Life

Disability Services Exist For A Reason.

image_gallery Yesterday whilst I was at uni, I went up to the “disabled” toilet and to my surprise it was occupied. Now let me make it clear that I go to a very small private university in Melbourne and so far since I enrolled there in February I have only seen one other person with a disability and she does not have class on Fridays. I just simply went to another toilet and couldn’t be bothered to wait till it was vacant. On my way back to my class I thought to myself do people understand what disability services are or why they exist in the first place? About an hour or so later when I jumped onto the train and was looking for a seat, the people who were sitting on the “disabled” seats didn’t get up. I absolutely love the public transport system in Melbourne, every bus, tram and train has a specific section for people with special needs i.e. disability, pregnant women and the elderly. Back to the train story, fortunately for me there was a free seat which I happily took and got my head in the book I’m reading. It was interesting that after I had found a seat the man who was sitting on one of these special needs seats got up and these two men sat on it and one of them made an interesting comment. He said “oh these seats are for special needs people.” I already had a seat so I was ok. However a few weeks prior to this I had a similar thing happen which had the potential to go pear shaped very quickly. I actually found the whole thing quite amusing. I got onto the train at a busy train station in the city and it was a bit packed considering that it was the beginning of rush hour. Anyway I got onto the train and as I was looking for a seat, this man whom we shall man A got up and indicated that I could take the seat. From nowhere man B headed straight to the seat and wouldn’t get up. I just looked at it and laughed to myself. Then the person on the other special needs seat got up and said I could have that seat. This whole situation didn’t go down well with man A who confronted man B about what he had done but man B did not see anything wrong with what he had. Man A wouldn’t have any of that and asked man B to move over so they could share the seat. Man B did not respond which then prompted man A to force himself on the seat and man B eventually moved. Man A tried to explain to man B what he had done but he was still adamant that there was nothing wrong with he had done. All this unfolded before my eyes and like I said before I found it amusing. Back to the uni story, I just found myself questioning whether people understand why disability services exist? I remember someone once saying to me “I like using the disabled toilets cause they are always clean.” Do people realise that engaging in such actions inconveniences the people these services were designed for? On the other hand someone might argue that well if the disabled toilet is vacant why can’t I use it? Well you can’t use it because you don’t have a disability. Sometimes the state that these toilets are in is appalling and you can definitely tell that a person with a disability didn’t make that mess. Having said that though, I have to commend the Australia government for all they have done and continue to do for people with disabilities in this country. I’m not a citizen so I don’t benefit from any government assistance but I feel that the city is designed to cater for the needs of people with disabilities which I don’t see in my own home country. I know of one building in the city that has a disabled toilet but the door was broken and even the private school I went to didn’t even have a disabled toilet. It’s amazing the differences between the first and third world’s attitudes towards disability.

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