This morning I woke from a vivid dream feeling foolish for taking a silly risk. It took me a moment to realise I’d been dreaming and that I wasn’t about to get told off by my friends for dangerous decision-making.
Recalling the dream made me laugh, so for your amusement here it is:
I’d been to a hospital appointment in town by myself and for some reason I’d decided to experiment with walking through Covent Garden rather than using my wheelchair. It’s an area I’ve been visiting since I was a child and it all felt totally familiar.
I came to a shop that I haven’t been able to go into for years because it isn’t wheelchair-accessible. I decided I’d go in and up the stairs even though I knew this was dangerous. I crawled up the stairs and looked around, falling to the floor frequently as I went.
To my surprise I discovered the changing rooms at the top of the many, many stairs had been carefully ramped and were super-accessible. I got annoyed and started talking to another customer about how ridiculous it was that they’d ramped an area it was impossible to get to in a wheelchair because it was up all those stairs. The customer asked me if I sometimes used a chair and I explained that I did but that I was testing my walking.
She helpfully escorted me downstairs (it’s good to find that there are even helpful strangers in my dreams). We parted company outside the shop but not before she’d dropped her shopping which included the biggest bag of mint imperials I’d ever seen.
I headed home falling down and walking through an anonymous part of London on the way, and worrying about what Leftwing Idiot would say when he found out how stupid I’d been.
He doesn’t need to worry though. I didn’t enjoy my dream walk and felt relieved when I woke up to find myself safely tucked up in bed rather than on the unforgiving cobbles of Covent Garden.
Sadly, access to some shops is still nightmarish. I understand that it can be expensive to fit lifts and that there are restrictions on what can be done on some older buildings, but not considering accessibility at all is unacceptable.
I recently went into a small shop spread over two floors. They didn’t have a lift but they did have a fully kitted out accessible changing room on the ground floor, and friendly, helpful staff who were happy to fetch things from upstairs I was interested in trying on. While this isn’t ideal, it’s a reasonable adjustment.
Turning me and my money away doesn’t make business sense and it’s illegal as well, because not making provision for people with disabilities contravenes the Equality Act 2010.
My big dream isn’t that I’ll be able to walk safely again but that I can safely access any public place I want to in my wheelchair.