Why the British Transport system is essentially ableist and humiliating
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Being a disabled traveller in 2018 Britain is to live in a country that is not made for you, and to use infrastructure built to exclude you. Being disabled means fighting for accessibility on a daily basis. Thankfully, an alarm has finally been raised on how dismal our transport systems are for disabled people through the news. Multiple stories of shoddy services, staff doubting people’s disabilities and even resorting to conflict have been reported recently. It is wrong and unjust. Why does being a disabled traveller today mean that I, my mother or so many others must feel humiliated? Within the last month, several major cases of disabled mistreatment on transport occurred. Firstly, Jet2 demanded a ten-year-old boy prove he was disabled. Meanwhile Sara Harvey, while travelling on Northern Rail to a wedding in Bolton, was told by guards that she wasn’t allowed to her mobility scooter onboard, despite her need due to Ehler Danlos Syndrome. In a video recorded by her and her husband she speaks distraughtly in front of staff about them wanting to “chuck us off”. Talking to The Echo she later described how she was treated like a "criminal” because she could only afford a scooter. Northern Rail have apologised for the “unacceptable experience”, but the repeated nature of such events seem to suggest it is an acceptable experience to them. Furthermore, Canadian comedian Tanyalee Davis described being “harassed and humiliated” for using disabled spaces. Within the space of five days, she twice encountered the inaccessibility and ableism which plagues our train system. The first came on 17th July during a Great Western Railway journey from Plymouth to London when “a woman got on with a pram” The guard told her to get rid of her scooter, despite the pram-user having no right to the space, stopping the train and even threatening to call the police. Mortified, Davis says she “cried for most of the journey home”. While GWR declared the company were “collectively horrified” by the video of the incident, five days later she experienced another mishap. This time although a guard was helpful, the communication between stations failed meaning no-one helped her off at York and she was suddenly “off to Darlington”, nearly missing a performance she had that night.
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