Spinal Cord Injury Community

My Time in A Wheelchair Has Opened My Eyes to the Challenges

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
07/27/16  12:00 PM PST
In a wheelchair

“My Time in A Wheelchair Has Opened My Eyes to the Challenges” by Graeme Kelly for The Sydney Morning Herald

It’s easy to take good health and an able body for granted, which is perhaps why our city, transport systems and homes are so poorly designed to meet the needs of those less fortunate.

Something as simple as an accident, injury, or simply ageing, can leave people unable to travel, work or engage in their community. That isn’t just bad news for those individuals left to deal with the physical, emotional, mental and financial stress of serious injury or disability, it’s also socially irresponsible, robbing our communities and workplaces of valuable participants.

Going through life as an able-bodied man I was as guilty as anyone of this failure. Then, last month, I fell while working around the yard. My right leg and ankle were shattered in three places. Surgeons inserted pins and screws to hold it all together. Suddenly I was living life on the other side of the fence. Unable to walk, shower alone, dress myself, cook, drive or travel to work, I saw first-hand the challenges, difficulties and discrimination that so many Australians have to deal with daily.

While I’d never seek to speak for those who live each day with a disability – our nation is blessed with many wonderful advocates – I have had my eyes opened by my own experiences.

Like most, my house was not equipped to accommodate my incapacity. Stairs restrict my ability to move around while the combined bathtub shower is impossible to get in and out of.

Living on the outskirts of the city, public transport options are limited. What is available poses challenges. Many stations lack lifts, so I can’t use them. Those that are accessible aren’t always staffed, making it hard to get assistance when needed.

After running the transport gauntlet, the next challenge is the diabolical state of many public spaces and thoroughfares. Uneven walkways, potholes, awkward steps, obstacles – both static and of the inconsiderate human form – vastly restrict movement. Just getting to an appointment with my doctor is an ordeal.

Read the Full Article at The Sydney Morning Herald. 

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