Sunday, 1 September 2013

As if we don't face enough problems...

What is it about being in some `position of power' that makes people feel they should create rules which do not exist, when they are confronted with people with disabilities (PWD) : Here are a few samples:

  • My pet examples stem from my interactions from airline staff when faced with my desire to check my motorised (battery-operated) wheelchair:
  1. Sorry sir, but you have to pay Rs, 4500 (or some such outrageous figure) for `excess baggage'; (the problem gets resolved only when I raise my voice in argument and a senior person from the airline, who knows that the rules guarantee free carriage of assistive devices intervenes and lets me proceed).
  2. We have to disassemble the battery (even if it has dry cells); so can you please open it and show us. (Needless to say, it takes several minutes of discussion before the message can be got across that one cannot `open' this battery and then reuse it! This invariably results in my getting hotter and hotter under the collar: which is not quite what my doctor would recommend for what my physical condition needs.)
  • This example is what triggered this post. There is this amazing woman (*) who, after some moronic doctor once (many years ago) gave her only a year to live, learnt somewhere that hydrotherapy would do wonders for her. As a result, she started swimming and even rose to the level of a former paralympic swimming champion. Recently, since her usual swimming pool was unavailable for some reason, her father went to enquire about a pool close to her home – and he was at first informed by the person working there that the pool could not be used by disabled people. This woman kept going for many days to reason with the junior employee, finally managing to get the phone number of one of the bosses. When this boss was finally contacted after 3 or 4 futile attempts, the boss asked her to try again as the junior had been appropriately advised. The junior employee this time asked an intermediary boss who advised rejection of the request. Finally it took a threat to approach senior Government Officials to get the powers that be to relent and say `come back tomorrow with a Doctor's certificate as well as the Championship certificate!' Surely all these ad hoc `rules' cannot be written anywhere, and are just hurdles conjured by a person unable or not desiring to take a decision in a `different' situation!
(*) You should see her blog

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