ok, i'm giving a bit of my blog over to someone more blog worthy than me, but who says very elequently what i want to.
this is a guest blog from http://www.crimsoncrip.com/
"Usually what I write is aimed at disabled people, or those with an interest in disability issues. Today though I want to chat to able bodied people, those who have never claimed benefits, and who only encounter a wheelchair when they have to dodge one at the supermarket. You are the type of person who agrees that disabled people have too many benefits, too easily, access to care when their families should support them, and that too many of them avoid work they are perfectly capable of. You have always worked, never claimed state help, and have no reason to believe anything will change. In fact you are on your way to work, so you don’t have time to read the views of an opinionated crip, even if you thought they mattered. which of course they don’t.
You open your eyes to see the blurred image of a doctor watching you, you have no real idea where you are, or what has happened. Some time later you learn that you have had a car accident. you have a head injury, and have shattered both your legs, so badly that you will never walk normally, or may be not at all ever again. Your head injury means that you have speech problems, you can speak but not clearly, and you are now partially sighted. You will no longer work as a receptionist again. You spend a long time being reabilated in hospital, you find your disabilities dfficult to handle, but as far as the future goes you ‘know’ the state will look after you.
Once you go home you have professionals around you helping you claim support and benefits. First a social worker comes to do a care assessment. If you qualify then carers will come to do your personal care. You have a husband, so the social worker decides that he can care for you out of working hours, and that you only qualify for 45 minutes to help you get out of bed each day. After a full day at work, he has to make a meal for you both, do the cleaning, do your personal care, which includes helping you read your mail, empty the commode that is the only way you can access the toilet, he must also put you to bed, and help you bath, the carer refuses to do this because of health and safety issues. Once you are in bed, he must make sure everything you need is to hand for the next day, including a snack because you cannot prepare food anymore. If you need the toilet in the night, he has to help,because dark makes your sight problems worse, and you can’t reach the light. An Occupational therapist calls and says there are lots of aids that can help you be more independant, but beyond the very basic, they can longer be funded, your independance only comes at a price you must pay. Similarly the rehabilitation Officer for the visually impaired can suggest ways that your sight difficulties can be overcome, if you want to buy the equipment. A talking phone, screen reader, and a computer that reads your post, along with a wheelchair with tilt facilities, to reduce leg pain. would make your life so much better, but you can’t afford them. The rehab you had also makes it clear that you could manage some tasks if you could buy household equipment to help, a food processor, with many attachments, and a roomba cleaner would help you, but now you are only on benefits, they are out of your reach. the physio tells you that complemantary therapies would help you, but they aren’t available on the NHS.
Money is another big issue, you never thought you would become disabled so you didn’t pay into any insurance schemes. Ypu don’t get compensation, because it tuens out you were running and ran out in front of the car. Your husband works so you can’t get means tested benefits. Your only imcome is Disability Living Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance, you have to wait a long time for the decisions, and you are only awarded each for a year, as it isn’t clear how your condition may change. By the time you get the decision you oly have a few months before you must apply again. Further to this you hear the rules are changing, and its planned that your contributory ESA will stop after a year. DLA alone will not go far, and you will be even less able ro afford the things you need. You have found that being disabled is more expensive than being able bodied. For example you are not able to go out alone, and wheelchair accessible transport costs more. Having a car would help, but the only way you could afford one is using the mobility component of your DLA, a big chunk of your income. You didn’t need a car before, you used buses and trains, but they are no longer easily accessible to you. Even with a car, you cannot drive, and must rely on someone taking you out. Luckily you wouldn’t need complex adaptions otherwise you would have to meet the cost seperately.
Before your accident you had a busy social life, and lots of friends. Now you can only go out if you are taken, and most of your friends don’t contact you anymore; those that do smile and nod blankly when you try to speak, the same reaction you get from most people. They only make short visits, and don’t suggest you go out for meals anymore, not since they realised they have to read the menu for you, help you order, and worse still take you to the toilet, if its accessible that is.
You and your husband had a great relationship before, now he is your carer, and he works, he is too tired to be your lover or soulmate, he is more like your parent. You argue more, and sometimes you want to leave. This is not an option, you cannot leave without help, and anyway you need him to care for you.
In a blink of an eye your life changed for ever, but its ok you can go back to your ‘normal’ life, you are safe……….for now. Don’t get complacent though, there is no guarantee that it won’t be reality sometime soon. In any case old age, which most of us reach, has very sinilar features.
Crimson appologises to her fellow crips for toning this down, there are some things, DWP hassles, waits for treatment, and hate crimes, for example that may have scared the able bodied too much, didn’t want them to stop reading. Scary or not though, these, along with those I mentioned, and some I didn’t, are our reality, a reality that anyone may be thrust into without choice or warning. Dear ablebodied world please remember the risks you take when you pass judgement on us, it could be you.
If any campaigners find this useful please feel free to use it, in part or whole, as long as
Padding round my local town recently, I fell to reflecting how inaccessible things still are for blind people, but also how accessible things can be if a little thought is put in. first the inaccessible parts of life.
Street furniture and advertisement boards. What a pain they are. Not only do we have signs hanging from shop fronts, do they still have those by the way? When I could see, over twenty years ago, I used to look up and see the signs sticking at right angles to the shop fronts, advertising what shop it was. Well, not only do we have those, but the signs, like a badly thought out benefit reform, have migrated painfully to the pathways. This migration makes the lives of visually impaired and blind people especially difficult. Not only are the A boards there, they are mobile, not only are they mobile, so they can be placed anywhere, they are light enough, so that if you crash into them, they will fall over with an almighty clatter, and, as well as scaring the shit out of you, also prove a trip hazard. I think they should put bleepers on the tops of these A boards, or stick them somewhere, preferably out of sight, which they are pretty much anyway, as they are at groin level. I could say more about things being at groin level, and will soon, as things start to get very painful on our walk around my local town. Not only have I got movable, eminently dangerous A boards to contend with, coffee shops have sprung up, and with them the inevitable street furniture. What ever happened to shops staying within four walls? Now they flood the paths with A boards, shoe racks, and in the worst cases PA systems from which they blare “
Ok, enough of stumbling into A boards and impromptu gelding by bollards, let’s focus on something nice, the majority of the great British public. Yes, I know we’ve recently heard the worst kinds of things said about disabled people from the unthinking minorities, but go out with a white cane, and even better a guide dog, and you can come across the best of human nature. I remember one time, a friend of mine and I met in town, wanting to go to a pub, we asked a gentleman where the pub was. To cut a long story short, not only did this gentleman take us to the pub, he offered to help us read the menu, and stayed with us throughout our meal to make sure we got drinks and things, as the pub was one of those where you have to go to the bar for everything. Without this gentleman we would never have had such a normal time of it. I can’t remember his name now, but he sticks in my mind even now four months on. These people, who without prompting, seem to understand disabled people just want as normal an experience as they can possibly get , are amazing, and it is great to meet them. This gentleman helped us where we needed it, but was not overbearing, and he left us to talk in privacy, and yes, he had a beer on us, which is the least we felt we could offer him for his considerate help. I’m running out of space here, so I’ll wind up things for now, but I hope I’ve given you a little insight into how it is to be out on the town when you happen to be blind.