How much of my life would you tolerate, in your life?
I have Polio Scoliosis (curvature of the spine), Scleroderma (a chronic systemic autoimmune disease) and Raynaud’s disease.I am a fulltime wheelchair user, These are a combination of symptoms that add to ongoing daily health issues all of which I have survived.
My disabilities are the barriers which preclude and prohibit my inclusion and equality as an Irish Citizen. Lack of earning power in employment, restricted access to public transport, lack of equal access to all goods and services they are the disabling factors I face every day. I have learned to manage my health issues what I have not learned to manage is the disabling restrictions placed before me by an unequal society underpinned by an uncaring government.
I have learned to live with my disabilities but this government have turned learning to manage into an endurance test. They have changed coping with disability into a daily battle to survive. They took away my medical card when I was working because they deemed me to be earning over the income threshold. Does that seem fair to you?
Earning a few Euros above the income threshold does not act as a cure for any of my conditions. When I earned just under the threshold I was not able to walk and when I earned above the threshold I was still not able to walk. Earning a living is not now, nor has it ever been, a cure for any disability.
As a wheelchair user I cannot just accept an invitation from a friend or family member to get the Dart into Dublin for a surprise night out, I cannot just decide to get a Train on the spur of the moment like my non disabled friends, or family because I am requested by the Dart and Train Service to give them 24 hour notice of travel. Does that seem fair to you?
The reason given by the Public Transport Provider is so they can arrange to have someone available to use the ramp to assist me on and off the train. On the face of it that sounds reasonable but on closer inspection, it is a policy introduced by the Company, to allow them to plan for reduced staffing. It is also allowing the Dart and Train Company to introduce more and more unstaffed and automated stations. When every station had staff in the 90’s I could just turn up ask for assistance and get on any train. However now that unstaffed stations are springing up I can no longer just turn up like my non disabled friends. Not every person with a disability has free travel so those of us who have to pay our fare also have to pay for the phone call. Not only are we treated differently we actually pay more to travel the same journey because we have to pay the fare and pay for the phone call.
Does that seem fair to you?