28 January 2009 Not a wheelchair user but I'm still disabled!
The launch of the transport survey has got me thinking about commuting as a non-wheelchair-using disabled person. Travelling on the tube in London during peak time (or in fact any time of the day) I don't often get a seat.
Luckily I'm okay standing for short periods of time but if it's a long journey or if I'm feeling particularly tender, I do struggle and there's not much I can do about it.
If I was an elderly person, pregnant, or used a walking stick or crutch, physically I would appear to need a seat and would therefore my fellow communters would hopefully offer me one.
But my question to you now is WHAT IF I DON'T LOOK LIKE ANY OF THE ABOVE AND STILL NEED A SEAT?
I have often considered asking someone if I can take their seat but I imagine their automatic reaction would be be to look me up and down and ask "Well why do you need a seat?"
And so they have a valid point - I don't appear to be pregnant, elderly or disabled.
But I am disabled, damn it!!
So what is the most logical thing to do in these situations?
Do I tell the person I have a disability? What if the person proceeds to ask me what kind of disability because, let's be honest, if someone claiming to be disabled doesn't look it then wouldn't you want to know what their disability is?
Or even worse, what if they don't believe me?? How can I prove I have a physical disability? And why should I prove I have a disability??
I've often wondered as it's quite a grey area and many times I've struggled whilst standing on the tube or bus and by the end of it, I'm in a lot of pain, so much so that it can ruin my whole day (and now for the violins....)
A few years ago Transport for London bought out a badge scheme for pregnant which said "Baby on Board" What would be the alternative for me? "I am disabled" Ha ha!
So the previous Mayor for London (Good ol' Livingstone) launched a new set of signs that encouraged people to give up their seat for pregnant women, as well as people with disabilities or less able to stand. Source: Transport for London
This is all very positive and encouraging but what does this bit about people with disabilities or less able to stand mean?? I have a disability and I'm very much less able to stand. How am I supposed to prove I fit in both of these categories??
All comments welcome...
David Gale replied on 29 Jan 2009 at 10:43Report abuse
I know exactly what you mean Nila as im ambulant and thankfully i dont live in London just basically for the transport involved in living there.
A lot of people make asumptions about disability being people just in a wheel chairs i have even had abuse in pubs and clubs for needing a key to the disabled loo becayse toilets are all up stairs, some lads once had a real go at me slagging me off saying i was lying.
Anyways yeah i do sometimes feel if i need a seat on transport that i dont ask someone because il just get grief about it like "why does he need it nothing wrong with him" It sometimes makes me think we all need to wear sandwich boards to prove were disabled lol
Good point though :-)
Stephen Liney replied on 30 Jan 2009 at 15:32Report abuse
going back on the whole asking for a seat issue the people that ask you the question of why you need the seat should think before they ask, why would anybody in this stituation ask for a seat if they didnt need it surely the general public that use the transport services would use a bit of common sense and not ask the question in the first place.
but its just the way peoples minds work yes you are only disabled if you use a wheelchair going by peoples perceptions and these are the people that need to be educated on the fact that there are many other physical disabillies that do not require the use of a wheelchair.
in reflection though the look on peoples faces when you tell them oh by the way its muscular dystophy i have if you really wanted to know in a way funny, on the other hand muscular dystrophy is not widely known to the public as of what it should be unless whoever it concerns may have been affected by MD in their family.
All very good issues points made that can be chaged in time hopefully by us trailblazers we shall see what the results are for the surveys which will be interesting.
another question do these train companies that make new extensions for instance a new link between oxford and london has been planned but hang on?? what about sorting out the customers with a lift at non accessible train stations that wont only be useful for us people with mobillitie difficulties but also the elderly and mothers with pushchairs etc
Jennifer replied on 30 Jan 2009 at 17:17Report abuse
i would say if you need a seat on public transport because it is difficult for you to stand after a period of time, to me it would seem that the most likely thing to do would be to ask someone if all the seats are full if he/she would mind if they stood up for a while so you could have a rest.
i would think if it were to cause you pain, and you told a person taking a seat this, then someone would give you their seat.
you shouldnt feel like you cant ask people for help. if someone were to ask why u want a seat - tell them why!
Bobby Ancil replied on 31 Jan 2009 at 10:19Report abuse
Good points and very well made.
i know a young woman in London who has LGMD and when she was sitting in the reserved disabled seating she was asked to stand up by a pensioner who assumed she was more able to stand than her. The pensioner assumed the Trailblazer was being rude to the woman and insulted her. I am sure it acn be a very difficult situation. Maybe as Jennifer says, blatant honesty is the best policy. Still not sure about this though. Anyone else got any experience of this sort of thing?
Also, I imagine for people like Dave and Stephen there must always be something of a panic when the doors close on a bus or train taht theyw ill not have time to steady themselves or sit down before the bus jerks off to a start?
Let us know, what you know!
Nila Patel replied on 18 May 2009 at 15:42Report abuse
Ha ha ha! This is funny but not that funny at all really. A mate of mine was telling me how he was sat on the tube one day and a heavily pregnant woman got on the train to find there were no available seats.
So she asked a man who was sat reading his paper "Excuse me sir, do you mind if I sit down?"
He looked up from his paper and asks "Why?"
She looks quite offended and says "I'm 8 months pregnant."
He replies with "Well it's not my fault, I didn't knock you up!"
I have to admit, it did make me laugh... An attempt to reignite this conversation after Jagdeep's recent posthttp://www.mdctrailblazers.org/news/323_accessibites-disability-id-scheme#reply_81, what do you all think of that??
Andreas Lautenschlaeger replied on 28 Sep 2009 at 13:30Report abuse
The transport providers should make sure that the seats reserved for people in need should be clearly idntified by a sign. If you need that seat you should be able just to walk over and ask for the seat to be freed for you. After all, if I sit down on a seat with that sign I am aware that I may have to give it up. I might be bit naive in this as I am not impaired, but don't you have a national ID card or similar, that identifies you as a disabled person? If so then that should be all you need. I suppose then people could turn around and say "hey, nice work with photoshop", so it needs educating. I am not sure what the school curriculum contains, but I suppose there are "more important things" to be thaught in school! Anyway, where is the british politeness gone that this country is so famed for?
Fiona Anderson replied on 13 Jan 2011 at 15:21Report abuse
I like Andreas idea about the Disabled ID card. You can't go around with your National Insurance card, disability award letter or prescription excempt card because the risks of people nicking it right out your hand is too risky in my mind. Especially when on public transport independantly. Some sort of FBI style card with a flashy seal on it stating the person is disabled therefore with some sort of flashy seal the person hogging a needed seat cannot question the one needing it.