Making places accessible with Amber Shaw
Amber Shaw, aged 17, from Little Hulton, who has a rare genetic condition that causes severe hypomobility and dislocations, works with Beyond Empower to provide consultation on what accessible spaces should look like for wheelchair users.
“I have not always been sporty, when I was at school it was really difficult as there was a lack of understanding around my abilities and a lack of thought and imagination as to how it could work better to me, so I ended up not being able to join in at all.
“Often, it does not have to be big changes, but the important thing is to ask disabled people what they would need in the first place and for them to be a part of any consultation on green space, street design or activity planning, so working with Beyond Empower to increase disabled peoples’ involvement is brilliant. It can be as simple as using concrete or tarmac, not bark or pebbles in parks and having no bollards, and making sure pathways are wide.
“Although I have not always had great experience of being able to join in with activities, I do use my local gym a lot, and I don’t feel like I have been an after-thought. And I do enjoy horse-riding, swimming, and golf – and I want more wheelchair uses to be able to enjoy being active too!”
Mumnne Shaw, aged 36, added: ““It can sometimes feel like disabled people are seen as the problem, when the reality is, it is other people’s attitudes and perceptions.
“A lot of it is common sense to us. But sometimes people who are creating parks and green spaces or activity centres, or even just new pathways and bike lanes, need to just take a step back and understand how they would be used and enjoyed by someone who doesn’t look or move like them. And if they don’t understand they need to involve the people that do – they just need to ask.”
“Being a part of the consultation process, would save a lot of money as well as being better for everyone. The more disabled people that are included in the design process of spaces, places, and activities the better.”