2020 has definitely been the year that turned all of our lives, upside down. Despite the Coronavirus ruining most of our plans, there are still many things I am grateful for. Whilst the news is constantly full of doom and gloom stories, I think it’s important for us to take a step back and reflect on some of the positive changes that have come out of this pandemic.
Keeping yourself social is definitely the key to maintaining your sanity during these tough times. Whether it's a group chat with your family, or a socially distanced meet up with your friends - keeping in contact is so important right now.
Whilst I'm sure we are all fed up of Skype calls and Zoom quizzes, how great has technology been during this pandemic?! Not only has it enabled many people to work from home, it has also provided us with hours of entertainment with our family and friends.
One thing that has surprised me most over the course of this pandemic is how certain businesses have made adjustments, which have in fact favoured those with disabilities. As a full-time wheelchair user myself, I have noticed several positive changes in certain areas of my community.
One of the most common examples of this is from food outlets. Many restaurants that may not have been accessible in the past - for example due to steps or lack of toilet facilities such as Changing Places - are now offering takeaway / home delivery services.
The Government have now also enforced table service in all bars and restaurants, which definitely benefits those of us with mobility issues. Although I am frustrated that it has taken a worldwide pandemic to force these changes, I am hopeful that certain measures will remain in place for the future.
I'm not going to lie, I'm quite a fan of this 2metre rule. From a young age I have always hated crowds, as it can be very daunting as a wheelchair user - especially for those of us who also struggle with anxiety.
Most recently, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw images online of the first "socially distanced" festival in Newcastle. Whilst I don't think events like this are necessary appropriate during the height of a pandemic, I was still intrigued to see what adaptions had been put in place.
People with disabilities have been campaigning for better access to live events for years now. In the past, outdoor festivals such as this can be difficult to manoeuvre as a wheelchair user - not only because of the vast amount of people, but due to the poor terrain and general littering on the ground. Raised platforms have not always been available either.
Most of the time the views for disabled customers are in restricted positions, or the platforms have been taken advantage of by other people who may not necessarily need them - hence why it was nice to see clear boundaries in this image.
Whilst this year has been pretty horrendous for most, I’d like to think it hasn’t been all bad. If 2020 has given us anything… it’s time. Time to reflect, time to appreciate and time to focus on what really is important in our lives.
At the end of the day everyone is fighting their own battles, so please take this as a gentle reminder to be kind.
by Ross Lannon for Ability Today