Out and About
12 December 2018
It’s not the big things it’s the daily little things that get you down. The big stuff you write letters about, you get the ombudsman involved, but the daily grind ...that’s what makes it hard. I have three invisible disabilities, I am hard of hearing, I have mobility issues due to joint problems and a lung condition.... I experience discrimination ranging from not being able to contact companies because I can’t use the telephone and don’t have a “text” phone to not being able to book an accessible room because I am not a wheelchair user and basic refusals to make any adjustments to accommodate my physical needs. The technology has been there for years now for people to use email and web chat but some companies refuse to introduce it. The worst of such events though is when hospitals, send out letters saying that if you need a sign language interpreter etc that you need to telephone them to arrange it. Seriously, a hospital! Do they not understand that people who need sign language assistance can’t use a phone! How hard would it be to let people email the department?! Hospitals are in my experience the most inaccessible places, and where I experience most discrimination, not just from the perspective of someone with hearing issues but from the perspective of mobility issues, miles of corridors with no porters available and not being able to book a porter in advance means arriving an hour early in the hope that a porter can be found. If I go to a shopping centre I can book a mobility scooter in advance it’s simple and yet I can't do it for an essential medical appointment. Arrive at a clinic and remind them you are deaf but the staff still don’t come and find you, they mumble your name in the corner and when you don’t know you have been called you are listed as having failed to attend because there aren’t any displays with names, I am forced to have an interpreter without which I survive quite well on a daily basis because staff can’t do simple thing such as looking at me when speaking, and hospitals don’t make simple adjustments to ensure accessibility such as screens, and mobility buggies. Add in house pharmacies which apparently is good for the hospital but bad for the patients who have to somehow get there and cope without the no names, no numbers, someone mumbling from behind a screen and you start to get a picture of a place that has made no effort to accommodate its patients needs... the law says that there is an anticipatory requirement and yet hospitals, full of experts on the conditions that make us have these needs can’t apparently anticipate or take action to ensure they are met.
I have repeatedly complained but it seems the complaints fall on deaf ears. Now I rely upon the help of friends and family to book lip speakers, push wheelchairs in hospitals that are too big to traverse from centralised parking to clinics at the other end of the building and run to the in-house pharmacy that’s off at a tangent between; the clinic and the parking. Laid out for the convenience of those who work there not those who are unfortunate enough to need them.
The greatest thing about banging your head against a brick wall is when you stop. Hospital appointments are stressful enough without having the additional worries about accessibility, knowing fair and reasonable complaints are brushed away as unimportant makes you wonder about the quality of care you are getting, I won’t call for an ambulance even when I have dislocated joints in case I have to deal with the staff unassisted, as I just don't trust them to treat me fairly, and listen to me.
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