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Super crips / 8 August 2008

Many people credit me with the access cartoon showing a Dalek stuck at the bottom of a flight of steps when setting out to conquer the world. I’m not sure who came up with this gem; it might have been the late Steve Cribb, I only know that it struck a cord for people when looking at physical access issues. steps cartoon

Nowadays Daleks appear to have developed the ability to levitate up and down any steps that they come across in their mission to exterminate mankind. Useful skill if you’re an electric wheelchair user. Not dissimilar to those young paraplegics (their term) who, with developed upper limb strength, can often skip up and down steps in their self propelled wheelchairs.

Unfortunately, some of these super crips have set themselves up as access specialists, and, I suspect, because they present the more acceptable face of disability to the non-disabled world, are being used by groups and organisations wanting to check out the accessibility of their venues.

‘I’ve had a wheelchair user show me that a few small steps aren’t a problem for the disabled’ was one comment a Disabled friend of mine received when attempting to access a venue in her home town recently.

Needless to say, she was an electric wheelchair user, and could no more skip up and down steps as fly! The visually impaired friend who was with her also discovered that their super crip expert had also failed to address most of the non-physical access issues at the venue.

Namely, there was no large print or Braille information available, the lighting levels were crap and way-finding signage was non-existent! I often point out to non-disabled people that less than 4% of Disabled people are wheelchair users. They might make the most noise when addressing access issues, but behind them are the silent majority who’s access needs are just as valid, if not more so!