Sunday, October 07, 2007

Work, rights and the pointless law that is the DDA

I miss working in the classroom. I really, really miss it. My new job isn't going too badly, but the admin-heavy, individually-focused work is lacking the excitement of group teaching. Things may improve when the project I'm involved with gets off the ground. We shall see. I need to think about where I'm headed and what I want to do with myself in the future, both immediate and longer-term. The uncertainty created by ongoing medical stuff and an unclear prognosis is causing me worry. But that's for another post, when I've got it figured out a bit more clearly. In the meantime, being a disabled working person is tricky. Access to Work are utterly useless - the financial support they promise seems to be mostly mythical, and they create far more work for me than they improve things. I have been asking them if they could come and assess my needs at work for about four weeks now. No sign of them making any effort to follow through on that. I have written angry e-mails, TG has telephoned, I have thrown tantrums and threatened to hand in my notice - nothing. Helpful. Then there's the joy of trying to explain why it's difficult for me to cross three buildings in my wheelchair more than about twice a day. My manager's reasonable adjustment for that one was that I should have my lunch over in the other building. How do I explain that being isolated from my colleagues, my desk and all my resources and records is not exactly an answer? But I can't ask for any more considerations to be made for me at the moment, as the college has been making a whole lot of changes for me, and I've also been making it clear that I'm not exactly sure how well the job is going. Tricky, very tricky.

Did I write here about my accident? I fell backwards off a wheelchair ramp going up to a bus. It was a very badly designed ramp. I could have been very seriously hurt (although fortunately I didn't suffer too much more than a mild concussion and whiplash), and Marvin hasn't been right since (but then, he is a chair of a certain age). I am now too afraid to use buses alone. Needless to say, we are sueing the bus company involved. Not sure how that's going to go yet. I was quite disturbed to find out this week that the DDA doesn't cover the physical features of buses, only the service they provide - meaning that the law has absolutely no teeth at all when it comes to making transport accessible, and that the only way I can get some kind of improvement on these buses (and make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else) is to try and extort money out of them. This goes against most of my principles, but what else can I do? We live in a society where there are no individual rights, only corporations and capitalism. This distresses me quite seriously.

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