Society is very ableist on how it is built, and how it functions. Small changes are being made to accommodate the disabled community, but this happens out of demand and necessity as opposed to willingness!
There are many different disabilities within the disabled community, so I cannot speak for all, but I see minimal efforts made by society are accommodating to each of them. It is a matter of what has to be done in order to follow building regulations compared to what needs to be done. These efforts are put in half-heartedly and do just the basics of what is expected.
Building regulations state that every new build should have a form of ramp and disabled toilet. The operators of an older property need to have an access statement which says how they will cater for disabled people. But that’s just to keep up with regulations in order to open. There are often times in buildings where the first or main floor is accessible but not the second or further up. This scenario plays out in cafés or in restaurants. It is within the regulations that there should be no additional facilities on non-accessible levels. This is preposterous.
Then, if shopping centres or apartment buildings have lifts installed, despite it not being mandatory I think there should be two lifts available in the building in case one fails to operate. This would always allow someone with mobility disabilities, such as myself, to have access to the entire building like everyone else.
Society has become very adaptable to catering to the diet culture, such as veganism or gluten-free options, but they haven’t given the same thought to the disabled community.
As I found myself growing up, I always had to behave older than the rest of my peers or behave in a more mature way in going about life because of the extra need to prepare. I didn’t have the freedom my friends had with spontaneity as I always had to have a plan in place or have knowledge of the location where I was going. Asking myself important questions beforehand, such as; is there an accessible entrance, can I access all parts of the location, how will we get there and how long will we be there? There is always a worry about how long I will be at a location as it is dependent on if there is a suitable toilet for me. With my friends, we could go to the local cinema, but I would have to choreograph everything. Sometimes if we wanted to do things after the film or we would be out for longer periods, I would have to split my day in half as I would have to leave halfway through to use the toilet. The cinema is just one of the many places that have a standard disabled toilet, but for disabilities like mine, they aren’t accommodating for everyone.
I agree that there have been more arrangements for disabilities put into place, but there still isn’t enough. There are more buildings with ‘Changing Places’, which is a full disabled bathroom with a hoist, but these aren’t yet a requirement for all buildings or complexes to have. What is a ‘Changing Places’ and why is it Important? Only a few locations have the facilities and it becomes a case of where they are in proximity to where I am and whether I can use it (is the hoist in working condition?). It’s all well and good installing the facilities but they have to be continuously maintained properly and treated with respect.
‘Changing Places’ really needs to be as apparent as a standard-sized toilet. In the times when there are ‘Changing Places’ in proximity to where I am and they are in operation, I can relax and I’m able to enjoy myself more by being out for the full day rather than having to cut my day short. There really needs to be such facilities installed in complexes or central shopping centres and they must be operational; it will make so many lives easier.
There’s a vast number of disabilities and not everyone with one disability is affected in the same way. I can understand to a certain extent that society may not be able to accommodate everyone in the disabled community to live in a perfect reality, but I wish society and governments would be more aware and empathetic of those with a disability. If they have a better understanding of our daily lives, then maybe we as a community could live happier, more independent lives.