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As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise 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:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Disregard of disability access eg1 Tesco's petrol station

I went to a petrol station today [Tesco's by the way] which has installed pay at pump facilities. This would be all well and good if they were at a height I could reach.

To add insult to injury there's no way of avoiding having to access the panel because you have to press a button on it to declare whether you want to pay at pump or at the kiosk.

To acheive this I have to precariously balance on a ledge, pulling myself up on the bottom of the pump to reach my choice. Physically I can do it, just, but it's also the sort of manouvre that could easily go wrong and cause me an injury.

Tank filled I went to pay. I was then greeted by an enormous step into the shop. Great.

I asked why on earth they didn't have a ramp and was told that the council were aware of the issue and are doing something about it - er just how long ago did the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] kick in? 1995, yes that's a wopping 14 years ago.

I then stated that the pay at pump facility isn't accessible either - "ah yes, we've got round that one by having service call". I believe this is some system where disabled muggins has to sit in their car and wait for help, presumably not possible in the dead of night [yes disabled people do go out at night] when there's only one person locked into the petrol station kiosk.

I'm sorry this isn't an acceptable solution for me - I don't want to have to rely on someone else to do a task I can do myself anyway. The solution is not to install the pay at pump facilities at an inaccessible height, hardly rocket science and it wouldn't cost the garage any more either.


mand said...

Woo, i agree. It always shocks me that companies, certainly when they're huge chains with huge legal departments, still don't think of these things before building. Shocks, but :0( doesn't surprise.

I don't have your disability and i'm only in the last few years learning about 'accessible' from the difficult side of the fence, so thank you for this glimpse of daily difficulties - last time i got petrol (about 4 years ago) my only problem with those pay-at-pump thingummies was the pain of bending to see what i was doing. Even for me at 5'6" they are awkwardly placed. And a high step would have been painful to negotiate, too. I confess, in those days i often didn't wonder how anyone else would cope. When i did think like that, it was usually about wheelchairs.

If i was in your situation i wouldn't do that dangerous (especially in a petrol station) balancing act. I'd march up to the kiosk and demand that one of the staff walk across and press the pay-at-kiosk button. Still not accessible for you to use independently, or possible at night - but it would make the point SO strongly, and spare you the difficulty. (Though it wouldn't surprise me if they're not allowed to for H&S reasons...!)

Doesn't this kind of thing make you feel like getting injured just so you can go to the media with it?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this would actually help you, since you are located in the U.K. (I'm in the states, but my husband is originally from England) but I thought I would share something that I've come to use at times like these. (btw...I am also of short stature (3'6") and use a scooter for mobility).
If you happen to have a GPS and a cellphone, maybe you can find whatever location of petrol station you are at on your GPS, and get their phone number and dial them on your cell phone and thus altering them to your needs? I've done this a few times myself, when I don't go to my normal place to get petrol and it's worked.
I also get angry myself at the total lack and disregard for physically challenged people, especially little people/dwarfs, at placing likes petrol stations, grocery stores or what have you.

EmmaB said...

I've e mailed Tesco's so we'll see what they have to say for themselves...

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