Disability, My Life, Travel

Taxi For A Wheelchair User?

Why can’t ever catching a taxi be simple!

Sometimes, It’s nice to get out the house, go out, meet a couple of friends and have a drink or two. But, it’s not always easy if you are disabled. Especially if part of your disability includes the use of a wheelchair.

Since I can remember, I have faced difficulties when I have boarded and used public transport, whether that is on buses, trains or other. But most of the trouble tends to be from taxis.

At home, I have an adapted vehicle that my parents drive me around in, I cannot drive myself for medical reasons.

However, they do have lives as well taking care of me, this includes full-time jobs. They are not always able to transport me to place to place. This leads me to depend on taxis to get me from A to B independently.

Often, when I phone, the company doesn’t have a taxi suitable for me in the area. This forces me to walk to places, which is fine, except one thing, my Cerebral Palsy and it causes me to have nasty spasticity in both my legs and left arm and it doesn’t react well to cold weather conditions.

Britain is not the warmest place on the planet, nor is it the coldest, but when that winter frost hits my joints seize up. The pain lasts for days and not easy to get rid of, unless I want to be under the constant influence of painkillers for days.

I know I’ve mentioned some problems I’ve had with taxi drivers in blog posts before so I won’t go too much into it again.

However, I will say disabled people, particularly in a wheelchair should have an easy as an experience as anybody else would when using public transport.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have encountered a kind taxi drivers, who have been considerate and helpful and I am very thankful to these drivers.

There are companies that I find good and I am in the habit of using often. Both the companies I use when in Birmingham or Leicester have come to know the kind of vehicle I need when they realise it is me phoning and this includes the locations that I am most likely going to be travelling between.

I think it is important for wheelchair users as well is disabled people to have taxi companies that they can use regularly to avoid any difficulties or stresses that may occur and it would be a huge weight off their mind when trying to get around.

Without going into too much detail again, I have had many difficult taxi journeys, with the challenging attitudes of taxi drivers.

I have found some drivers to be difficult and apprehensive about taking my chair and this can often lead to rude and somewhat disrespectful behavior.

I know from experience that this can be a result of lack of knowledge of the spectrum of disability and ignorance towards those who are disabled and/or are in wheelchairs.

I appreciate that I’ve already told this story before on previous blog posts, but I think it’s an important story to tell.

I am often mistreated by taxi drivers as their attitudes often prevent me from using taxis while I’m out and about, this is often linked to ignorance or the drivers having lack of knowledge towards the world of disability.

Though I have often had the problems, I have been apprehensive to speak up about my issues with taxi drivers, but this was until the incident that I had outside Birmingham New Street Station this time last year. I attended a tribunal of a taxi driver after making a statement of his behavior.

Though this was nerve-racking at the time, I knew I wanted to make a stand, not only for me, but every other wheelchair user and disabled person that has been mistreated by a taxi driver.

Unfortunately, the situation reoccurs way too often, drivers as well as a great deal of other people turn a blind eye to us as a disabled community and do not think about how their attitudes and comments can have an affect on us.

Despite whether the intention is there, the lack of acknowledgement that people give the disabled community and/or the wrong comment, can cause really hurt.

There are members of the disabled community that feel vulnerable to groups of people they are not usually exposed too and can be apprehensive to speak up, but it can be rectified and made better by communicating.

There is already mandatory training in place for all new taxi drivers when they begin working, that do cover areas of the world of disability.

However, drivers only have to complete the training once and the spectrum of ‘disability’ is so wide and so interchanging, driver’s knowledge of the world of disability soon becomes outdated.

This makes it even more important that the incidents and troubles are closely monitored to try and rectify any problem when it arises and before it can get worse.

A high number of problems that do arise have something simple at the heart of that could of easily be solved.

Something as simple communication and transparency when stimulated between city councils, taxi drivers and the disabled community and with the appropriate attitudes, important and crucial changes can be made for the future.

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