exactly how long it will have been since the UK Parliament promised to find out how a new law on pavement parking would work.

In August, the Guide Dogs charity will be taking to the streets across the country to collect signatures for an open letter calling on the Government to end the thousand days of delay on pavement parking.  Would you like to join them?

All you need is a spare a couple of hours on any day during 13-19 August and to sign up here to help in your local area.

Student research into transport barriers for people with hearing loss

Every day, thousands of people use public transport to get to work. However, people with hearing impairments face many barriers that can make travel by public transport difficult, or even impossible.

As part of her Masters programme in Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, Liliana W.Jonni  is looking for participants to take part in a short survey. The survey includes questions about the transport difficulties faced by people with a hearing impairment and the extent to which transport creates problems in relation to employment or employability.

If you are able to support Liliana’s work by completing the survey it would be much appreciated. You can find it here:  https://bit.ly/2tnUSKX