27/04/2010

Disabled WC’s – A DDA Claim in the Waiting

As a wheelchair user I find it hard to understand why in 2010 many hotels, restaurants and shops offering disabled WC’s facilities are still failing miserably under the requirements of the DDA, many are so badly fitted out, cramped and offer poor transfer aids that they are putting disabled people at risk of accident or injury.

A disabled WC I recently used in a hotel room I booked from a well known hotel chain, well, these are called ‘lodges’ and aimed at those that ‘travel’ Come on this isn’t rocket science put the two words together and you will know who I’m talking about, no, sDisabled WC imagetill not got it? OK, let me start again! A disabled WC I recently used in a Travel Lodge lol was so high that when sitting on it not only could my feet not touch the ground for balance, but I could not even reach the loo roll or any of the badly installed grab/support bars. (Not the image shown)

A disabled WC needs to meet the needs of all people with disabilities and at the very least offer safe transfer on and off the WC from a wheelchair position as well as colour contrasted grab rails to assist our friends with vision impairments.

OK, at the risk of boring you, here’s a run down:
Apart from offering safe transfer, all facilities such as soap, washbasin, paper towel or hand dryer need to be reachable from sitting on the WC, this is for obvious personal hygiene reasons that I’m sure I don’t need to go into! Emergency pull cords need to be reachable from both the WC seated position and the floor area in case of falls. Doors should be outward opening in standard 1500mm x 2200mm compartments and be a minimum of 750mm wide (1000mm preferred)

The regulations for a WC are very specific and there for a reason. However we still continue to find newly fitted disabled WC’s in a dangerous state and most are simply not updated to meet DDA standards due partly to cost but mainly down to ignorance.

This will continue into the near future, however, time will come and I’m sure that won’t be far off when sadly a disabled person will either be very badly injured or heaven forbid die because these standards are not met, this will be closely followed by a massive court case that results in the company (or local authority council) being sued for a great deal of money, probably courtesy of our no win, no fee lawyers that are just waiting to jump on the backs of those guilty parties.

Note: The disabled WC image above is a reasonably good example but as far as the DDA is concerned it actually has a minimum of 7 that's SEVEN major faults, how many can you spot? Our friends at Access All Areas have promised to drop in the answer in at a later date so please bookmark this page to return.

Basic facts supplied courtesy of Access All Areas – DDA specialists

26/04/2010

Funny Website Addresses

I came across these web addresses that may give the site owners a shock when they read them back as one word, just though i'd share a few chuckles with you all as a break from disability stuff:

Enjoy:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents‘ where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is
www.whorepresents.com

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at
www.expertsexchange.com

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at
www.penisland.net

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at
www.therapistfinder.com

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…
www.powergenitalia.com

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:
www.molestationnursery.com

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always
www.ipanywhere.com

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is
www.cummingfirst.com

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:
www.speedofart.com

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at
www.gotahoe.com

19/04/2010

Blogger alt image text for the blind

On a note most visitors here will find mind numbingly boring but very much worth a mention is how the blind and vision impaired see/read images in websites and blogs such as this one. This blogger template is supplied by good old Google but does not allow us and other webmasters to automatically include the VERY important alt text or alt tag to images on the new blogger system, old system yes but the new one nooooo.

OK, I hear most of you screaming at your monitors asking 'what the hell is this guy on about' Let me explain before you go off and hide in a darkened room.
Cute puppy picture
Image alt text (or for the techy minded alt="your text here") is an html web code used to place text over an image when you run your mouse over it, or more importantly what blind readers see to tell the blind user what the image is. See image right when you put your mouse over it. (note: if viewing through Firefox you won't see the text but blind readers will)

The posts entered below this one will not offer this but from now on I shall add the html alt code manually because I know how important this is to the blind and visually impaired, just a shame Google missed it but as this post will be popping up in search engines perhaps our kindly friends over at Google will be kind enough to include the alt="your text here" command on future new versions in the Google blogger template coding.

Gripe end! :)

17/04/2010

Remember the 'Acedes invalid Car'?

Anybody out there remember the dreaded ‘Invalid Carriage’? (full name Acedes invalid car) Thankfully now defunct along with that distasteful word used to describe those unfortunate enough to own one!

Three wheeled with or without hand controls, (well handlebars actually) two stroke 147cc and later 500cc engine with one seat and room for a folding wheelchair accessed via a large sliding door. At top speed it had enough power to cut the entire grass housed in a window box.
Available in any colour providing it was blue but if you were really lucky you could get one with a white roof. Built in Thundersley in Essex they were a real Essex bird babe magnet but only if you were trying to pick up Babe the pig from the movie of the same name!

The shell was made of fibreglass and they were built and supplied by the Health Services from 1933 up until 1977 when government came to their senses and scrapped them. By 2003 government agents crushed all they could lay their hands on, I say ‘crushed’ but I do believe all was needed was a pair of Christmas nut crackers and a strong hand.
Anyway for those interested a run down of these and other disabled motoring beasts can be found here HERE

OK, I'm being a bit strong on the little blue beast, it did at least get the less mobile out and about, to work, shop etc but i'm sure those that remember them are thankful we now have Motability supplying disabled adapted vehicles.

Anybody brave enough to tell us their experiences with the Acedes invalid carriage I’d very much like to hear them, click 'comments' below to leave your post.

Is Disabled Access All Bad

As disabled people we nearly all complain about it, most of us can tell horror stories, however, as a wheelchair user of some 30 years plus but still young enough to have a long memory I can positively say ‘things as far as access is concerned are definitely on the up.

OK before you bombard me with your valid claims of ‘I can’t access this place or that place', please let me explain from where i'm sitting.

Many moons ago at the ripe old age of 16, I left hospital after being in for just short of a year. I couldn't cross many of the roads due to very few having dropped curbs, these were a rare thing back then. Going into my local hostilary (you could get away with underage drinking then) was just about impossible and as a disabled person, you would be frowned upon for doing so, disabled people drinking, whatever next!

I was denied access to many public venues such as cinemas as I was considered a Health & Safety risk’ in case a fire broke out. Booking into a hotel was no better as very few had disabled rooms, as for flying, I would have had more luck trying to grow wings.

Disabled people did not drive standard cars either, they had (Bright Blue) ‘invalid carriages’ that stood out like a sore thumb and screamed out ‘Look I’m disabled’ See invalid carrige article here.

Thankfully there have been many improvements and changes over the years but more importantly the attitudes of people in general have changed a great deal and I really do mean a GREAT deal. As disabled people we now have a rightful place in society and in the big bad outside world.

OK so there are still many places we cant get access to and to be honest there always will be but if you look at the whole picture, access has evolved in leaps and bounds.

Putting right all the worlds access issues is a lengthy and somewhat mammoth task, especially in many older countries and cities like London etc but i'm please to say we are getting there, slowly yes I grant you but we are getting there, disabled people are no longer denied access to cinemas, booking into (most) hotels is now possible and yes, they even have disabled friendly rooms if not always DDA compliant ones, not only have we got rid of the‘Invalid carriages’ but society has gone one step further and got rid of the word invalid along with them, UK anyway, the Americans are behind us but they will soon follow.

So there we have it, in a nutshell, we are getting there access wise, we just need to start seeing see it and comparing where we have come from.

Supplied by: Access All Areas - DDA Audits

Blind leading the blind

I saw a lady with a guide dog pass my window. After a minute or so I watched as she signalled her dog to walk forward, the dog just sat there and refused to budge. (stupid dumb mutt I thought) This continued for a minute or so until I was so puzzled by it that I went out to see what was happening.

Sure enough the woman was still standing and trying in vain to get the dog to move forward.

I asked what the problem was and she explained that a car a few yards ahead had its wheels on the kerb and its motor running. In a situation like this the dog (not so dumb after all) is trained not to proceed but will wait for the car to either move on or have its engine turned off.

As I looked at the car I was able to tell the blind lady that in fact there was no one in it (the driver had mounted the kerb, left the engine running and popped into a shop for something, I waited another 2 or 3 minutes until the driver (I wont say whether a man or woman driver) returned and hopped into the car totally oblivious to the inconvenience she had caused.

I pointed out what had happened to the driver who seemed a little embarrassed and shot off in the car. (dumb driver) Only a week or so later I saw the same thing only this time I had the answer.

Some yards from my office is a dirt track crossed by a footpath? Once again the same blind lady and her dog were on one side of the path, the dog sat on the pavement and the lady signalling for it to move forward. This time a van driver was parked at the side of the dirt track reading a newspaper with his engine running to keep warm.

As this is a dirt track there is no kerb or pavement so once again the dogs training meant it would not take its owner in front of a car with its engine running whilst not entirely on the road.

Makes ya think hey?

Learning Difficulties - Disabilities

Imagine having something very important to say but you just cant get your thoughts across or make the person understand what you are trying to convey. You may feel bombarded by sights and sounds, unable to focus your attention.

You may not need to imagine this, you may understand it. You might be the parent or relative of a child experiencing learning problems, or have a loved one in your family diagnosed as learning disabled.

Although different from person to person, learning difficulties are common daily experiences of many children and adults. Those with a learning disability may experience a feeling of failure and low self-esteem.

OK, enough doom and gloom. It is important to understand that those with learning disabilities can and do learn and learn well.

This type of disability usually only affects certain limited areas of development, rarely are learning disabilities severe enough to prevent a person living a happy and normal life. This can effect a persons life a lot or very little. One thing is sure and that is our understanding, reaction and response to the person with learning difficulties, drastically effects that person.

Being patient, trying to understand and treating the person with respect greatly reduces their frustration and anxiety, helps them relax, feel less tense but most of all gives them time to think without pressure or fear of failure.

This type of disability usually only affects certain limited areas of development, rarely are learning disabilities severe enough to prevent a person living a happy and normal life. This can effect a persons life a lot or very little. One thing is sure and that is our understanding, reaction and response to the person with learning difficulties, drastically effects that person.
Being patient, trying to understand and treating the person with respect greatly reduces their frustration and anxiety, helps them relax, feel less tense but most of all gives them time to think without pressure or fear of failure.
This article is not designed to tell you all about learning difficulties, it is merely here to help you understand and relate with confidence and in doing so ease the pressure for the learning disabled to better cope with their disability.
For more details on learning difficulties and how to assist, see Mencap at www.mencap.org.uk