We are pleased to have Lucy Wyndham as a guest blogger. Lucy was a former Architect and is living with a a mobility impairment so is very experienced around property and commercial design.
Able bodied citizens can sometimes take for granted how easy it can be to access local amenities. This means that staff who have no experience of disability can sometimes be unaware as to how best help a customer who may need extra care or assistance. Training within the workplace is an excellent idea to help staff gain more understanding of their customers and how assist them appropriately, but ensuring the building itself has suitable access methods is another matter entirely.
Know Your Rights
You know your disability best, so it is important to also know what the law says about what measures should be taken to help you. Sometimes it is difficult for establishments to keep up to date with new rules and regulations, so knowing what you are entitled to means you can make suggestions, within your rights, that would improve ease of access for you and others around you. It is important to remember that most establishments do not deliberately want to exclude people, it is simply that they are unaware of the best ways to help people with specific needs.
Whilst it may appear to be easy for people to assist those with a wheelchair as their needs are immediately obvious, for those of us with a more hidden disability, it is harder for people to recognise the need for additional support. It can be much more challenging for these individuals as they may have specific needs that will take time to understand, which is something a lot of people in commercial spaces do not have. For these people, it is best to know in advance exactly what you may need assistance with and how best to describe this. While it may seem basic it could save a lot of time and effort when you arrive at your destination, and could give employees valuable experience as to how to further assist other people.
Each disability will provide its own set of challenges and we will all find ways to best overcome these by ourselves. Whether you work with a carer to help you navigate daily life or you manage by yourself, putting your needs first is the most important thing. Do not expect others to always know how best to help – it is frustrating for you as you know already how to overcome issues, but it could be the first time others have encountered this specific set of needs.