When people talk about accessibility the tendency is there to get a bit, well, technical.
There are times when a lot of careful planning is needed (Changing Places toilets, wheelchair-adapted play equipment for example), but not all access issues are so complex to solve.
We are lucky that we live close to a nature reserve. As a family with a dog, one of our favourite activities is to go out walking.
We love being able to take the Dude out in his wheelchair, and as more and more places understand the importance of wheelchair access in terms of paths our options to go out walking with the dog are increasing.
Unfortunately, whoever designed the access to the reserve hasn’t thought this one through as there is a permanently padlocked metal gate across the entrance and the only way round is across the make-shift bike access created by other walkers/cyclists/horse riders who use the bridleways and paths.
The gate may prevent unauthorised vehicles, but it also makes it virtually impossible for all but the fully able-bodied access the public walking routes.
Wheelchairs, pushchairs and the less-mobile need not apply.
Another example is the humble picnic table.
Often, Sam ends up stuck on the end as its impossible to get his chair anywhere closer.
One of our favourite haunts (the wonderful Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire) not only has a Changing Places loo but has recently added these lovely wooden picnic benches which are designed to accommodate a wheelchair user.
After all, it isn’t just disabled children who use wheelchairs – elderly relatives, adults with mobility issues, individuals post-surgery… wheelchairs are a common mobility aid, and no-one (I repeat, NO-ONE) wants to feel like an afterthought.
It genuinely means a lot to families like mine when companies or attractions think about issues like this that may not seem big to many.
To us, knowing that our loved ones can be included and that someone has thought about this means the world because to us, they ARE the world.