Monday, 3 June 2019

What do I mean by accessible?

I thought I knew what "accessible" meant as an engineer - step free access to the building and a push button front door.
No! Not even close.

I thought I knew what "accessible" meant as a minister - a ramped route to the church, an open door for services, a hearing loop and friendly helpful people.
Getting better, but... Not enough!

I thought I knew what "accessible" meant as a blind wheelchair user - all the above plus wide door ways, rooms with space for wheelchairs and their turning circles, places for wheelchairs in various locations to give choice, Braille and large print and (even better) electronic materials in advance, accessible toilets and people who understand that disabled people have much to offer.
Much better. But what about provisions for other disabilities such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, pain and fatigue disabilities and autism....

I'm still learning what accessible really means, both through my own experience and that of other disabled people I meet.  But what I've learned is that there is no definition of "accessible" that fits everyone. Or at least not anywhere I've found.

As a disabled person I can never make any assumption on accessibility anywhere.  I need to take into account all of the following issues:

1. The driving and parking or public transport access and it's proximity to the venue
2. The energy this travel uses and therefore what will be left
3. The access to the venue
4. The toilet facilities at the venue
5. The information provision for sight loss at the venue
6. The noise levels inside the venue since echoes and lots of conflicting noise are pain inducing (though music is not)
7. The food options at the venue (though I can bring my own)
8. The length of time I need to be at the venue
9. The possibility of any rest space at the venue
10. The return trip home

Everywhere I go I have to ring to check all of these details.  This is true for every form of transport, every church, every museum, every concert, every place I eat, everywhere I stay.

I can't rely on the internet, although I've no idea how anyone coped before it; I've learned the internet can be mistaken or just plain wrong.  I have to email and ring to get details of facilities and even then I've learned to get confirmation in writing after a wheelchair accessible room couldn't fit my wheelchair into the bathroom!

So please don't ever assume that somewhere is accessible unless you know what access I need; and please don't state somewhere is accessible without stating what that means exactly.

Provision of clear access information is essential for everyone but especially anyone with disabilities for whom it can be a catastrophe (literally) if we arrive somewhere and there's no adequate facilities.

I don't expect everywhere to be perfect, but I like to know what I'm going to find before I use a lot of energy getting somewhere inaccessible to me.

PS - would you be surprised that some of the worst places for true accessibility are...... Hospitals!

A wheel walk in the wild with the Bible

Cruise poetry 2019

Sailing the oceans
A great way to roam
Only memory suffices
Now we're back home

Two weeks of adventure
Visiting places anew
Through storms we travelled
To skies of pure blue

Vigo surprised us
A safe change of port
Dodging the showers
Luckily we weren't caught

Onto Oporto
The beach was our place
Chilled in the sunshine
Warmth on our face

Sea days brought singing
A treasure hunt too
Reading, revising
A cocktail, or few

Next was Valencia
A gem of a city
So much to visit
Soaking up history

Beautiful cathedral
Palm Sunday processions
String trio busking
Music to the heavens

Sea days and nights
Relaxation a plenty
Acrobats, Showtime
Music and Comedy

Gibraltar, a rock
Much more than expected
A monkey in hand
Photo perfected

Freak high tide so ...
No wheels on Cartagena
But family got ashore
Video'd from amphitheatre

So much food choice
Relaxed or formal
We tried it all
Waist bigger than normal

Last port was Lisbon
But ramp was too steep
At least missed the rain
And caught up on sleep

Last day at sea
Busy programme of mine
Can't squeeze it all in
Before choir concert time

Throw clothes in cases
Final dinner onboard
Music comedy genius
Keep spirits soared

We've brought the sun home
Still warm on the deck
Thank you Azura
For our waterborne trek


Creative prayer

I created this during my personal worship one morning, whilst praying and singing. 

The background shapes and colours were very much a gift through the music whilst the words in white circles came as in prayers of thanksgiving and the words in black circles through prayers of lament.

  There’s a lot in this which I know God is working through in me.

Blind Bartimaeus: my blind reflection

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:52

My brief reflection on the healing of blind bartimaeus is that it was more about the healing of his spiritual sight than of his physical sight. That we're all too blind to fully see the true majesty, wonder and glory of God.

Since becoming blind I've also come to realise the blessing that sight loss has been to me in my relationship with God. I have to rely on him now, I can't rely entirely on myself any more; ever single day I am thankful to the holy spirit for guiding me and for Jesus's teaching of patience and for God's love in my life. Without my sight loss I never would have experienced these blessings. Blindness has healed my blind heart.

Out of this world

Create a planet
A world of your own
Whatever you fancy
A place to call home

What would it look like?
Where would you roam?
Who'd be invited?
Would you live there alone?

It's a place of peace
Where none seek power
All working as one
All pulling together

Caring, sustaining
Improve for the better
Growing and pruning
Ensure future forever

But does this ideal
Have to be elsewhere?
Can't it be Earth
If enough of us care?

Let's form the ideal
Right here on this planet
Let's turn things around
There's enough of us want it


Bereaved son
Caring husband
Family man

Peace keeper

Cheeky, appropriately
Creative, practically
Present, fully

Playful with kids
Cool with teens
Understanding of parents
Available for his friends
Compassionate to bereaved
Endlessly present

Sharer of memories
Sparker of ideas
Smiler in troubles
Saver of situations
Simply fantastic

Dignified in ill health
A model of patience
Living each day

I'll never forget
The chats and tales
The wisdom he shared
The laughter and tears
The amazing man he was.

A few flakes

Just a few flakes
A short flurry of white
Not enough for a snowman
Unless it's quite slight
Another day on and it's
Raining instead
You don't know what you'll see
When you get out of bed.

Preschool Easter songs

I've been asked a few times of the years for preschool songs about Easter.  It's obviously too late for this year, but here are three which will hopefully help someone in the years to come.

"The Bible tells me so
To the tune of "Mary had a Little Lamb".

God the Father gave a gift;
Gave a gift, for you and me;
Jesus is that special gift;
The bible tells me so.
Mother, Father, family, Friends
Everyone who loves me so
They are gifts God gave to me;
The Bible tells me so.
Jesus gives the gift of love;
Peace and love into the world;
Love to share with everyone;
The Bible tells me so.

Hot cross buns song

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
On Good Friday,
They are yummy,
Hot cross buns.
Before the Easter eggs,
Enjoy a hot cross bun,
On Good Friday,
They are yummy,
Hot cross buns.
Spice from his homeland
A cross on the top
On Good Friday,
They are yummy,
Hot cross buns.

Twinkle twinkle Easter star

Twinkle twinkle Easter star
Jesus saw you where you are
Up above the world we know
Like 2000 years ago
Twinkle twinkle Easter star
Reminds us just how loved we are


A time to remember a
Beautiful lady who
Chatted and chortled,
Dreamed and discussed
Eight decades of life
Full of lessons and love.
Gorgeous of soul
Hopeful of heart
I was inspired by
June every time we met
Knowing she'd share her
Love, wisdom and heart.
More than that, she had
No pretences, no acts or falseness
Only honesty, as she saw it
Purely her take
Quoted from memory, often
Riotously funny.
Today at her funeral we
Uplift June's soul
Venturing through grief
With family and friends
eXpressing our sadness
Yet thanking God for her
Zest for life.