Blog by Jonathan Fogerty, Trustee of SPIRIT:
I was very moved by this news feature. Is it not a shocking indictment of the UK in 2017?
I have been a wheelchair user for nearly 30 years and when I look back at the facilities that were available when I first became a wheelchair user, it is clear that we have much better accessible facilities and a better accessible social environment than we had in the late 1980s.
For example, I remember travelling by train from Manchester to London in the late 1980s and for the first time as a wheelchair user.
There was no wheelchair accessible space in the carriage. I had to be lifted on and off by a couple of the guards and I travelled in the guard’s van with the bags of post.
There is no doubt that facilities have improved but having said that, we still have a long way to go. Much of our transport infrastructure remains inaccessible to wheelchair users and there remains no effective body enforcing the Equality Act 2010. That is very disappointing. If somebody cannot use public transport because of a disability then what chance have they of returning to employment and contributing meaningfully to society. If they cannot access schools or colleges, how can they have an education and get qualifications in order to succeed in life. We need to decide as a society in the 21st century how we want to treat people with a disability.
I was interviewed by Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 this lunchtime about my experiences using an on-board train wheelchair accessible toilet following the story in the news about the Paralympian who was forced to wet herself as she could not gain access to the accessible toilet on board the train.
See this link to the BBC iPlayer and listen again to the programme.
The feature about accessible toilets on trains starts one hour into the programme and my interview starts at around one hour 20 minutes (or just after) into the programme… If you just want to listen to my bit!