Disability: not just a social care, benefits or health issue

More often than not, debates around disability and the role, for example, that disabled people’s organisations can play, tend to centre around “big” issues like social care, welfare/benefits and health.

This is obviously a very narrow view. Non-disabled people don’t think in such narrow terms; funny enough, neither do disabled people.

Indeed, it’s often in the things that non-disabled people take for granted that disabled people face the most barriers put in front of them.

An excellent campaign by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign yesterday showed that something as seemingly straightforward as going to the cinema is by no means easy if disability is involved.

Research (which was done, incidentally, by young people with muscular dystrophy) showed that disabled people can expect the following when they visit a cinema:

  • Poor disability awareness among staff members
  • Uncomfortable and poor viewing areas
  • Inaccessible auditoriums and refreshments areas
  • Broken lifts
  • Heavy doors
  • Poorly maintained toilets
  • Poor lighting
  • Stairways without banisters

A video from the campaign captures the nub of the issue:

As ever, it’s the things that non-disabled people wouldn’t even think of that often scupper the opportunities for disabled people to have the same opportunity to participate equally – in this case, going to the cinema.

And if the relatively small things in life – visiting the cinema with friends, going to the shops, nipping down the pub for a quick pint – are made so inaccessible, what hope do we have for the “big” issues?

If you’d like to know more about the research, visit the MD Trailblazers campaign site. If you’d like to see better access for disabled people in cinemas, you can sign the petition here.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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