As a disabled person in the UK, do we ask too much of accessibility? Whether it is digital accessibility or physical accessibility?
I am pondering this question and I do have an answer, but want to share with you my thought process.
How I Lost My Sight
The reason I lost my sight was because of the effects of me being a diabetic. As a diabetic, I have to monitor my blood sugars. It was not until the late noughties, that I was aware of a talking blood sugar machine. However, this was still difficult, as I had to try to put the end of a little strip of plastic on the little drop of blood from my finger, before the announcement of the blood result. Here is where my dilemma starts.
I am moaning that it took at least five attempts and more than one plastic strip to record my result. However, the machine can tell me the result and not rely on a third party, in turn being able to live independently. The issue of the title of the blog gets better.
Over the last ten years, the ability for diabetics to monitor their sugars is a lot easier and more accessible.
The method I use now is a small patch on my arm. This has a very small plastic needle that is inserted into my skin, which records the blood sugar levels. All I have to do (after upgrading my mobile phone) is open the app, activate the start button and put the phone up to the patch. Then the phone/app reads what my blood sugar is, although a little behind the real sugar, but very good.
There are Still Inaccessible Parts to My Life
You would have thought I would be over the moon, but not quite, the problem I have now, is a sighted person can see an arrow alongside the result telling them whether it is steady, going up or down directly, or gradually. The information guides the person on what to do with their insulin medication or sugar. Alas, the arrow is not accessible for a person who is visually impaired and uses screen reader software.
So I am still not satisfied; from not being able to do my blood sugar, to being independent, to thinking if they just made the arrow indicator accessible and announce the direction, then it will be brilliant. Then, I have other ideas concerning the product, but that will take too long for this blog.
Why Do I Feel Spoilt?
I was now asking myself: why do I feel spoilt? I was watching a documentary a few weeks ago, where Ade Adepitan was touring around Africa, unfortunately, I only watched the last episode.
Ade Adepitan is a wheelchair user and met up with a fellow wheelchair user from Africa. Here are some of the things I remember he went through:
- People would cross the road when he was coming.
- People would not touch him, even when giving change, or money for things, as they think they could catch something.
- He wanted to catch a bus. They filmed several busses that stopped but did not let him on. A bus stopped and let a mother and a pushchair off the bus and then quickly shut the doors and drove off. The reason I mentioned this, is that there must be room on the bus for him.
So going back to my question: yes we are spoilt here in the UK, but knowledge on how everyone can live an independent life and have all the opportunities that everyone else has. With the physical adaptions, or digital technologies should be the goal and I think here in the UK we are not perfect, but with the equality act and go digital for all Government web sites to be Accessible by 2020, the UK is getting there and We are making good inroads.
Perhaps there are opportunities to assist in education around the world to see that everyone deserves the right to an equal life with; not just understanding, but the development of assistive equipment.
There is a lot more to the film with discrimination against people with a disability.
Have an honest think and what are your thoughts when you see someone with a disability, is it their hairstyle, the clothes that they are wearing, or what are they doing? Or is it the disability? Then ask yourself “what can that person do” rather than “what can’t that person do”, with any adaptions available to them.