Positive Changes for People with Disabilities Over the Last 40 Years

If you are in your 50’s or older, you will remember a time when it was almost impossible for disabled people to get out and about and use certain goods and services. Drop down kerbs weren’t widespread, and narrow doorways or steps up to buildings meant that many shops, restaurants, pubs and other services just couldn’t be accessed at all. Now, the law has changed to ensure that reasonable provisions are made to allow disabled people access to relevant premises. In this article, Ransome Mobility, who supply and install mobility solutions including stairlifts, takes a brief glimpse at positive changes that have been made for people with disabilities over the last 40 years.

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In the 1970s, the Invacar (a blue coloured three wheeled vehicle supplied by the NHS) was used by many drivers with disabilities to get out and about. Production of the car ceased in 1976, although some vehicles were still being driven on the roads until 2003. The 70s also saw the introduction of the Orange Badge parking scheme, now replaced by the Blue Badge scheme that is still in use today; it allows drivers or passengers with disabilities to park closer to their destination.

The same decade (the 70s) saw the introduction of the Motability scheme, which gave people with limited mobility access to vehicles which could be altered to their individual needs. Fast forward 40 years and, from push pull hand controls to steering wheel balls, a host of car adaptations are available which can be fitted to a range of cars, including luxury brands such as Mercedes, Audis and Bentleys.

Businesses and Workplaces

The Equality Act 2010 was designed to protect against discrimination in the workplace and covers not only the early stages of job application process, but also at work, promotion and redundancies. It brought together various rules and regulations that stretched back 40 years (including the Disability Act 1995) and strengthened existing legislation. The Act states that all workers (regardless of age, gender, disability etc.) have equal rights in the workplace and employers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to premises to prevent any disadvantage for people with disabilities.

In addition to this, the Building Regulations state new buildings should be accessible by people with limited mobility, and those who have impaired sight or hearing. Advice and support is also available for owners of existing buildings to make the premises easier to enter.

In the Home

In the UK in 2002 only four out of ten homes had a personal computer. Now, according to the UK office for National Statistics (2013), 83 per cent of households have access to the internet – and of the remaining 17 per cent, half of these say the lack of internet access is simply down to personal choice.

Since the mid-1990’s the internet has opened up a world of possibilities for people with disabilities. From blogging to home shopping and deliveries, travel and communication, the power of the internet cannot be underestimated. From home you can check out reviews on the latest gadgets and equipment, send emails, update your Facebook page, find out information on various products (including WAV vehicles, and mobility solutions such as stairlifts), have two way interactive video calls, and get your opinions heard through the use of online surveys, petitions, or forums. This, together with smartphones, has revolutionised the way we communicate. It is also worth noting that in the developed world, there are now ten times as many mobile phone users to PC users.

In addition to this, the last 40 years has seen a rise in the number of mobility solutions, as well as improvements to existing products. With stairlifts, for instance, products are now stronger, safer and easier to use, and come with a range of options including safety switches, battery power, remote controls and powered swivel seats. They are more stylish, can fit a variety of staircases, and some can transport passengers weighing up to 30 stone. For more information on stairlifts or mobility products, contact Ransome Mobility today.