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Why The "Disability Discrimination Act" Is Not Worth The Paper It Is Written On (Or - You Cannot Legislate Against Laziness)

Yes - that is the internationally recognised "No Entry" Sign

The "Disability Discrimination Act" should be a wonderful piece of legislation which enables those of us who either classify ourselves or are classified by others as being "Disabled" to have exactly the same opportunities as the "Able-bodied" members of society.

However, it doesn't quite work like that in my experience (or the experience of other people with various disabilities).

In fact - you could say that in some cases the "Disability Discrimination Act" shares more characteristics with the "No Entry Sign" in the picture at the start of this blog post.

I have blogged before about the fact that the purchase of glasses (as in "spectacles") is not covered by the "Disability Discrimination Act".

However, there are a few other things which I wish were also covered by the Act.  Apparently I am covered by the Act when it comes to getting into a shop, cafe, or other building.  (Handrails, ramps, etc, should be provided to enable me to get into the building.)  The actual layout, lighting, etc, inside the building doesn't seem to be covered though.  I have lost count of the amount of times I have walked into a building of any description and found myself unable to access the reason I entered the establishment.

You may call me slightly crazy if you want to (to be honest I am past caring) but - if I manage to enter an establishment on my own - I do not expect to have to leave and return with other people in order to achieve the objective of my visit.  It is all very well training your staff in helping people to access your goods and services - but if I find myself needing to ask your staff for help in reading a menu, etc, your system has failed before our intended transaction has even begun.

Put simply - the only time when I will happily ask for help is if I find myself in a situation where I am faced with reading a language I cannot speak or understand a word of.  For the rest I would prefer to be given exactly the same chance as everybody else.

Of course - the way I access the goods and services provided by your establishment may not be the same as everybody else.  For example - I much prefer being able to hold things like menus, notices, etc, in my hand - instead of either having to locate a stepladder and a microscope or having to stand nose to wall with a notice which has been "helpfully" attached to a wall - because the idiot who designed the aforementioned notice appears to have forgotten that there are humans who cannot actually see extremely small print.

Another object which frustrates me no end is your friendly local ATM (or cash mashine) - and the associated "Chip and Pin" machines.

I will start with the ATM.  Leaving aside the fact that the ones outside buildings are usually not shaded from the sun (in fact most of them appear to be in direct sunlight most of the time) for a minute.  The major problem I have got with most of them is the size of the flipping contraption - more precisely - the size of the screen and the font.  If the screen was bigger you could have spaces between the buttons around the sides of the screens.  As for the font-size - I usually end up wanting to laugh whenever I use the "Fasttrack Banking" (or whatever those machines are called where you can get printed statements, etc) at HSBC banks.  They let you have a choice of font-size for the screen.  You can either have "Small" (for my eyes please read "Microscopic") or "Normal" (for my eyes read "Small").  I heard a rumour that they were considering having a "Large" font-size as well (for my eyes read "Normal") but I have yet to see it.

The "Chip and Pin" devices are the worst offenders though.  I never know what sort I am going to be faced with when I want to pay by Debit Card - will I need to squint at the screen because the font is very small on a dark green background? Or will I need to find a welding visor to protect my eyes from the brightly backlit screen (even though the font is actually a readable size for once)???

My biggest bugbear which isn't covered by the "Disability Discrimination Act" is one which I have been known to face alost before I leave my home.  In fact- they are two bugbears of mine.

I have blogged before about those things I classify as "Mobile Discos" (cars with music blaring from windows which are apparently sealed shut - and I can hear the music before I can see the car approaching).  According to me - the only vehicles which should drive around making that level of noise so loud it drowns out the noise of the engine are as follows - Police, Ambulance, Fire Engines, and that is only when they are on "Emergency" calls.  There is something about hearing a siren combined with seeing blue flashing lights which gives the general impression the driver is in something of a hurry.  This ensures I keep my distance.  On the other hand - hearing the latest chart-topping "tunes" - or even a halfway decent song by a group like Bon Jovi or Queen (if I am lucky) at top volume just makes me want to submit the driver of the vehicle to an urgent hearing test.  The funny thing is that the drivers of the "Mobile Discos" usually manage to drive like one of Meat Loaf's songs - "Bat Out Of Hell"!!!

My biggest bugbear is one which I really think should be covered by the "Disability Discrimination Act".  Mainly because it discriminates against the highest proportion of people (whether or not they are actually "disabled" themselves - they could actually be pushing a pram or a pushchair).

I know I have blogged about this several times before - but parking your car with most of it draped over the pavement is actually extremely dangerous.  You parking your car like that may not pose any danger for you - but for those of us who cannot judge gaps (in particular), or who are in a wheelchair, or pushing a pram, and end up having to enter the traffic on the road (where you are actually supposed to find cars) this has been known to turn into a case of "Take Your Life Into Your Own Hands".

If you are too lazy to actually find a carpark (I believe these are actually designed for the purpose of parking your car safely) I have a favour to ask you.  After you have finished draping your car over the pavement - please open the door on the side of the pavement to its widest extent.  If you cannot open the door so it is at rightangles to the car - find somewhere else to park.  This is especially true on sunny days (at least for me because my limited ability to judge small gaps becomes non-existent in bright sunshine).

We have all heard about reports of Disabled people being discriminated against - for example - Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs not being allowed in Taxis, buildings not having adequate ramps and things to help people access them, etc.  These are covered by the "Disability Discriminination Act".  However, as you have seen - in my opinion - it doesn't go nearly far enough to actually prevent discrimination of disabled people.

There again - I wonder how many disabled people were consulted before the Act was written and passed into Law???

We need to be able to have confidence in things like the "Disability Discrimination Act" covering all scenarios which disabled people may face - without having to consult other laws (or even the HIghway Code) and without having to work out which law contradicts the Act itself.  Or even - having to know that I cannot use the "Disability Discrimination Act" to cover me when I want to buy a pair of glasses - but I can use it because I am Registered Partially Sighted (which - correct me if I am wrong - would suggest I need glasses more than most people???).

I live in hope of the Act being re-written to cover all scenarios - but I am nt holding my breath.
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