Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Busy Week only part way through

Dear All,

I attended a Disability Forum on Monday and was horrified to hear how some people treat disabled people.

The reason I attend meetings like this is for a positive impact on the local community and hope that things get implemented nationally for the benefit of others.

One thing that made my blood boil was two ladies who attend this meeting are blind and have guide dogs. They use public transport and have great difficulty obtaining assistance from members of the public or staff on these services.

School children are kicking and stamping on their guide dogs whilst they use public transport. These dogs are not pets and without them they could not get about and would be trapped indoors.

I hope that things improve radically in the future so that the people who are doing this stop and realise what impact their actions are having.

I am disgusted to know that these things are taking place and was so appalled I am doing something about it.

The transport providers are being asked to attend the forum on a regular basis so that problems can be addressed and I really hope that this one gets resolved sooner rather than later.

Another issue that comes up regularly is mothers will not collapse their buggies to allow a wheelchair user on a bus or train so that the disabled person can occupy the space allocated for a wheelchair. The wheelchair sign is only guidance at present and until 2016 can not be enforced.

All the drivers can do is patiently ask a mother to put her buggy down if she refuses then the disabled person cannot access their chosen mode of transport thus resulting in them being left behind at the bus stop.

Years ago it was second nature to give up a seat to a disabled person without being asked now it seems it has to be leglislated upon. This nation seems so full of bureaucracy and red tape that many disabled people feel discriminated against and just don't have the fight in them to beat the bureaucrats.

I am searching for ways around the guide dog situation and how to stop it, if anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Best wishes



  1. Yes, Fee, I agree that things need to change in society to help people who are disabled. But in regards to mothers not collapsing their pushchairs, a lot of the problem may be that they may need to keep the child in the pushchair on the bus becauses they don't have enough hands to hold their child, their shopping,and collapse the pushchair - particularly if they have shopping at the bottem of the pushchair. I think most parents would be sympathetic to disabled pasengers but, with the best will in the world, if their is no one to help the mother with her pushchair and shopping what is she supposed to do? It may boil down to a practical issue and not ignorance or the mother not wanting to help the disabled person.

    Instead of having a pop at mothers with pushcairs if the disabled person has an issue they should be encouraging the driver to help, and also lobbying the bus company and policy makers to improve bus services for mothers with pushchairs and disabled people who use the bus services. There have been many reports of buses sailing past mothers with pushchairs because they have no room to accommodate them - so in a way they are being descriminated against too.

    Why don't you spend some time talking to mothers with pushchairs who use the buses and find out why they don't collapse their pushchairs instead of just assuming they are doing it on purpose to make the disabled person's life as difficult as possible, which I am sure is not always the case.

    I think it's brilliant that you are campaigning for better facilities for disabled people but you need to get your facts right before you go accusing other members of the public of discrimination and obstruction. It's not easy being a mum with a push chair and shopping etc so they need to be cut some slack too. I know because I've been there and I've also been in the position of trying to get my mum on and off buses (she was registered blind and had spinal problems).

    Re the school kids on the bus stamping on the dogs feet - that is up to the bus driver to make the offending kids get off the bus. Also if you can find out which school the kids go to you can approach the head teacher and they can send letters round the parents and have assemblies about it to better inform their pupils about acceptable behaviour on public transport - with the understanding that persistant offender will have their bus passes revolked or be barred from that bus service.

    It should be about working together to find solutions not blaming able bodied people for the actions of the minority. The buses have limited space and too many people trying to access the seats. But that's an issue logistics and ergonomics which is the domain of the bus companies and council.

    Julie xx

  2. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your opnion, yes I will contact mothers to see how the transport issue affects them too. For those that it really affects I know that there is a bus transport forum too and these issues are going to be discussed at the next meeting to help both groups.

    When speaking to other people about this issue many mothers were forced years ago to fold their buggies up whether it was easy for them to do so or not to allow a disabled person in a wheelchair on the bus.

    It just seems that society has changed so much that these issues need addressing.

    A lot of it boils down to money as to how to solve these problems and what is going to be cost effective in the eyes of the public transport service providers.

    I will persevere and find out all I can about these issues to try and solve them.

    It just seems such a shame that so many disabled are being hurt physically by people not looking out for them and what they are doing with shopping baskets or shopping trolleys, or that aids are being kicked from under them or that guide dogs are being hurt when there is no need for it.

    I just want to make life better for everyone so that there is no fear of going out whether the journey be for pleasure or shopping.

  3. But 'forcing' mothers to fold up their buggies is not the answer, Fee! It is physically impossible to try and juggle a child, a baby, shopping and a buggy. What do you suggest? That mothers who have the audacity to dare venture out on to a bus should just stay at home instead?

    I think the key word here is PUBLIC. It is a public bus service and therefore all members of society whether disabled or not are fully entitled to use them. If people start having a go at mothers for something that is out of their control then that is as bad as not being helpful to people with disabilities.

    I think if you tried to handle having a child, a buggy and a baby on a bus you would realise that it isn't a picnic for mothers either. They are not refusing to collapse their buggies to make a disabled person's life difficult - believe me. I think drivers should take more of a helpful role in this. But if a mother is already on the bus and a person with disabilities comes on the bus and there is no room - what do you expect the driver to do? Throw the mum and kids and buggie off the bus so the disabled person can take their place?

    If a mother or any other member of the public who does not have disabilities is sitting in a space or seat designated for disabled person's useage only then that is catergorically the driver's fault as they should have stopped them from sitting there in the first place.

    Safety wise, a mother has to do what is safest for her child - a child, particularly a baby is vunerable and if a mother is forced to stand on a bus with babe in arms and the bus jerks, stops suddenly, etc then that baby could be injured which is not acceptable.

    You have to view mothers with young kids and babies and buggies in a similar way you would a disabled person or anyone else with special travelling needs. Both the mother and disabled person have special needs when travelling and they must be addressed. There is a lot more legislation geared towards helping disabled people then there are mothers. Plus a lot more members of the public would help a disabled person rather than a struggling mum.

    Your original comment didn't mention aids being kicked out from underneath disabled people or them being hit by people with bags etc - but I feel that you really should take it up with the shops themselves. You talk as though everyone is against disabled people and is out to make life difficult for them which isn't the case. A lot of people,myself included, take offence when I know I go out of my way to help people who are disabled, yet we get lumped in with the minority who, I think you will find, are disrespectful to everyone, not just disabled people. Sometimes, I am afraid to ask if someone with disabilities wants help for fear of being called 'over protective' or belittling, or making assumptions about the person's coping ability, but even though I might get a negative response and a scowl I still offer my help. If they don't need it that's fine. But I'd rather offer than not.

    Please do not throw mothers in a bad light for trying to do their shopping and look after their children and use the bus. For some of them,the bus is their ownly means of transport. If you take that attitude with them in your research you will not help your cause. Yes, the buses needed to be improved but having a go at other bus users is not the answer - lobbying the government and bus companies are.


  4. I have experience both sides of this. As a young mother with a double buggy two children under two and shopping was a far worse experience than anything that I had to put up with as a wheelchair user. But as a wheelchair user I would never have dreamt of using a bus to get about simply because buses on the whole are not designed to cater for wheelchair users, which is sad in many ways but there again buses aren't designed for mothers' with buggies and small children either.
    I think in all fairness though there are far more mothers who need to use buses than there are wheelchair uses. After all we have the motobility scheme which Mums don't. The higher rate of motobility allowance is just short of £200 a month for me that pays for my car which allows me to get about. For those who don't drive, well that's a hell of a lot of taxi fares unless you live where I live which in real terms not many disabled people would chose to live.
    I think on the whole, buses aren't designed for wheelchair users but I think we're compensated for that fact.
    Julie has made a valid point about complaining about the behaviour of kids. Stamping on guide dogs tails is totally unacceptable and yes complain to the school. But you know disabled people also have a responibility to themselves. If you don't have to use public transport when they're ferrying kids about and you don't like, don't do it. I know many able bodies people who choose not get on the school bus because of the behaviour of the kids - that's just common sense.
    And bus drivers well there are so many health ande saftey rules now that prohibit them even from passing wind in their cabs never mind helping either a mother with kids or a disabled person in a wheelchair.
    I think the world has gone crazy in many ways because our natural instincts to help have been curtailed by either rules and regulations or the fear of being sued for causing offence or worse.
    There needs to be compromise on both sides. I'm disabled but my rights are no greater than those of able bodied people and when both the able bodied and the disabled realise that - then we'll have equality.
    I'd be interested to know what resolutions were passed at the meeting on Monday and hey it might be worth me coming along next time.

  5. Hi Julie

    Thanks for your comment, I quite understand what you mean and will strive to understand all sides of this issue better.

    Hi Sue,

    You would be more than welcome to attend the next disability forum. There is one to be held on the 22nd January but will only deal with the current budget so will not deal with any other issues on that day. There will be others later on in the year. The Disability Forum meets every 2 to 3 months.

    I look forward to seeing you both on Saturday.

    Best wishes