Living Streets campaigns for more accessible streets for all. We want to develop a thorough understanding of what impacts and influences everyone to navigate the public realm. This includes challenging our own assumptions, biases, and approaches, and working in partnership to influence wider societal change. We hear from Ozzie Joester-Nelson about their experience using a wheelchair.
I’m Ozzie, I’m 17, currently a student, and I have recently started using a wheelchair. For Disability Pride Month, I want to write about why my wheelchair is a good thing, and about how it helps me to exist in public in a way I can’t without it.
To me, disability pride is being unashamed of existing in the world as a disabled person and using the aids that I need to access the world without feeling the need to apologise for daring to be disabled.
Since starting to use a wheelchair, I have been able to access the world so much more easily than before, it allows me to get out of the house and not completely exhaust all my energy, I can see my friends and go to places that have been unreachable to me for a long time. When I’m out in my wheelchair I feel safer, the chances of me having an energy crash while out and not being able to get home easily are much lower. The reassurance of knowing that going out won’t leave me completely exhausted for days means I’m more likely to go out in the first place.
Disability pride is a movement to counteract the ableism and discrimination that disabled people face in everyday life... We deserve to be everywhere we want to be, and we need the streets to be fit for us.
Of course, there are downsides. It’s much more difficult to navigate the world in a wheelchair- you have to be much more aware of where you can cross roads, what stretches of pavement are impossible to wheel across. Many paths are impossible to access, many public buildings are still inaccessible to wheelchair users, and using public transport requires more planning and more time set aside for travel.
But I can be out in public, and people can see me, and that’s good for everyone. It is good for non-disabled people to see the full diversity of their community, and I get to live my life.
July is disability pride month. Disability pride month was first celebrated in 1990 in the USA to mark the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of legislation in American disability rights, and has since spread across the globe, gaining widespread recognition in the disability community. Disability pride is a movement to counteract the ableism and discrimination that disabled people face in everyday life, and to celebrate the history of the disability rights movement and the achievements of disabled people. We deserve to be everywhere we want to be, and we need the streets to be fit for us.
Martin P McAdam/ The Edinburgh Reporter
Living Streets wants neighbourhoods, towns and cities to prioritise accessibility as part of inclusive design. We will campaign with our partners for greater access for all.
If you want accessible streets in your area then join a Local Group or start one with our support.