Here is something which might shock you - I am legally classed as "Disabled" - I have a Disabled Bus Pass to prove it but I have disabled friends who have more legal rights than me when it comes to travelling on buses. Why??? Because they are in a wheelchair whilst I can walk.
You might have read the above paragraph and wondered what my problem is with that??? After all, someone in a wheelchair is obviously more disabled than someone who can walk.
Not necessarily. I have friends who use wheelchairs but can walk short distances. I would also suggest that someone with a visual impairment is actually more disabled than the person in the wheelchair - even if they might not appear that way most of the time. (I am typing as someone with a visual impairment myself.). Me walking down the aisle of a moving bus attempting to find a seat can be a very dangerous proposition indeed. In fact, I have - on one occasion - injured my back as a result of falling backwards when a bus slammed its brakes on hard as I was walking to the back of the bus. My scream as I hit the floor was almost enough to wake the dead. It certainly shook the driver up.
The strange thing is - while a wheelchair now has legal priority over a pushchair or pram when it comes to parking spaces on buses - I, as a "Walking Disabled"person cannot force anybody to eject themself from a seat which is designated for the use of Disabled and Elderly people (or those who are less able to stand) - even when there are signs near the seats to that effect.
One of my wheelchair using friends - Michael Gilhooley - surprised me by agreeing with me when I put a comment on Facebook stating that I think the "Walking Disabled" should have the same legal rights when it comes to buses as the "Wheeled Disabled".
As it stands now - the only way I am guaranteed to get a seat on a crowded bus is to hope it is too hot for me to walk around without my Walking Tank. If I appear on a bus attached to that I can guarantee I will get a seat no problem.
It should not matter whether or not I appear to be "obviously" disabled. The fact that I have a Disabled Bus Pass should be enough for me to get a seat in the designated seats. After all, a few months ago another passenger thought I had no right to sit in the Disabled seats until I showed them my bus pass - which they accepted - so why doesn't the same bus pass give me the legal right to sit in the designated seats???
We really need a proper debate as to what exactly "Disabled" means legally.
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