Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Disability Equality Duty - does it work? (Part 2)

Well done – London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
As you may recall from reading my previous blogs I am a Fulham football club fan (we are possibly the best team in the world) and usually after a football game, my friends and I would go out for a meal.
In the past, there have not been many accessible places to eat around the Fulham area. Although its quite a walk, we went to the new development at Chelsea village, I went there about a year ago and came across the usual barriers which prolong my journey quite significantly such as, “dropped kerbs”. By this, I mean, dropped kerbs that are no help to anyone, they should be flush with the road surface and not have a small step as large numbers of there dropped do.
Last week, I went along the same route which goes along Fulham road towards the New Kings road, practically the whole route had been re-paved incorporating proper dropped kerbs. which was a big surprise to me and in comparison to the last blog entry about the disability equality duty - this is a good example of when it does work.

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Disability Equality Duty - Does It Work? (Part 1)

The Disability Equality Duty is part of the DDA which came into force just over two years ago. This is concerned with promoting the rights of disabled people within society and ensuring that the needs of disabled people are met within the functions provided by public authorities.

One such public authority is the police.

I am a regular football supporter (Fulham Football Club - possibly the best in the world) and use a local bus-stop which is near to the tube. As you can imagine, after any home match, the whole world and his father head towards this area and as such, the police are present to undertake crowd control. In the past, the buses pull up far away from the kerb so their ramp cannot be deployed correctly. Therefore, often I have asked the police to have a word with the driver before the bus moved to ensure that he positions the bus near to the kerb. On previous occasions this has worked and in my mind this is how the Disability Equality Duty should work firsthand. However, three weeks ago I asked a police officer the same thing and my request was refused! The police comment was "that they were on crowd control duties and so were unable to assist with anything else".

I believe I am a member of that crowd and I should have an equal right to be controlled and logic would tell me getting me onto the bus and away from the area falls under the remit of crowd control and I believe that this is what the Disability Equality Duty should be.

I would welcome anyone’s comments on this issue as in the above scenario it does seem that this is a grey area.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Disabled People Do Work

For the past two weeks, at my office, I took on a work experience student from a local secondary school. I was given two briefs; (i) to show to him all the workings of an office environment; and (ii) to show him that disabled people do work and the opportunities available.

The first of these briefs was excellent for all of the staff in the office as it helped us all to understand in more detail what each other's role is. The second one is someting more monumental to me and my specific business namely the empowerment of disabled people. I strongly believe that when you are given the opportunity to learn and develop skills, you can start to go places and meet your true potential.

This whole exercise was a success for all involved especially our student!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Shortlisted for RADAR Award

I have been shortlisted for a Radar People of the Year Award. I set up my business in 2001 with a view to increasing the inclusion of disabled people in mainstream society through consultancy and training. As Director and Senior Disability Equality Consultant, I have worked tirelessly to this end over the last seven years, and have now seen my efforts recognized by the organization Radar, which has shortlisted me for the prestigious Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The winner of this Award will be announced at an awards ceremony on the night of Monday, December 1st at the Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London.

As you can imagine I am feeling extremely pleased with myself and, of course, have all fingers and toes crossed!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Hotel Reply

The on-going saga of the Radisson Hotel continues........

I have received a response from the Radisson, Birmingham over the weekend. They have duly acknowledged their mistakes and shortcomings and have offered various gestures to apologise for this situation. However, I am concerned as to their understanding of the DDA as they comment that "The Radisson SAS Hotel Birmingham takes the Disability Discrimination Act extremely
seriously and the hotel fully complies with the Act" - The DDA is not compliant based legislation but is an evolving piece of legislation whereby the boundaries may change on a daily basis.

Even though the gestures and the apology were made, the response did state that they accept no liability but surely the admission itself implies this?

Monday, 6 October 2008

hotel refusal continued

I was incredibly disgusted with the hotel’s mistake on Saturday 4th October 2008.

I had previously booked a twin accessible room and a twin connecting room staying at the Radisson, Birmingham. On Saturday, my Personal Assistant arrived at the hotel at approximately 12.00 noon to leave our bags there and I was horrified that there was no mention of the Hotel’s mistake then.

We went out for the day and returned at approximately 9.00pm in order to check-in. We were told that the Hotel had been double-booked and as it was the Radisson’s mistake. they had arranged for us to stay in similar rooms with similar facilities and same star category at the City Inn, Birmingham. We were told that a taxi had been ordered on account and would arrive to take us to the City Inn.

The taxi did arrive and we were taken to the City Inn, at which point, the driver insisted on payment and would not accept that this had been paid on account. This issue was resolved when I checked out as the taxi fare was deducted from my hotel bill.

The rooms were not twin bedded nor connecting which I found particularly disturbing as I had to share a bed with my Personal Assistant (and his snoring).

Secondly, this contravenes the DDA, which I did point out to the Radisson in my original booking – therefore, surely under the DDA the second room should have been free of charge. This matter has made me incredibly angry indeed and this is the reason why the DDA exists in order to preserve the rights of the disabled person as people like the Radisson take advantage.

I was equally disturbed by the fact that the Radisson reception staff looked me directly in the face and misled me about the taxi and about the same standard of room. I am not only seeking compensation but I am also seriously considering taking legal action against the Radisson.

In any case, I will not be staying at a Radisson ever again, but should this be mistaken as a complaint from one individual please be aware that all family, friends and colleagues will learn about this treatment and I am sure that they will also decide not to use the Radisson in the future.

Therefore, i asked them to consider the issues raised above and get back to me their comments.

I am stIll waiting........

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

When I thought my day couldn't get any worse

After I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, a bunch of rude and obnoxious people stormed onto the train and pushed past me even though the train was terminating there and the rule is, to let people off before you get on the train.

No boarding for wheelchair users

On the return I was going to use the DLR at Tower Gateway; however I was informed that this had shut so it was suggested that I use Tower Hill tube - useless really as this is inaccessible to wheelchair users. So I proceeded to walk back arriving back at 14.05pm - miserable and very wet. I walked through the ticket gate and staff shouted out to the platform staff that a ramp was needed. I proceeded to the platform where the staff were still letting people onto the train and I politely asked him for a ramp for me to board. Totally ignoring me, he blew his whistle for the doors to shut and the train to go. Rather perplexed I asked "Why did you let the train go? you let everyone else on". And his answer was, "because you use a wheelchair and it would take a lot more time".

Do black cabs get lost?

At about 10.40 we caught a taxi to the Tower of London and told the driver to enter via St Katherine’s Way, through the East Gate of the Tower. Did the driver do this? No, don’t be silly. He dropped us off outside an office block which was at the other end of St Katherine Way and we were therefore unable to locate the tower. After speaking to many of passers-by, we finally got directions and started walking. By the time I arrived into the conference it was 11.30 and it was due to end around noon. I decided, after this ordeal, that I would go and look at the Crown Jewels while I was there and I have to say that the Queen has some serious bling!

Broken down train

This morning, I was on my way to a conference which was being held at the Tower of London. This was due to start at 9.30am, so I caught the 8.05am train from Sutton, which would get me into London Bridge at 8.42am. The train broke down just after Norwood Junction. After about half an hour the driver announces that he is trying to fix the control, so we must be patient. After another hour he comes back on the announcement and tells us he can't fix it so he is waiting for a repair team. Yet another hour later, and one of the repair team tells us the train is now fixed and it would be fast to London bridge. In this situation I was thinking about what other barriers to access does this cause and I came up with two clear things: firstly, the lack of announcements or re-assurance that something is actually being done to the train and regular progress reports thereafter; and secondly, the ramp at London Bridge was not ready as the staff are unable to deal with delays or disruptions!