Accessibility Scotland 2019 – My Journey and Thoughts ♿

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recently I had the opportunity to go
back to accessibility Scotland which is a yearly accessibility conference it’s
only one of its kind in the UK I had an amazing time but this year was a little
bit different I went on my own which is normal I travel I’m a disabled person I
travel I can go places but the big difference this year was I went in my
wheelchair and so yeah this is a bit of a story bit of a breakdown of my journey
from Newcastle in a wheelchair to Edinburgh to the International
Conference Centre and how disability Scotland went for me so I wanted to go
to accessibility Scotland again because me there’s there’s nothing else like it
it’s the only the only conference the only event that I get to go to where I
feel comfortable I don’t need to worry about is it accessible can I get there
what about the venue normally when I go to events look at the run-up or even the
day off it’s very very difficult for me something like accessibility gone takes
all that away I don’t have to worry it’s gonna be signers is there gonna be
subtitles so for me it’s the comfort and it’s the familiarity and it’s there not
having to worry the only event that I can feel comfortable relax and actually
participate in so that’s that’s one reason and the other reason is just to
network to meet like-minded people when I go there I don’t need to explain spoon
theory I don’t need to explain and I forget words when I slow down a bit when
I get a bit so it’s it’s all there people people live the experience live
as disabled people or people who want to help with people who are interested in
accessibility I might work in that space and there’s
just nothing else like it yeah my first time on a train I myself it was amazing
actually I was very worried about it lead up to
that you eat a lot of horror stories and even on the BBC it’s or a story about
being pushed people being left on platforms you’ve been left on trains
that was my big worry going there it was perfect
I got met at the station a Newcastle I got boarded plenty of time
in my own sort of my own time the guy was friendly get a chat it was a
comfortable and pleasant experience when we got to Edinburgh I got off the train
that was fine as a person waiting their train terminated so I wasn’t in danger of being
left on the train everybody got off so that was good so I’m from there straight
through and back again it was it was perfect
getting off the train on Edinburgh they helped me off the train they took me all
the way to the taxi rank and the taxi rank is accessible which is amazing it’s
not something we get here in the North East unfortunately but yeah the
whole service was fantastic and I can’t thank LNER enough the taxis in
Edinburgh the black cabs are all accessible which was amazing I got to
the taxi rank and my experience in Newcastle is I have to wait for a few
minutes sometimes longer you have to wait for the right taxi to come and have
a station and Edinburgh that just wasn’t the case there were four taxis there I
could have gotten into any one of those taxis but first one had people in second
one was booked and I got into the third one it took minutes the ramp comes out
of the side of the new black cabs so there’s no awkward fumbling around while
the driver goes and gets the ramp and you’re stood there in the rain it just
works and yeah so that combined with the Train experience couldn’t have had a
better time and travelling in the wheelchair
so the different talks on the day were were fantastic and for me the biggest
takeaway the biggest thing I learned was the difference between empathy and
compassion we want compassion you want to be compassionate to disabled people
you don’t want to give empathy and for me it was learning the difference
between the two but learning it from from Matt May from Adobe who is not only
the head of accessibility of Adobe he’s also a Buddhist monk so it was quite
interesting some of the comparisons and some of the explanations and his deep
dive into empathy being not a bad thing but not unnecessary thing
was was the biggest takeaway and best thing I learned on the day so for me
the only way the only thing that could have made the conference better was if
it was went on longer if if you could maybe have on a two-day event or a
three-day event well just go for the whole week I would but but for me yeah
there’s nothing like to be improved I was lucky enough to get some merchandise
they don’t sell merchandise yet but I very cheeky asked and was even literally
t-shirts of people back so thanks for that so selling merch maybe having a
two-day event would would be good but the only the only minor niggle would be
the issue I had on the taxis they were accessible they were available they were
great but they were cash only which it’s not something I’m used to run
in Newcastle in the North East you can book by app you can pay by app you can
pay contactless so I wasn’t really expecting that but really if that’s the
only bad thing I have to say about my entire journey and experience I’m more
than happy with that yeah I would absolutely recommend accessibility
Scotland to to anybody whether you realize it or not accessibility affects
you and your job your service your role your company whatever it is you are
affected you have a you have an obligation to be accessible as possible
to to disabled people so absolutely everybody should go and it should be
should go for the right reasons you don’t want to go just to take a box you
want to go or a good reason you wanna go for compassion you want to go to learn
more to educate yourself and to to bring that knowledge and that information and
a different way of thinking back to your company your business your management
team whatever it might be I definitely recommend that people have a look if
videos are also available online so definitely worth checking out those and
if you can’t make the conference you


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