Ability Access is the largest most read dedicated Facebook page in the UK and so we get a lot of comments, views and opinions, which is great as it raises awareness of all disability.
In one video recently reposted we were raising awareness of the lack of access in a Travelodge. In the commentary I explain that I am unable to stand or transfer into the bath. Normally I would not reply to one post or comment however one individual (who I will not name and shame) has gone through my personal Facebook photos for the last 6 years and came up with his own opinions on how disabled I am. It should be noted that the person who has done this is disabled themselves. Opinions which are completely false and unwarranted. It should be noted that I have never spoken to this person and have never met them, however following this intrusion of privacy I sent them this message below. So that I can answer the allegations against me as it is clear that I am not disabled enough for this person.
They say a picture tell a thousand words and this is so true…
Let’s talk through the photos…
First of all, the picture of me on a Segway with my wife in Scotland, this was pre injury before 2014. Before my injury I was fully able.
From the many holiday pics below, you will see that I am either standing and holding on to something or someone or leaning against something or sitting. The reason for this is I did not want all our holiday pictures to be of me in a scooter or wheelchair as that’s not who I am. My wheelchair or scooter is not part of me it is just an aid. These, pictures were taken in 2017 as it clearly states on my t-shirt and just for a bit of variety, I have added a few pictures of me in a mobility scooter or holding on to a mobility scooter for a picture as back then I was able to stand for about a minute. Just out of all these shots is a family member or staff member with my scooter or wheelchair ready to catch me if I should fall.
Last year my spinal damage deteriorated as it was expected to over time. I lost all usage of my right foot, most of my left foot and have difficulty moving my legs forward. I am still able to transfer but cannot stand without assistance. So, commenting that during my Premier Inn video I could step through the door was incorrect as I would have fallen over as I have no balance to stand.
What these comments have shown is that people, including people with disabilities, form opinions, when they only see a snapshot of what is going on in a person life.
This is why Ability Access exists to make people aware of the issues out there. Now as the founder of Ability Access, I could easily be upset and ban the user who made these incorrect and ill-informed comments, but of course I won’t do that as Ability Access is about raising awareness and educating people on disability even if that person also has a severe disability themselves.
If this person replies to my message, I will happily have a conversation with them and even offer to show my medical record from the Spinal Unit in Sheffield, (not that I should have to do this). The only way disability awareness can overcome issues like this is openness, explanation and honesty and not incorrect accusations.
Although, I am now going to change my setting on my personal Facebook page.