Having just enjoyed the festive holiday season I wonder how many outside of the disabled community thought of some of the extra little nuances that a holiday period brings to a disabled person's life?
For instance, when you choose somewhere to stay for a holiday, you probably thought about price and location right? Well for a disabled person they thought of that plus accessibility, plus whether they could get rental adaptive equipment, plus whether they could access support workers in the area to name just a few.
Disabled people also thought about whether they could access day trips on that holiday, be that theme parks, boat trips, beach trips or even the local shopping centre. Moving out of your home bubble can be terrifying for a disabled person. Sometimes to the point of it all being too difficult.
Even if they were to spend holidays at home this still comes with challenges. Their support workers obviously have a family of their own and deserve a break so working through the logistics of less staff is a challenge.
Healthcare during the holiday period again is a logistical nightmare for some. Planning medication so it does not run out during public holidays is crucial. All with the ever-present danger for equipment breakdown during a period where repairs will be doubtful.
Even the simplest activity of visiting a friend or family for Xmas lunch that you wouldn’t normally visit is cause for a plan for a disabled person. Is their house accessible? Does their bathroom suit my needs? Many disabled people rely on public transport. During this time it can be unreliable again a socially isolating experience.
For some disabled people, their disability advocacy organisation may be a lifeline holding off social isolation also. This may be closed during this period. Leading to fear and anxiety.
Disabled people tend to be ordered and organised, there is a reason for this. We need to be. Logistics is the difference between inclusion and exclusion. This is the case at the best of times. In your home environment during any given weekday. Having your differences and disability exacerbated by the holiday period is fear-inducing for many.
The privilege of a careful holiday is unfortunately not yet for all. It is, for this reason, we must continue to strive for inclusion. As only when disabled people are full citizens of the community will we all be able to enjoy our holiday together.
About the writer:
Geoff Trappett OAM is a former Paralympic Athlete. With a career that spanned 2 world championships, 2 paralympic games, a gold medal in Sydney 2000 and a world record. Following on from sport Geoff has transitioned to working professionally in multiple senior executive roles in the disability sector both within disability service providers and disabled person run advocacy organisations. Now leading his own social policy change organisation Inclusion Moves developing inclusion and diversity plans in the corporate world and speaking out on human rights and disability inclusion related issues.