You could say I had a slightly strange experience on Monday evening. It was the first time that someone had had exactly the same experience as I had had - even though their sight is a lot better than mine.
It also happened to be the second time the person concerned appeared to decide I was brainier than they had previously thought I was.
I must admit to being a more than a little upset as a result of being reminded of how low in the "Food Chain of People Who Should Be Taken Seriously When They Have An Access Problem" I actually am.
Let's face it - my concerns about accessibility usually get dismissed with the phrase "not everybody's eyesight is as bad as you make yours out to be!". I feel like replying, "You don't know how lucky you are that that is true."
I must admit I did put a disclaimer (or caveat) in my "Eighth Circle Of Hell" blog post about Birmingham New Street Station (and the Grand Central "Shopping" Centre) saying that people with "normal" vision would probably love the place. After all, that is exactly who I thought the place was designed for.
I didn't allow for Constable Chaos in my calculations. I had told him that I didn't like Birmingham New Street Station - but I had been prepared to suffer it once more (until I realised the event he set up in Birmingham was on a day I was unable to make).
The first I knew about Chaos' experience of the station was when I saw a series of tweets from him saying exactly what I had said in my blog post. I decided to send him the link to the blog post in a Direct Message. His response shocked me- "I recognise the points you made in your blog"! Woah - something must be seriously wrong with the place if a man - whose eyesight allows him to wander around without glasses on (and not crash into things) - makes exactly the same complaints as me.
This is where I begin to have problems.
In an ideal world I should not need the back up of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) or LCiLin order for my complaints to be taken seriously. The RNIB seem to be too scared of losing funding to complain anyway.
The people whose support I should be able to count on when I have a problem with access are the very people who are likely to be able to use the exact same things without any problems regarding access. As in - people like you.
If I have to be totally honest - the most soul destroying thing about my sight is that (due to me being in the worst 0.001% of the population) I know I won't be taken seriously if I complain about access unless someone with near perfect vision experiences the same thing. Either that - or the person I am complaining to knows me well enough to understand my difficulties.
It is almost as if the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equalities Act don't exist sometimes.
If I had my way I would totally rewrite the Planning Laws regarding the design of Public Buildings. I would force the Architects to involve Disabled people at the very beginning of the planning and design process, as well as the Emergency Services, in order to solve the problems of accessibiity as well as any Public Order issues which may arise as a result of the design of the building. In fact, I would make it illegal for any Planning Permission to be granted for a Public Building if the above criteria had not been met.
You may be wondering why I used some lyrics to "You Can't Hurry Love" (by either The Supremes or Phil Collins - depending on which version you heard first) as the main title to this blog post???
They sum up my exact feelings about waiting for full recognition of the rights of Disabled people to have totally equal access to buildings without having to fight for every single inch of ground we get (pun intended) first.
One day I really hope my dream will come true.
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