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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Disabled travel: Make your own way?
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Swansea Cork Ferry company has admitted that facilities on its ships are not good enough to carry some disabled passengers.

It has told customers with severe disabilities that they will have to find other ways of travelling to Ireland.

Gill Worrall, who has multiple sclerosis, found the disabled cabin she had booked was not acceptable.

She complained that the company was not operating in the 21st century and ignoring the needs of a key group of customers.

Watchdog Disability Wales branded the situation a "disgrace".

What do you think? Should travel operators be compelled to provide adequate facilities for disabled people?

If you have a disability, tell us about your own experiences of using public and private transport? Are things getting any better? Should more money be spent on decent facilities?

Click here to read the full story on the Swansea Cork Ferry decision.

This talking point is now closed

I think that a legislative requirement for improved accessibility should be balanced by government support through tax-breaks, in order to enable retailers and service providers to make the necessary changes without undue financial hardship. It's easy living in a country like Australia, which has a relatively modern infrastructure and a headstart in legislating for disability issues, to forget that significant problems can be encountered in countries like the UK where the equivalent infrastructure may be decades or even hundreds of years old. Government needs to provide support, perhaps from Lottery funds, to enable the transition.
Nigel Burton, Australia

Firstly, I and many others object to being called, 'disabled people'. We are people first 'less abled' seconded. The words people place in their minds are an important means to over-come attitudes towards us. Travelling anywhere is difficult for most of us. To be confronted with thoughtless people adds to the frustration of struggling to gain access to transport, buildings parks, etc. Peronally, I don't expect people to fall over themselves to help us but a little respect and understanding goes a long way to help our lives. If we can be thought of as people first we will most likely be given better opportunities in society. For example, a small town was built for peopl in wheel chairs. As there was no need to have doors or ceilings the standard height we were well anble to use these buildings. It was the so-called 'people who are better abled that became 'disabled'. A disability is only that which makes life difficult for one to live. In a multi-racial, multi-cultural societ!y ! surely there is room for us too! Think on it planners and give us all a chance to enjoy the facilities offered in thes country...please!
Ray L, Britain

Far too many of see a 'disability' as a disabled person's problem. The sooner we all realise that it is society that DIS-ables a person with a physical impairment the better. It's very simple to make shops, transport etc accessable, all we need to do is change our arrogant attitude of 'Oh well, never mind, I'm OK. This is your problem. You deal with it!' We should all look at America as a shining example.
Louise, Wales

I have a friend who is occasionally wheelchair bound due to the effects of serious illness which she is unlikely to recover from. Despite that she is game to try anything. On visiting a tourist railway in France she was invited to try out the disabled facilities. She came back with a pageful of complaints. Whilst the disabled toilet was big enough it lacked support bars. The washbasin had the wrong type of tap which meant the user had to apply pressure hard in order to be splashed all over. And as for getting on the train - the seating level was four feet above platform level. At this point she got out her wheelchair and had to be lifted into the carriage, where, to give the railway concerned its due, the ride was very comfortable. As a result of this, her husband is designing a disabled coach based on one of the many low slung chasses seen around the yard. Whilst I cite a French example, there are still too many cases of so called disabled facilities still inaccessible in the UK.
Hazel, UK

Everybody has sympathy with genuinely disabled people, and their special requirements. I know a guy with MS. Unfortunately, though, all companies have to operate within their cashflow availability. Much as many of them would like to do everything under the sun for everybody, it simply isn't viable. Hard though it might appear, there are other equally important issues which the disabled sometimes rather selfishly choose to ignore. Safety on board vessels is of course a top priority, and to provide the extra safety requirements necessary to evacuate severely disabled people from a sinking vessel would be so prohibitive as to make ferry operation impossible. Make the best of what's available, that's my advice. Don't push companies too far. They will simply close the operation altogether, and then it's lost to everybody....including the disabled.
David, UK

My mother is wheelchair-bound because of a stroke. Over the last 10 years I have seen numerous improvements made - but so much more needs to be done in order to make people like her self-confident enough to venture anywhere without concern.
Robert del Valle, USA

Far too many of see a 'disability' as a disabled person's problem. The sooner we all realise that it is society that DIS-ables a person with a physical impairment the better. It's very simple to make shops, transport etc accessible, all we need to do is change our arrogant attitude of 'oh well never mind, I'm OK. This is your problem. You deal with it!' We should all look at America as a shining example.
Louise, Wales

I have a friend who is occasionally wheelchair bound due to the effects of serious illness which she is unlikely to recover from. Despite that she is game to try anything. On visiting a tourist railway in France she was invited to try out the disabled facilities. She came back with a pageful of complaints. Whilst the disabled toilet was big enough it lacked support bars. The washbasin had the wrong type of tap which meant the user had to apply pressure hard in order to be splashed all over. And as for getting on the train - the seating level was four feet above platform level. At this point she got out her wheelchair and had to be lifted into the carriage, where, to give the railway concerned its due, the ride was very comfortable. As a result of this, her husband is designing a disabled coach based on one of the many low slung chasses seen around the yard. Whilst I cite a French example, there are still too many cases of so called disabled facilities still inaccessible in the UK.
Hazel, UK

As a supplier of disabled access lifts, we constantly come across problems like this experience. We are encouraging suppliers of goods and services to think ahead of the October 2004 date where the Disability Discrimination Act requires suppliers of goods and services to the public to make their facilities fully accessible. We find that there is still a reluctance to supply a solution for obstructions which make a wheelchair user's life difficult.
Andrew Hughes, England


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