Not a wheelchair user but I’m still disabled!

Published Date
28/01/2009
Author
Nila Patel in a jumper

Hi everyone,

The launch of the transport survey has got me thinking about commuting as a non-wheelchair-using disabled person. Travelling on the tube in London during peak time (or in fact any time of the day) I don’t often get a seat.

Luckily I’m okay standing for short periods of time but if it’s a long journey or if I’m feeling particularly tender, I do struggle and there’s not much I can do about it.

If I was an elderly person, pregnant, or used a walking stick or crutch, physically I would appear to need a seat and would therefore my fellow communters would hopefully offer me one.

But my question to you now is WHAT IF I DON’T LOOK LIKE ANY OF THE ABOVE AND STILL NEED A SEAT?

I have often considered asking someone if I can take their seat but I imagine their automatic reaction  would be be to look me up and down and ask “Well why do you need a seat?”

And so they have a valid point – I don’t appear to be pregnant, elderly or disabled.

But I am disabled, damn it!!

So what is the most logical thing to do in these situations?

Do I tell the person I have a disability? What if the person proceeds to ask me what kind of disability because, let’s be honest, if someone claiming to be disabled doesn’t look it then wouldn’t you want to know what their disability is?

Or even worse, what if they don’t believe me?? How can I prove I have a physical disability? And why should I prove I have a disability??

I’ve often wondered as it’s quite a grey area and many times I’ve struggled whilst standing on the tube or bus and by the end of it, I’m in a lot of pain, so much so that it can ruin my whole day (and now for the violins….)

A few years ago Transport for London bought out a badge scheme for pregnant which said “Baby on Board” What would be the alternative for me? “I am disabled” Ha ha!

So the previous Mayor for London (Good ol’ Livingstone) launched a new set of signs that encouraged people to give up their seat for pregnant women, as well as people with disabilities or less able to stand. Source: Transport for London

This is all very positive and encouraging but what does this bit about people with disabilities or less able to stand mean?? I have a disability and I’m very much less able to stand. How am I supposed to prove I fit in both of these categories??

All comments welcome…

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