Posts Tagged "travel"

Court rules strollers have priority over wheelchairs

Posted on Dec 13, 2014 | 0 comments

Court rules strollers have priority over wheelchairs

This week in Britain, a court of appeal ruled that bus companies don’t have to prioritise wheelchair users over mothers pushing strollers. It’s a decision that pits buggies against wheelchairs and mothers against the disabled. That’s not a battle I feel comfortable with. And does it even exist? After all, I’m a mother and I have a disabled daughter – that’s one mighty internal struggle. On BabyCentre, I wrote about the ruling and was pleased that majority of folk on the web site and then on their Facebook page agreed: that outside of extreme situations, most people would fold up their strollers or leave the bus if they couldn’t, so that wheelchair users could board and take the one single spot allocated to them. Here’s the post: I’m the parent to a little girl who needs a wheelchair. But, I’m not fighting other mothers. I’m fighting perception. Normal life, like riding a bus, is a struggle for us. Not the struggle of pushing two kids in a double buggy through the rain while holding three bags of shopping. It is the struggle of people thinking that that situation is on par with ours. My daughter is severely disabled. There is no adequate rain cover for her wheelchair like buggies have. She is unable to physically wipe the raindrops out of her eyes as we wait for one bus and then a second and then a third to drive past us because there is no room for her. May in her wheelchair, 2014 And while we wait, with her in her chair and me holding those bags of shopping, I need to wipe the rain from her face, watch out that she doesn’t have a seizure and hold a bottle to her mouth to soothe her. She is five. To be honest, I don’t take my daughter on the bus. I don’t. There is always the chance there won’t be room for her in the space provided. Really, I can’t wait for three buses until there is room because, like most kids, she will have a screaming fit if we are waiting 40 minutes for a bus. (Of course, most kids will get on the first bus because, unlike my daughter, the bus company provides more than one space for them.) Speaking of it in terms of priority is misleading. The issue is fair and equal access. This ruling means my daughter does not have the same right to a space on the bus as everyone else. The short reason is buggies. The long reason is more complicated. A bus stuffed with commuters who helplessly shrug when the doors open and we are meant to squeeze through them to the disabled space. The space to hold folded buggies jam-packed with bags of groceries. Irritable mothers on little sleep with their toddler who has finally stopped screaming and is dozing. Do I ask her to move? Do I dare? These are not comfortable situations for me. People say they would be happy to vacate disabled facilities (toilets, parking spaces, areas on trains), all a disabled person has to do is ask. In reality, when we do ask we always take the chance the person will bite our heads off. In a crowded bus, jammed body to body and sopping wet with the rain, everyone feels hard done by. It’s an issue of perception. If you are not disabled or have an intimate knowledge of what it is like, this ruling may appear to cause only irritation or minor delays. If you don’t get on the first bus, you just get on the second. Isn’t that what all of us experience on public transport? Our experience is not the same. Mothers with babies or toddlers have the ability to stand, fold their buggy however awkward that is and carry or sit their baby on...

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Kids all access… the Barbican Arts Centre

Posted on Feb 17, 2014 | 2 comments

Kids all access… the Barbican Arts Centre

Oh, Barbican Arts Centre: you audacious modernist complex, you concrete slabs and jutting angles, you that supplies not one, but six different flavours of ice cream (of which I bought four of today, yum). Oh, Barbican Arts Centre: I think I’m a little bit in love with you. Here’s a brief list of the reasons why: Free parking for Blue Badge holders Free carer ticket to events* Lifts, wide corridors, automatic doors – everywhere Easy access to wheelchair seats – and they are good seats Home to the London Symphony Orchestra – lovelovelove   May has been to many exhibits/concerts at the Barbican. It is not a solemn and pretentious arts venue. It is a noisy place where her screams of glee or complaints are masked behind the screams of glee or complaints of hundreds of other children. It is the perfect place for children, disabled or not. Did you know, for example, that the audacious modernism I mentioned earlier is actually a playground for children? I didn’t either until I saw hundreds of the little buggers sliding down the Barbican’s banisters and chasing each other up and down the stairs, and outside weaving in and out of the pillars in the gardens. It is a space that is meant for fun, and fun for everyone. Incidentally, though we have been to other things there, I mentioned the LSO particularly because May has seen them perform four times now. Their family concerts, during the school holidays, are ridiculously inexpensive (£10 adult/£5 child – and don’t forget that free carer ticket). And they include free music, craft and story workshops beforehand. And a free creche for under-7s (that I’ve used four times for my son and is marvellous). Ice cream is extra. But worth it. More information: Disabled access guide to the Barbican  The Barbican has a Changing Places facility * Free carer tickets available once you sign up for an access pass online Kids all access… London is an on-going series on Mama Lewis to encourage special needs families to explore London. If you want May to review your attraction or know of one she should definitely see, please comment below or...

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Will this product revolutionize seating for disabled kids?

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 | 5 comments

Will this product revolutionize seating for disabled kids?

When I was a toddler, I sat in a red rocking chair and read books. I would drink in each page as if I was digesting War and Peace. Page one: picture of a drum. Page two: a ball. Later, my son sat in the same chair, reading the same book. He didn’t just sit on it, he used it to propel himself up to stand and then to walk. None of those options were ever in the cards for May. She can’t read or stand or – until now – sit using that beloved red rocking chair. A couple of months ago, the Leckey company sent me their new Firefly GoTo seat to test out. Leckey is the same company that had my daughter walking within 30 seconds of using their KidWalk walker. The GoTo seat is essentially a harness attached to a cushioned board- a very simple design that should allow a child like May to sit independently in situations they normally could not. A chair at a restaurant. A seat on an airplane. At first we had no success. At the grocery store, once installed, May couldn’t sit comfortably in the toddler seat attached to the shopping trolley. After all, she is almost four and a half; she was too big and the Firefly GoTo seat took up a bit of room itself. In our normal chairs at home, the backs were too upright for her to hold her head up comfortably once harnessed in. I was beginning to think it wouldn’t work. Perhaps May’s lack of body control was too severe to use it. Then, I had a brainstorm when I saw that little red rocking chair collecting dust in a corner of our living room. May always loved her old Bumbo seat, but she is far too big for it now. We use a larger one on occasion, but she’s never taken to it in the same way. If it worked, the GoTo seat could attach to the rocking chair and give her the opportunity to rock herself, as she had in the Bumbo. Here she is trying it for the first time: What do I like about the seat? 1) May feels secure in the harness which 2) attached easily to a very unorthodox seat for a disabled child and 3) kept her in a good position (feet firmly on the floor and encouraging her to lift her head and hold it in midline). It is very rare we are introduced to a new toy or equipment or anything that May enjoys as much, or for as long – 30 minutes straight in her first seating. Click for full photos: Five point harness and high, cushioned seat that supports May’s head. Two adjustable straps attach across the back of the chair and one underneath Feet in relaxed and good position My only issue was that the harness kept slipping down her left shoulder. Admittedly, May’s shoulders are very slim, but I think it was partially to do with the angle of the strap. Problems we had earlier with using the seat wouldn’t be so problematic for children who are smaller/younger than May (shopping trolley) or have better body control (table seats). In the future, I hope that the GoTo Seat will allow special needs family participation for May where it doesn’t exist now. It will accompany May on our next flight to the States, and who knows where else we’ll GoTo. (See what I did there? I’m not above a bad pun.) Disclaimer: Leckey sent me a seat to review. All opinions are my own. All giggles...

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Kids All Access… Hampton Court Palace

Posted on Sep 12, 2013 | 3 comments

Kids All Access… Hampton Court Palace

As if our children don’t already feel like royalty, why not treat them like it! And, so it was that I celebrated my 40th birthday properly. Not rushed in a quick meal down the road. Not rushed with a toast over dinner sitting in front of the television. I took myself and my family and friends and stayed in a palace, Hampton Court Palace, for the weekend. Children pick up on the atmosphere of their parents. May, too. She has a long history of sensing negative situations. I worried that the kids wouldn’t enjoy it, because after all – despite what I said above, I would struggle to put them down if they became distressed. I certainly could not guarantee that May or Ieuan would appreciate the historical significance of Henry the VIII’s palace. But, I hoped they might like at least like the garden attached to the house. And, they did! May delighted at the cobblestone and pebbled paths throughout the palace. She loved the vibrations of her buggy juttering over stones. I could never have predicted that. Sensory experiences included ingredients in the King’s kitchen to hold and sniff, and beautiful walks through the expansive gardens. May’s wheelchair could even access the famous garden hedge maze. And, Ieuan loved the house with its many doors and trying to out run us to the grand staircase that was just perfect for climbing. It was baby paradise. More importantly – and it was – we enjoyed it. We deserved it. Selfishness is gooooood. Despite Hampton Court Palace being built by Henry the VIII access is completely modernised for disabled princesses and princes. We were personally escorted around the Palace, behind roped off areas and into lifts that allowed us to reach all the rooms on the higher levels of the Palace. The eateries and toilets also have level access. Click on the photos to see the Georgian House where we stayed!   For more information on disabled access to the Hampton Court Palace see their web site for disabled access information. And, if you want to stay for a week or the weekend in the Georgian House on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, like we did, visit the web site for the Landmark Trust who run the property. Be warned, the property itself is not accessible. We had to lift May up and down stairs, a minor inconvenience for us but probably not so minor if she was five years older! Kids all access… London is an on-going series on Mama Lewis to encourage special needs families to explore London. If you want May to review your attraction or know of one she should definitely see, please comment below or...

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Kids all access… The Tate Modern

Posted on Jun 28, 2013 | 4 comments

Kids all access… The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern art gallery is an ex-power plant. It is the most visited art gallery in Britain, by people of all ages. And, of all the art galleries, it really is perfect for families. Its cavernous rooms are easily negotiated by a stroller or wheelchair. There are numerous lifts and disabled toilets on every floor. High ceilings swallow up both screaming children and parents yelling, “Don’t touch… oh no, too late.” Of course, being an art gallery, some people may not be as eager for your children to race around the gallery space. (What do they know?) These people generally fall into two categories: Type 1: “Unlike me and my fellow art aficionados – all wearing tight, black clothing draped with scarves – your child can’t possibly appreciate high art.” Type 2: “What is that pretentious mother thinking? She must actually believe her child can appreciate this high art!” However, the Tate Modern itself does not feel this way. They run children specific workshops and activities. And, their Open Studio for children gives them the opportunity to test out their talents. The greatest delight of the Tate Modern is how stimulating it is for children with special needs. The enormous canvases painted with bold, primary colors and placed on white plain walls aid the visual experience for children like May, with cognitive visual impairments. But, as a modern art gallery, they also showcase art that covering sound and performance. Their Turbine Hall is famous for its extravagant pieces. May and I attended one where the artist filled the floor of the hall with millions of crafted, porcelain sunflower seeds. Attendees were encouraged to stroll and sit and disturb the seeds in any way they choose. May lay on them. She kicked them. She leaned on them and buried her toes in them. Far from pretentious, the Tate Modern is a delight. And, it is located right on the River Thames, and the start of the (also entirely accessible) Millennium Bridge crossing to St. Paul’s Cathedral. For more about visiting The Tate Modern if your child has a disability, their web site provides  disabled access information. And, check out their Touch Tour for the visually impaired. _____ Kids all access… is a new series on Mama Lewis to open up London’s biggest attractions to families with disabled children. Read Kids all access… Kew Gardens for another wonderful day out. If you have any ideas for the series, please comment below or email me at contact@stacielewis.com. Read more about May’s excursions at The Tate Modern: This week… I’m going places May and Mama’s adventures in Modern Art And yes, this post was a bit of a distraction from all the hoopla of recent...

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