Contact details

I am currently on the Exeter Colleague Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling course with a view to becoming a counsellor. I have also just finished a Level 1 British Sign Language course and hope to go on to Level 2 and 3, so I can offer this skill in my counselling work.

Simultaneously, I am a freelance writer who specialises in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

emma@emmabowler.co.uk

Monday, March 24, 2014

The power of the 'Can Do' Attitude...

I've come to the conclusion that it is essential for children to find something they CAN do and want to 'get into'.  When they find that thing it not only boosts their confidence and happiness while they are doing it but those positive effects permeate into other areas of their life too.

This is particularly important for a disabled child because so often they are comparing themselves [or are compared] to their peers and focusing on all the things they can't do.

So I was particularly pleased when my son Archie, who also has Kniest, recently won the 2013 ‘On the Move’ national competition for photographers with disabilities which is jointly organised by Mobility Choice, the charity responsible for delivering The Mobility Roadshow, and the Disabled Photographers’ Society (DPS).

He was so chuffed and last week even made it into the local paper so that won him some additional kudos at school too:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

East Midlands Trains - Winner of my 2014 'Can't Do' Attitude Award [will anyone beat this?]

Well all I wanted to do was book a train from where I live to Loughborough to attend a training course for a job I've just got.  Just how hard can that be?

A Non Disabled Person's Experience of booking a train ticket:

A non disabled person would go to a train website, put in the details of where/when they want to travel, pick the appropriate tickets and pay for them. 

Bingo!  Job done. 

Time taken:  less than 5 mins.

A Disabled Person's Experience of booking a train ticket:

A disabled person would go to a train website, put in the details of where/when they want to travel, pick out the appropriate tickets they'd like to book...

Armed with this information they would then have to ring to book the tickets and assistance on a special assistance line.

They would have to go through all the relevant details, bit by bit.  [In my case I'd have to argue for a while about needing to take a mobility scooter on the train - something I've done numerous times without an issue at the station].  Once they'd gone through this then they would book the tickets.  Then they would have to go back over all the details again to book the assistance, bit by bit.

Time taken:  about 30 mins.


But the problem with the journey I wanted to do was that it involved a leg with East Midlands Trains.  The man at South West Trains who I use to book my tickets and assistance with insisted I called East Midlands Trains before booking...

So I call East Midlands Trains, I'm immediately told they have a very stringent scooter policy, health and safety and all that. 

However, I explain that I have a very small scooter confident they can't possibly have an issue with it.  As soon as the scooter name comes out of my mouth the man at the end of the phone says 'No, can't take that one.'  He goes on to explain that he personally has seen one tip over on the ramp.  I say OK I can walk it up the ramp.  No not possible apparently too dangerous.

He suggests I get a wheelchair - but I don't have a wheelchair, I don't want a wheelchair, I already have a scooter which I feel very comfortable and confident on.  I would not feel either in a wheelchair.

He then suggests that I could pack the scooter into a carry case [my scooter doesn't have a carry case] and carry it on to the train. 

The scooter is 30kg.  I'm 4ft tall, about 42kg in weight, all my joints are stiff and deformed, I find steps difficult, I find train steps impossible.  As you can imagine carrying a scooter onto the train would be very difficult for me - and what about my health and safety?  East Midlands rules clearly doesn't apply to me?  Cheers.

I'm told the trains weren't built for taking scooters and that the man's own partner has a disability and can't travel on her scooter on the trains as if though that will make me feel better - it doesn't, it makes me feel angry - so she's not allowed on the trains either - there's another name for this Discrimination [under the guise of Health and Safety].

So Thank You East Midlands Trains for pulling out all the stops so I CAN'T travel on your trains, you've been SO helpful.

I'm going to drive.


Monday, December 23, 2013

2014 - the year supermarkets clamp down on disabled parking abuse?

A few months ago a 64 year old man, Brian Holmes, was killed following a row over a disabled parking space at an Asda store in Bedfordshire.  Alan Watts, 65, was found guilty of manslaughter and has recently been jailed for 5 years.

The abuse of Disabled parking spaces is something that used to really get on my nerves but to a large extent now I have moved out of London it has become less of an issue for me in terms of the abuse I witness on a day to day level. 

Then one very wet Sunday morning in the run up to Christmas I went to a large Tesco near me...  Even though I arrived early most of the disabled spaces are taken and few have blue badges.  When I point this out to the lady on Customer Services she comes up with the excellent excuse 'there is nothing we can do'.

Well it's good to know that Tesco values its disabled customers, er not.  Of course this is the same supermarket chain that didn't seem to give a stuff that they were installing inaccessible self 'pay at pump' machines...  I voted with my feet after experiencing that and have never bought petrol from them since. 

So until Tesco have more of a 'can do' rather than a 'can't be bothered' attitude towards making its stores accessible I'll be making sure I go elsewhere. 

But it will be interesting to see whether the Bedfordshire case opens up the supermarket chains eyes to the depth of emotion that people feel around abuse of disabled parking and how much the issue riles people. 

Will 2014 be the year they finally start fining people for parking in disabled spaces? 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is all publicity good publicity for disabled people?

Article about a man with MS who can usually only walk 10m, who walked 60km in a week to raise money for the MS Society:

http://enablemagazine.co.uk/index.php/2013/10/ms-man-who-can-only-walk-10-metres-with-stick-walks-60k-in-a-week/

I couldn't help wondering if he got the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance [now called PIP] whether doing, and publicising, something like this could cause him to lose it?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

ITV's 'My Dwarf Family' [their programme title not my ideal wording...]

I can't stand the word Dwarf.  Whilst some short people have reclaimed it using the word just doesn't work for me because it still has too many negative and derogative connotations.

So it was with trepidation that I watched ITV's 'My Dwarf Family' [was on Thursday 15th August, 2013] - a programme which followed 3 families each of which had one or more members who had achondroplasia, the most common form of short stature.

Although the condition is somewhat different to Kniest Syndrome the issue of short stature does throw up similiar issues whatever the label you give it and it is always interesting to see how other people fare.

I really felt for the young couple [the woman had achondroplasia and the man didn't] grappling with the issue of when to have children [she wanted them now, he didn't].  They both seemed to feel, as we did, that they would want a child whether or not it would be short statured.

Having been there and done that, and having ended up with one child who is short statured and one who isn't, I think I can honestly say that the such a seemingly simple decision can turn out to be hugely more complicated when it becomes a reality...

I also really felt for the parents of the young children who were short statured - the whole 'letting go' of your child, getting them to 'act' their age, letting them be independent just seems so much harder when they are so much smaller than their peers.

Indeed the programme opens with a boy, the height of a 4 year old, cycling by a very busy main road - it looked hideously like a bad idea, but this boy was 11.  Most likely his peers would be allowed to do this so why not him?

Whether the decision was easy or hard for his parents I don't know but there is no doubt that if you are a short statured parent [or wannabe parent] you'll face some very tough decisions along the way, it isn't a process for the fainthearted and perhaps that's why we're such a feisty, resilient lot!

If you want to see the programme it's up for a couple of weeks:

https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/my-dwarf-family/series-1/episode-1-my-dwarf-family