Despite the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, some areas of the country still seem stuck in the past. I live in one of them, writes Tracey Auckland
“The Fenland area of Cambridgeshire is very rural. Access there is a big issue. Wheelchair users are limited to which services they can use because of lack of ramps. I witnessed a wheelchair user who couldn’t gain access to her bank because there were no ramps. I think it’s outrageous that people with disabilities cannot access services they daily need.
Transport is another example. My town, Wisbech, has no train station and, to my knowledge, only one accessible taxi for the whole of the Fenland area. There are no accessible buses to go further afield, so people can’t get out working, socialising, meeting new friends, or having a good time.
People with profound needs are even more disadvantaged in the area because there is not even a loo which is accessible to them.
I am an MP for the Cambridgeshire Parliament, a Speaking Up project where people with learning disabilities are elected to campaign for issues that people feel strongly about, getting our message across to professionals to make change happen for the better.
We started a campaign to try to get accessible toilets throughout the county. To get our message across to the councillors we invited them to one of our parliament meetings. One of our MPs, who has complex physical needs, gave a presentation to make the guests understand how difficult it was for her to go out and feel comfortable. She showed them what a difference having the right facilities would make.
Locally the MPs have put pressure on the councils. As a result planning meetings are now under way and we hope to see better facilities in the future.
We didn’t want to leave it there – some of the MPs took the issue to the Houses of Parliament. We spoke to three of our local Westminster MPs about the issue. They said that they will be asking the government to do something to make sure that we get these facilities right across the country.
This is an example of the change that the MPs are making – showing that people with learning disabilities really can have a voice.”