by Steven Hastings
Photos by Katie Kennedy
I didn’t climb a mountain today, but I did get out of bed.
My name is Steven and I turned 40 in 2022.
I have a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), or Brittle Bones and I use a Powered Wheelchair.
I need help every morning to get dressed and then I wiggle backwards from my bed into my wheelchair.
I live with my parents in a house with an upstairs, but my bedroom is a downstairs extension.
There is a ramp at the front door of the house and a ramp leading to a patio into my bedroom.
Getting Out and About
I can’t drive but I have a Motability car with a ramp that I drive my wheelchair into, and I go out in my car most days.
I like going to cafes, shops and garden centres.
I am a volunteer with the Clydesider and we meet every two weeks at the Work Connect Building in Levengrove Park which is all on the level.
I have received a lot of help from Stepping Stones, a mental health charity based in Clydebank.
I attend one of their groups on a Thursday in Saint Augustine’s Church in Dumbarton which also has good access.
Most places I go to are accessible although there have been times when this is not the case.
I once tried a venue out for an event and, with help, I used a portable ramp to go into the building.
But it was so steep I couldn’t face doing it again, so I was unable to attend the event.
Sometimes you can phone ahead, and they say there is disabled access but then you find it’s not suitable.
Even a very small step can stop me getting into shops or cafés.
I once had a powered wheelchair which turned out not to be very good at going down small steps as it would get caught.
I went to a chip shop for dinner, with help I got over the very small step to go in but after dinner when I was leaving, I got stuck so was half-way in and half-way out the door.
As he could see I was stuck the manger let me use another door which was flatter.
I think it would be helpful if the government gave businesses a grant to improve their disabled access.
Building Safe Access Together
I like Lego and I remember seeing an article and video in 2020 about a lady in Germany who built ramps out of Lego and put them at shop doorways to help wheelchair users and also highlight wheelchair access issues to the public.
The Lego bricks were glued into place but as it was only manual wheelchair users using them, I’m not sure if they could take the weight of a powered wheelchair.
The ramps are only for small steps but are now all over the town of Hanau in Germany to highlight wheelchair access issues.
If people park their car too far on to a pavement, I usually can’t get my wheelchair past and must go on the road which can be dangerous.
When crossing a road, I need a flat kerb on either side.
When they are high, I again need to go on the road.
I haven’t seen this for a long time, but I have been in disabled toilets where you can’t move for stuff.
In one there was a large TV in a box and in a disabled toilet in a restaurant there were a couple of shelves full of stock like cans of juice and things in plastic bags.
Luckily, I was okay but I was concerned something might fall and injure me.
Things seemed to improve slightly after the Disability Discrimination Act was passed in 2004.
Then new buildings were to have one accessible entrance and older buildings were made accessible where possible.
When I was a child, I couldn’t go into my local newsagents in my powered wheelchair but sometime after October 2004 a ramp was put in.
On the whole, I can get about most places but there is still a lot to be done to make everywhere truly accessible for all.
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