Is it time to eat the rich yet?

I have a theory that the only people this will be read by are other disabled people, because we have been so isolated. If you’re an abled person and reading this, can you identify yourself in the comments? Doesn’t have to have your name, or anything, just a +1 or something. I just suspect that I’m preaching to the choir. All other comments are also, of course, welcome. First posts may take a minute to get through moderation though, since I don’t know how to change that setting.

 

Content: Eugenics, financial coercion, tories, politics, homelessness, medical coercion, swearing, food insecurity… The whole lot.

 

I have tried so fucking hard to keep the politics off this blog lately. Partly because I know that other people can say it better than I can and partly because it is so fucking depressing that even writing about it on my own terms makes me think life is not worth living.

Today is the budget. George Osborne declaring how he will make this country fit for “the Next Generation” and from what he’s doing it’s pretty obvious that our Next Generation will not include the disabled.

At first I’d thought it was all an accident, that it just so happened that all the cuts and all sanctions and the worst of the punishment disproportionately affected disabled people. It was very easy for me to imagine that, in the minds of the Tories, disabled people were just acceptable collateral damage in their war against the poor. But with the power of hindsight it’s obvious that the plan all along was eugenic.

 

We start off with the changes to disability living allowance. Suddenly for a disabled person to get an amount of money they could live on the have to be found not just “not fit for work” but they have to promise not to try to find work, or even to try self-employment above a ridiculously low threshold. Meaning that once a disabled person has been declared “not fit for work” it becomes very difficult for them to even try to return to the workforce – would you risk taking self-employment which could ruin your health if you knew that in taking that risk you would have the money taken away which you had been trying to live on, and that if your business failed it would be months or years before that money was restored to you if it was restored at all?

In addition to this, there is a savings cap of £6000. This sounds like a lot of money, but it won’t get you a deposit on a house, it won’t buy you a vehicle (especially not a wheelchair accessible vehicle or a vehicle with adapted controls), it won’t even buy many of the more expensive mobility aids such as tilting beds or maximally-supported powered wheelchairs.

So, in one fell swoop, disabled people are locked out of the workforce and their mobility outside the home is reduced.

At the same time, there have been massive cuts to social care budgets.Never mind the loss of the Independent Living Fund, there are now no councils in England (at least) which provide their own social care provision – the instead rely on private agencies. This in turn means that provision of carers, personal assistants, and other human-based help to disabled people has become more expensive and less available.

That, again, has reduced the mobility of disabled people outside the home. Many of us would describe ourselves not as “living” but as “subsisting”, “surviving”, or even “being kept in storage”.

The sum total of this to begin with has been to reduce the visibility of disabled people in the abled world. Less people now will have a disabled co-worker, less people will know a disabled person down the pub, and less people would describe themselves as having disabled friends. As such, to most abled people, the thought of the systematic persecution of disabled people does not bring to mind the face – a friend – who will be hurt, or even killed, by these policies. It’s tragic, but it’s tragic in the same way that the destruction of the rainforest or a melting ice flow or the extinction of a rare rhinoceros is. It’s a sad, but ultimately natural, result of an unavoidable natural process. Darwin himself tells us that the strong survive and the weak perish.

Also involved in the changes to disability funding has been a particularly cruel piece of legislation which stops disabled people from forming families. Much like housing benefit (landlord greed subsidy) does not allow the poor under-35 to live in anything more than a room in a shared house, if a disabled person lives with someone who is waged (Above a certain, low, point) they become ineligible for ESA. Effectively this means that if an out-of-work disabled person enters into a relationship with either an abled person or a disabled person who is able to work, their partner must financially support them in every way. Food, rent, bills. PIP is, after all, only supposed to cover the “extra costs of disability”.

Unless you are extremely well paid it is basically impossible to support a second adult on one person’s wage whilst maintaining any quality of life.

Thus many disabled adults are forced to either live in shared accommodation or live with their parents, even when it is detrimental to their health.

(Another cruel side-effect of this policy, since the DWP require a long “cooling off” period after a relationship has ended before awarding a disabled person the full allowance which would be granted to them as a single person. This can trap disabled people who live with their partners into staying in sub-optimal or actively abusive relationships long after they would otherwise have ended.)

 

So, disabled people are now;

  1. Living alone, or living with their parents
  2. Not socialising with abled people
  3. Unable to save money to have any kind of personal safety net, thus more totally reliant on the state

 

And then the media campaign began in earnest. 2010’s “when you leave the house at 8 AM, it’s natural to resent the man whose curtains are still closed” looks frankly tame and benign compared to more recent rhetoric.

Disabled people are “scroungers”. Disabled people are “a drain on the state”. Disabled people are “expecting something for nothing”.

Disabled people are getting “special treatment” and “your taxes are paying for it”.

Look at the comments under any article about NHS care or state support of disabled people, and you will see plenty of people who believe that disabled people shouldn’t have nice things, or shouldn’t own property, and should basically be granted the absolute minimum required to survive (something like the diet of porridge whilst living in a three deep shelving system) and that to ask for anything more is greedy.

It’s no coincidence that disability hate crimes are on the rise, and that most disabled people I know live in fear. The tabloid press colludes with the government to paint disabled people as suspicious, dishonest, and not-like-us, not “full members of society”. I’ve been spat on, kicked, had people attempt to take my dog away from me, been denied taxis and buses, been pushed to the back of queues, all the while the familiar litany drones from the crowd; “Cripple”, “Scrounger”, “Faker”, “Freak”, “Kill yourself”, “Spending my money”, “How dare you”, and the worst of them all “I’ll dob you in”.

 

The implications of “I’ll dob you in” are startling. For the blissfully unaware; the Department of Work and Pensions has a hotline which you can call to report disability benefit fraud. The only evidence required is to know a disabled person’s name, and to have seen them doing something suitably un-cripple like. This could be as simple as standing up, opening the door, smiling, going to a nightclub, riding a motorcycle, basically anything other than lying in bed. It doesn’t matter if the person has a fluctuating condition and exhausted themselves for a week in order to get a chance to sit by the canal for an afternoon. If you saw them enjoying the sunshine, and that annoyed you, you can tell the Department of Work and Pensions and their benefits will be immediately stopped pending a reconsideration.

As you can imagine this results in a lot of vexatious calls. Got a grievance with a disabled person? Instead of having an argument you could just get the government to starve them for six months. Much easier. And, best of all, calls to this hotline are anonymous meaning that you can keep making vexatious claims as often as you like with no chance of retribution.

 

Effectively, the government have enshrined the right for the people to armchair-diagnose the disabled, and hold this armchair diagnosis in higher regard than the collective opinions of the disabled person and their own doctors, and even higher than the opinions of their own assessment team.

To add to the count, disabled people are now;

  1. Living alone, or living with their parents
  2. Not socialising with abled people
  3. Unable to save money to have any kind of personal safety net, thus more totally reliant on the state
  4. Living in fear of casual hate crimes, encouraged by the press
  5. Living in fear of “not looking crippled enough” in case a stranger decides to report them

 

And then the cuts began.

First, the privatisation of removal of many NHS services which are largely used by disabled people. Ever tried to get a physio appointment with a long-term condition? How about looked at the length of surgical waiting lists? Never mind guidance on reducing the prescription of needed painkillers and other medications because they are “too expensive”.

 

People believe that. It’s easy to believe that disabled people are just “too expensive” to support – We have all these strange demands, and we make planning things more complicated, and, honestly, who knows any really disabled people anyway? And obviously the ones on painkillers are junkies, and the ones who use a wheelchair part-time are fakers, and anyone who uses a blue badge or a priority seat is taking a lend, so why should we support these horrible, unproductive, useless eaters anyway?

Now, it’s the cuts to ESA (Why should a cripple get more money than any other jobseeker?) and then finally, today, the planned cuts to PIP (Wherein any disabled person who uses an appliance instead of human help will no longer qualify).

 

The result is that many disabled people, possibly even most disabled people, will have no money at all unless they can find and keep work. Which, with some disabilities, will just be impossible – It’s hard to find an employer who will let you take infinite sick days for pain, or to sleep in the afternoons, or work variable shifts, when often you might have only minimal education due to a lack of university provisions for disabled students, and the prohibitive cost of university for most people anyway.

 

The real-world result of this is that disabled people will die. We are already dying. The government is reluctant to release figures about deaths after benefit sanctions, deaths after being found for work, and deaths whilst waiting for benefits to be awarded. That’s even before we look at figures for homelessness, housing vulnerability, morbidity associated with poor diet, poor mental health outcomes due to lack of physical security or social inclusion, and all the other likely outcomes of taking a population who are already very sick and discriminated against and taking away their money and their rights.

 

Recent conversations between myself and other disabled people have tended to all point towards a similar conclusion; that the next step will be something like a workhouse. Now that we are entitled to less monetary compensation, and without the support that has helped us to find work in the past, it might seem like an obvious solution to the problem. House the disabled people in a big Institute somewhere, give them simple work sewing underpants, and in return for that work they will get regulation clothing, and medications, and room in a bunkhouse. They won’t need money; everything they could possibly need will be provided. Asking for choice in what to eat, or the opportunity to socialise, or raise a family, or keep pets, or live where they want, or pursue a hobby or education or a career of their own choosing, will be parsed as greed. And the general populace will say “isn’t that nice? The government have made it so easy to care for those poor people. I remember before the workhouses, they all lived in poverty and alone and afraid.” And, of course, the government will make a tidy profit selling our labour to the kind of multinational corporations that they are so keen to protect and attract to our shores.

 

Considering everything else, this doesn’t feel far-fetched any more. The UN is investigating the UK for grieviously violating the human rights of disabled people. This isn’t just a few frightened people who think the sky is falling.

One of these outcomes could have been an unfortunate accident. Two or three of them, perhaps a thoughtless snowballing of circumstances, which would obviously be rectified as soon as it was noticed. But all of them? This is a campaign. This is eugenics. This is a naked attempt to isolate, scapegoat, weaken and eventually (judging by history) murder an entire sector of the population, whilst blaming them for the sins of the rich.

 

If I don’t survive this government, know at least that I saw it coming.

 

The best of intentions.

Today was overall a win. I went out to the charity shops, which I now plan to do once a week as a leg-stretch and an attempt to do some weight-bearing exercise.

An armful of purchases:

– One big lump of hammer-broken red-brown-orange-purple cullet glass, that’s about the shape and size of a lung, which reminds me of a similar lump of glass which my great-aunt used to keep for luck at the bingo. Hers was green, and we have no idea where it is now, other than that I hope it’s still in the family. I’ll photograph the one that I have, and ask my Mam if she remembers it.
– One silver candlestick, to add to the slightly Victorian feel of my living room and also because candlelight is incredibly relaxing when in pain.
-One crystal ship’s decanter, to add to the collection (or I may yet give it away as a present).
– One massive industrial weaving shuttle, for keeping my medication in – Sadly I couldn’t afford to buy the second one, which had artificial flowers glued into it and was a proper bit of Yorkshire folk art.
– One cheap denim jacket, on which to sew my NABD patches and assorted others.
– One turned brass goblet, which looks like it fits into the category of “Things that someone made whilst working in manufacturing, when they should have been making something else” which is my favourite category of things (Probably because much of my grandparents’ house when I was little was furnished with woodwork and metalwork that my grandfather and great-grandfather had made when they worked in the shipyards)
– One walking stick, with ice crampon.

All for less than about £15 total, and all of which will get good use.

But there was also a disaster – There is always a disaster.

At the hospice shop, just as I was about to leave – And after a lovely twenty-minute conversation about Northern glassworking and history and stuff – one of the staff cornered me.
“Have you had an operation?”
I wasn’t immediately uncomfortable about the question, but her body-language bothered me. She’d cornered me into the shop, between two aisles, so I couldn’t get out or away, or even turn aside.
“Ha,” I said “No, just unlucky.”
99.8 percent of the time, people understand that this means that I don’t want to talk about it.
“Oh, so are you weak then?”
I didn’t answer, I just sort of shrugged noncomittally and tried to step backwards. She stepped forwards, and asked again, a bit louder;
“Are you weak? Is it weakness? Or is it pain? Or do you get tired like?”

I realise now that I should have just said “I don’t want to talk about it”, but it’s very hard to say that when you’re trying to stay polite, and when your mental conversational options are either “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” or “Fuck you and the goat you rode in on”.

“Dislocations.” I replied, then as her arm came out to pat me on the back, I added “I’m really fragile, I basically can’t be touched.”

So she took this as an invitation to hug me around the shoulders, as tightly as she could.

Both shoulders, one of which was already pretty stressed from holding me upright on the stick, and the other which was already under stress from having a heavy bag dangled off it, concertinaed inwards.

I let out a little scream, and crumpled towards the floor. She tried to pull me up by the arm, as I protested “No, no, please let go of me, I just need to get down to the floor. I’m a bit faint. I’ve got two dislocated shoulders.”

After a long few seconds, I was kneeling on the floor, clutching my useless arms and trying to remember how to inhale, and she was standing over me and apologising profusely.

“You’ve gone all red. I’m really sorry!”

And she really was really, really sorry. She obviously cared, and was worried that she’d hurt me, and was having to come to terms quite fast with the fact that she’d crippled someone who was barely upright in the first place.

I shrugged out of my leather jacket, and started popping my shoulders back into their processes. – Both clavicles were out of place, both glehohumerals were out of place. Nothing too complicated, just painful and taking a while to reset.

“Would you like a cup of tea? Or a hot chocolate? Or water?”

I wanted out, as fast as fucking possible, but I still had things to pay for and still had to get back in one piece.

“A glass of water, actually, that’d be good” I said, to get myself some space.

She went off to get one, and I continued re-setting my shoulders. The other assistant came over, bringing a stool for me to perch on, and said;

“Oh you know, we’re really sorry, she’ll not sleep tonight I bet. She didn’t mean any harm. I mean. She couldn’t have known. Can I help at all?”

I thought for a second, mulling over how she definitely could have known, if she’d listened for a second, and pragmatism overcame pride;

“Can you put a hand on the flat of my back here, and push as hard as you can?”

“Ooh, not too hard…” she said, obviously still knowing my condition better than I do, and gave a feeble press onto my scapula. I pushed back, raised my arm, and cracked my shoulder into place. She flinched a bit, then said “I’ve seen people faint with pain from a dislocation before. You must be very brave.”

I shrugged. I wanted to give my speech about how it’s not brave – How every time you say “You’re so brave!” to someone just for living with a disability, you’re basically saying “How aren’t you in an institution?” or “How aren’t you dead?” She started patting me on the shoulder. Repeated taps with a little circley-rub in the middle, basically the worst possible thing to do to a freshly-dislocated shoulder.

“Please, don’t. Be careful.” I said. She stood up and backed away;

“Ooooh, sorry. You know, it’s just instinct. Hard to not.”

Reallyy? Really person-who-met-me-two-seconds-ago, it’s hard for you to not keep bloody touching me?

The first assistant, the one that had started the whole debacle, came back, just as I said;

“Even my closest friends can’t just touch me without warning. We shake hands, carefully.”

Honestly, I didn’t think that it would have ever been something that I’d need to explain to strangers. I and my friends tend to hug in an extremely gentle, basically-rest-your-head-on-the-other’s-chest-or-shoulder-and-put-a-hand-on-their-waist kind of way, which is both tremendously rare (Why hug someone when it’s probably going to hurt?) and tremendously intimate (Again, if it’s that rare, of course it has emotional value).

She sat down opposite me, as the second assistant went back to the till, and said;

“So, have you been like this since you were a baby, then? It must be very hard.”

I shrugged.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds.”

“But have you always been like this? Since you were a baby?”

I think that the worst part is when people just repeat questions, when you don’t want to answer them. Where there is no reason for them to ask the question, and no reason for them to need to know the answer. Suddenly I wasn’t the interesting person that knew all about the local mills and the Sunderland glassmaking tradition, I was The Cripple. And people talk to The Cripple about Disability.

“It got worse when I was about twenty. But I’m doing fine. Cracking on.”

“So, can they do anything for you?”

That is the question that I wish could be stricken from the vocabulary of anyone. Sorry, you must reach at least Level Fifteen Friendship before you can force me to confront my prognosis of increasing pain and decreasing function until the bottom of the morphine bottle looks like a lovely destination for a really long one-way trip. Do not just casually ask a disabled person “if anything can be done”. The answer might well be “Well, surgery next year, and then I’ll be abled again,”, or it might be “Lots of medication and physio and hard work”, or “Actually I’m dying”.

Think about that one.

I answered, anyway;

“Painkillers, mostly.”

She looked sympathetic.

“It must be terrible.”

“It’s fine.” I insisted.

She patted me on the shoulder, giving it a good hard shake that re-dislocated it, and I doubled over in pain again. She started apologising, again. This time, evidently, it was at least a little bit amusing – After all, this ridiculous, completely unpredictable thing had happened twice now.

I popped the shoulder back into place, and took an enormous swig of morphine. First assistant tried to catch what was on the label.

“Well,” I insisted, standing up, “I’ve got to be off.”

She helped me into my jacket, and I let her, since that would probably give her some sense of absolution, and she held out a hand for me to very carefully shake.

I went on my way. Feeling like shit and in a lot of pain, and wondering why I was more worried that I’d traumatised two shop assistants than about the persistent, twitchy pain in my shoulders.

In better news – I got out on the bike yesterday, for the first time since the last time I went to the garage, and it was… To go to the garage and buy a mudguard. On the other hand, I now HAVE the mudguard, so I can hopefully ride up to the whittling workshop in the woods tomorrow (Delicious alliteration there). And the day before yesterday, Dearest joined the motorcycling fraternity, with his like being delivered next Wednesday. And he’s joined the NABD too. And our year bars for 2016 have arrived. It’s all very exciting. Might be going to my first rally in May as well, if I feel up to camping…

Water torture

So, today I rang the pool to ask them to confirm the state of the disabled changing rooms (Since, thanks to the new sign, I can’t change in the general population changing room anymore).

Here’s a quick diagram of the pool to help anyone having difficulty envisaging the layout;

pool layout

So, this evening, being more than a week since my last swim and thus getting very, very sore and out-of-shape, I rang the pool to ask about the disabled facilites. I’d used them before, and vaguely remembered there being no lockers in them, but thought I should ring up to check whether I’d just missed them.

And the phone call went roughly as follows.
Me: “Hi, I was wondering what the disabled changing facilities were like, for the pool?”
Reception: “They’ve got everything, a shower and all that”
Me: “How about a locker?”
Reception:”No, you’d have to use the locker in the ladies’ changing”
Me: “Aren’t they through those heavy doors?”
Reception: “They’re all on the same corridor”
Me: there’s two really heavy doors in the way, and a right-angle turn that I’d have to do carrying a bag. Which will be really difficult, on crutches”
Reception: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s just there on the same floor, the ladies’ changing.”
Me: “But they’re not accessible, that’s why there’s a disabled changing area.”
Reception: “You’d have to go through the ladies’ anyway to use the shower before getting in the pool”
Me: “But there’s step on either side of that”
Reception: “Oh, you could get someone to help you”
Me: “No thanks, I’ll leave it”
Reception: “Oh well, suit yourself.”

So, here’s that same diagram annotated with the paths that a disabled person is meant to do, as compared to a hypothetical perfect abled person, and the path I’d been taking. Lest we forget as well, the corridor between the disabled changing room and the pool is single-glazed and when the door is open, is open to the elements, so it always cold enough that on wet, bare skin it’s dangerous. Abled people are never asked to try to walk through it in their wet swimming kits.

The paths the disabled are asked to take;

pool layout paths

The path the abled are asked to take;

abledpath

And the path I’d been taking;

mypath

And I seem to be the only person who is looking at this and thinking that it’s completely ridiculous. They’re asking people who can’t safely use a small changing cubicle to risk their health even further by adding 2-6 extra door pushes/pulls to their routine, doubling their walking distance, and crossing a freezing-cold external corridor whilst first in only their swimming kit, and then in their swimming kit and soaked to the skin.

All because someone tutted at the thought of seeing people getting changed.

Changing times

I’ve been going to the same public baths for about seven years, and I’m very much a creature of habit. I put my bag down on the end of the bench, whichever end has the least people near it or least used lockers, open the door, put my shoes in the bottom of it, then get changed into my skin. I put my clothes in the bag, then put the towel on top of everything, lock the locker, and tie the key to my ankle. Then I get a quick splash under the shower (The only person who actually takes notice of that bit of protocol…) and get into the pool.

On the way back out I get into the showers again, strip down, wash the chlorine off myself and wring out my fastskin, then return to my locker, get dressed, and leave.

The changing room has cubicles, about five metres away from the lockers, which I don’t use.

I don’t change at my locker out of some kind of principle, I change at my locker because it’s unsafe for me to use the cubicles – They’re small locked boxes with no grab-rails, no room to balance properly on a crutch, and if I fall I’ve not got the space to catch myself before I hit the ground. Plus, if I faint or injure myself in the main room, I’m able to easily get help – This isn’t a complete hypothetical, this has happened more than a dozen times since I started coming to the pool in 2009. Not to mention that carrying a towel, a rucksack, my coat, my boots, a water bottle and a bottle of morphine back and forth from a cubicle to the locker over a series of trips would probably knacker me out before getting in the pool, and likewise would make getting changed back at the end of the session impossible. Try doing all of that one-handed whilst balancing on an elbow crutch.

In the showers, I take off my fastskin and rinse, because washing whilst wearing it doesn’t adequately rinse the chlorine off my skin. I’ve got incredibly sensitive skin, so letting dirty pool water dry on it under the water-resistant fastskin makes it dry, itch, then sometimes flake off entirely. It’s not a matter of principle, again, it’s a matter of staying healthy.

The baths don’t really have disabled changing rooms, or rather the ones they do have are on the other side of a freezing corridor, behind two heavy doors, and don’t have lockers in them. The shower also, on the one occasion I tried to use it, had no water pressure and ran cold.

Today, after my swim, I saw a new sign up in the changing rooms;

“Would all customers please change and shower discreetly when schoolchildren are present”

I gave it an eyebrow raise, and finished getting dressed, then caught the duty manager on the desk on the way out.

“So, I just saw the sign in the changing rooms” I said, more than a bit nervously because frankly this conversation could never go well. “I think this means I can’t use the changing rooms anymore, since I can’t use the cubicles and I can’t not shower in the showers”.

“Yes,” he said “But it’s because of the changing rooms…” he trailed off, and looked embarrassed, and as if there should be some shared cultural understanding that changing rooms were not places where humans should get changed in.

“So, can you look up when there’s going to be a swim where you can guarantee there being no schoolchildren in the changing room, then?” I asked, trying to see if he could see the problem here.

“Oh” he replied “Well, you can just go to the adult swims, then.”

I thought for a second, then got the timetable from the desk between us, and read it slowly.

“But,” I said eventually “They’re always bookended by club sessions and things, which are full of bairns, so I’d still be sharing the changing room with them.”

He looked again, and highlighted the sessions, then started writing on them;

“Well,” he said, explaining what he was doing “You can just come up fifteen minutes later to the sessions, they’re usually gone by then.”

I looked at the paper as he handed it back to me. I could go to five sessions, all of them now cut short by fifteen minutes at least, turning a sensible hour-long session into a forty-five minute one, and presumably into a half-hour one if there were any children in the pool (As there often are after club sessions, when they want to stay on and keep training beyond the end of their allotted time).

I thanked him, turned away, and went home.

Upon getting home, I started explaining the issue to Dearest, and he confirmed to me that there was nothing unusual about changing at ones locker, indeed that everyone in the men’s side did that.

There are two problems here;

  1. If I do go back and change as normal, now that I’ve “been warned” so to speak, I feel like there’s a chance I’d end up on the sex offenders’ register.
  2. If I start this fight, I will always be the one that had a mardy about not being able to get changed in public.

There are a couple of advantages here;

  1. I could use this to get the boot in the door about the baths getting better disabled changing, since ideally there’d be accessible changing for disabled people, which I would much rather use than having to make-do in the general population room.
  2. I’ve got an In with the local council.
  3. The Equalities Act is probably on my side.

Right now though, a lot of crying and bemoaning the loss of the last vestige of my physio plan is in order.

Toktogi is on

Loop

So, today I got an email informing me that tomorrow’s tutorial was on the second floor of a building that had no lifts and that I know from experience has heavy doors all over it. It’s also about a quarter of a mile away from the registration point for the tutorial, uphill, and across a busy road.

The email include the flippant line;

” We are very busy tomorrow and you have no students with mobility issues (assuming I haven’t missed anyone!) which is why you are across the road from the [Main Venue]  You will have to get there now via the [Very Far Away] building – this is because the side entrance facing the [Building Where You Register] is having a refurb, reopening in January 2016.”

Oh, thank you, admin person. Thank you for saying “Unless I’ve missed anyone!” at the last minute, instead of asking at the start of the week, in an email that I recieved right at the close of office hours, when it was just slightly too late to kick up a fuss about it. And, indeed, where tomorrow I’ll have to set off so early that I won’t be able to phone ahead to get the room changed, because the university won’t be open.

I mean, it’s not like you could have asked the disabled students’ office to check with me if I had any mobility issues, or even just to take a wild guess that a disabled student with multiple named conditions might have mobility trouble.

Pretty sure that this actually falls foul of the Equalities Act. Also fairly certain that I don’t have the stamina to protest it.

There’s only four tutorials per year, and now I’m going to miss the first one. No way whatsoever that I might have found it useful, anyway, what with my executive function issues and my complete lack of confidence in this course, and my needing a fairly close rapport with tutors in order to get work done.

So, that’s my academic year off to a blinding start. Not to mention that I’ve been in a horrible state for much of the week, have self harmed more than I’m comfortable with, and am probably going to miss next week’s Sisters Of Mercy gig because I’m too panicky.

The Onion of Accommodation

Accessibility is both fractal and contradictory, and that’s what’s been giving me a metaphorical headache atop my literal migraine lately.

Writing in short paragraphs (or bulletpoints) and using single-clause sentences increases accessibility for people with any kind of cognitive issues.

Writing in concise formats and keeping the thought processes linear is also often difficult for people with some cognitive issues.

Replacing short flights of stairs with long, shallow ramps improves accessibility for electric wheelchair users.

It also makes it harder for people on crutches, since they’ll have to walk much further, instead of the comparatively short stair ascent.

Having the lights and volume turned down low helps people with migraines and sensory processing problems not get overwhelmed by information.

It also makes it harder for partially-Deaf or visually-impaired people to take part.

Using a constantly-turning euphemism treadmill allows people to not have to be faced with upsetting language in their activism.

But it also excludes anyone who doesn’t have the cognitive ability to keep up, and often results in people being branded as bigots when their intent is good, but their terminology is old-fashioned.

My local pool is fantastic – But it has no meaningful failities for disabled people. The disabled changing room isn’t accessible from the poolside (You have to walk, in swimming kit, through a freezing-cold corridor and push and pull open at least two heavy doors), and doesn’t have a locker. The ramp is steeper than 1:12, and there’s no disabled parking.

Against this, though, it has a pool hoist, and every single member of staff is willing to help and keeps in-mind the disabilities of the regulars.

Are they a dreadful institution that should be boycotted until they install a non-dangerous changing room for disabled people (and preferably a sauna), or are they doing their best with limited facilities, and thus should be patronised by disabled people so that they can justify to the council that they need funding to improve?

Reminding the public that disabilities are often painful, life-limiting and distressing gets across that we’re not just lazy scroungers, but conversely it makes the general public less likely to rely on disabled people as employees, partners or friends.

Reminding the public that a life with disability isn’t automatically a miserable tragedy boosts morale in disabled people, but also leads to “inspiration porn” and the idea that it can’t be all that bad to be disabled if disabled people are actors and pilots and successful novelists.

Balance is probably key, as ever.