A trip to Wigan for the football. We left the game wondering when the Oldham players were going to turn up and then spent an hour getting off the retail park adjoining the stadium. Parking close to the ground seemed a good idea to assist my slow moving legs. Indeed, we accessed via a side gate and were shown into a lift upto the concourse and our seats. But the after game delays and the body of a middle aged man required relief after the two hour drive to drop friends off in Rochdale were a problem.
Chris wanted some shampoo, so we headed to Tesco. I swung left to the disabled loo. A quick check for others with more severe disabilities and in I went. Joyous handles to lower myself with. And the excitement of effective internal workings for the first time in weeks.
Wash the old hands, turn round and check the mirror on the wall opposite the sink. To discover I could only see the reflection of my knees. The mirror ran from ground level to three feet up the wall.
Now the assumption that a wheelchair user might use such a facility is a good one. I have no problem at all with it. But the chances of me being able to lower myself to a crouched position in front of this mirror, without risking significant pain in hips and pelvis, is ridiculous.
It’s not as if I get excited about looking at myself in the mirror, but a quick glance before returning to public site is never a bad idea. Yet here I find myself, disabled, to the maximum value state sponsored Personal Independence Payments allow, being unable to utilise a mirror in a Tesco loo because of the ridiculous assumption that it will only be used by wheelchair users or unusually short people.
I am genuinely glad not to need a wheelchair. Yet. But those in charge of disabled facilities, be they in supermarkets, football stadia, or anywhere the public roam, need to focus on more than just the wheelchair user. Disability comes in many forms and only designing services for the wheelchair is just a horrendous exclusion and oversight for millions of others.
Half height mirrors? Stuff you Tesco.
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