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  • : freewheeling
  • : Blog on being a disabled person, different cultures, diversity, equality, disability, travel, being diaspora Chinese and disabled travel.
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Here are some of my photos. This shows some of my travels.


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Books I am reading

Xiaolu Guo
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
A love story - cultural differences, misunderstandings and yes, I see what she is saying.
Su Tong
Binu and the Great Wall

Binu and the Great Wall

Binu And The Great Wall is a wonderful myth retold in the words of Su Tong, the author of ‘Rice’.  The myth of Binu and how her tears washed away the Great Wall have been passed down through the ages. It is a tale of hardship, brutality and undying love. Su Tong’s version of the myth, brings to the reader the harshness and brutality that led to the constuction of the wall and the terrible effects it had on the common people.

30 septembre 2008 2 30 /09 /septembre /2008 03:52
Do I feel I have the same choice and control as a non disabled person? We examined this question at the Equality 2025 Walsall public meeting today.

On the face of it, it seems like a silly question. So much of my life is tied up with what I cannot do or how I organise my life so that I can do things that others might take on granted.

To give examples: housing - Finding accesible accomodation is so difficult, ah maybe I should say, finding accessible and affordable housing is a real barrier to having choice and control over where I can live. If I were not a wheelchair user, I can bag the loft, the top flat or that split level mezzanine.

transport: I can hop on the National Express wthout needing to give them extensive information on the type of wheelchair I use. And on any routes not the one single route which is accessible. Oh, I didn't mention the London Underground.

Leisure activities: I would be able to go swimming without worrying about the hoist. I would like to be able to use the machines instead of needing to set times to exercise with instructors who cancel because they have to give classes.

Social services packages: well, I wouldn't need this! I would be able to move accordingly to where there are jobs..

Jobs: did I mention employment? Maybe I should ask what job?

travel: would I have to book into 4 star hotels if I did not need level access? can I not go stay at that tiny little hotel in the latin quarter? upstairs, oh never mind...restaurants? oh, it has a ramp, great but the bathrooms are downstairs? oh dear....

As for relationships...I think i have made the point, what choice and control?
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30 septembre 2008 2 30 /09 /septembre /2008 03:45
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to friends back home in Malaysia. I am not sure what they wish here - I think it is Happy Eid.

Over here I was working - I went to a public meeting in Walsall.
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22 septembre 2008 1 22 /09 /septembre /2008 00:08
I found myself on a train to Plymouth on the way to a meeting at the Eden Project, St Austell
Without going into the boring details, I ended up staying in a Plymouth hotel to take a taxi to St Austell the next morning. I found that a bit ridiculous so I booked myself at a hotel nearer St Austell about 3 miles away at the Prmier Inn.

The Eden Project touts itself as a very accessible tourist spot with some spectacular global gardens. I was pleased to find I had a couple of hours to spend there after my meeting. Alas, I spend the entire time trying to get me a taxi to go 3 miles down the road. The taxi number which was provided had a service which did school runs (was based in Truro, 18 miles away) and did not run after 6 pm..The lady at the reception desk was very good she went to the council for information about accessible taxis - at the end of a very long period, she got a taxi. So I was there and did not get to see any part of the Park.

The taxi driver then told me that he had provided Eden Project with his taxi cards many times but they refuse to acknowledge them preffering for customers to get the other taxi from far distance rather than to settle for local service. It is probably a procurement issue. But it means I was left feeling very very frustrated because I had spend all time to on finding a taxi to my hotel. The website had a lot of bus information - unfortunately the only accessible hotel I found was not near an accessible busroute.. So near yet so far...

Here is St Austell's own accessible taxi firm: .Gary's Taxis phone number - 07989963372 and his email is xgazzax@aol.com
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16 septembre 2008 2 16 /09 /septembre /2008 23:39
I was in Norway to attend a seminar and visited ULOBA - the only co operative for personal assistance in Norway if not the world. They look like a great success which is sustainable, they own their building and it had great facilities with a well equipped conference room and facilities, I was impressed.

But I am not so impressed by access in Norway - I was only in Oslo for a short while. I could not find an accessible loo and in fact, could not locate a place to have a coffee which was not exposed to the elements - I know it is only September but I was cold. My new friend Hild showed me an accessible loo in a shopping centre which was by no means clean. But I was given to understand that disabled people get generous social care - so much so they are deemed not to lead public transport.

I didn't find many disabled people in the streets of Oslo even though I was wandering in the city center - even the Hard Rock Cafe was not accessible but many Burger Kings were. Some of the curbcuts were quite high. I did not see a single blind man or guide dog - probably because it would be difficult to negotiate, there was no tactile paving and the beeb that goes on the crossings seem a tad confusing to me.

In the garden near the National Theatre I found a nice shelter where they did hot tom yum soup noodles. The Thon Hotel Munch was a reasonable accessible hotel (with a roll in shower). There was also a nice Chinese restaurant next door ( up a small step). The staff was helpful but there is no hot drinks - hot water for tea costs about 25 kroner (>£2.50). Breakfast was continental with an egg and baked beans..

The most spectacular is the opera house - where you can wheel and climb up to the top but I chickened out before I got to the top.

Opera House Oslo

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31 août 2008 7 31 /08 /août /2008 21:39
Yesterday I was at the Liberty Festival 2008 in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Sq - Liberty Festival

It was a lovely day, very warm and sunny.  I saw a bit of wheelchair dancing, Liz Carr and Laurence Clark with his comedy act but most of the time i was helping out at a stand.

I did manage to visit some other stalls such as Artsline (bought 2 tee shirts), Attitude is Everything and the British Disabled Flying Association

David Morris was dressed as a chef because of his restaurant/ Bistro. The restaurant theme was accessible food - which had its own programme of music and poetry.

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31 août 2008 7 31 /08 /août /2008 21:09
Following my complaint to Hastings bus company  about my being unable to get on their low access buses, I recieved this e-mail from the manager:

Dear Ms....

I have checked all the vehicles and everyone works. All are manual ramps. I have seen the driver who told you his ramp did not work, I have taken him to the vehicle concerned and pressed the button and pulled out the ramp. Clearly the issue was not one of a defective ramp but a driver who either didn't understand how to operate it or didn't want to operate it. Either way I have instigated a retraining programme for staff and will take disciplinary action against anyone who fails to comply with the rules.

Hooray! I guess he realised the implications of  DDA non compliance - this is still great that he has taken action.
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31 août 2008 7 31 /08 /août /2008 18:44

I recieved this in my e-mail from Wheelchair Steve, Steve Wilkinson. I thought this sounded like a great idea! Let's see if it gets taken up. Actually there is a local Chinese restaurant near me which closes its premises downstairs and serves only upstairs in the evening that I would like to see to impose the signage or a bell for service. I recommended it to them but they have not done anything about it yet.

My recommendation is to enforce every business to have a similar door bell. When rung, someone should respond within a reasonable period of time (not necessarily as quick as 15 seconds). Communication can then take place with the disabled person to agree how they can receive a service from the business. This would be based on the accessibility they have and the specific needs of the disabled person, which can be established during the communication. (I use the word “communication”, as this may not necessarily be verbal if, for example, the person’s disability restricts verbal communication).

I would like to see an amendment made to the DDA to make it compulsory for every business to have signage at each public or visitor entrance, with a door bell at a minimum of one of these entrances.  It may be preferable for this to be some form of intercom, perhaps even with a hearing induction loop facility, but appropriate signage, a door bell and someone responding promptly would be the minimum.

Unlike the rest of the DDA, I would propose this aspect of the legislation be monitored by a Government body similar to Trading Standards or the Health and Safety Executive (it could even be one of them).  Fixed “on the spot” penalties, say £60, would be imposed for failure to comply.

Read more at Wheelchair Steve's blog
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24 août 2008 7 24 /08 /août /2008 18:09
Well not quite because I do go to other cultural events during the year but it felt like that.

I went on my own. My tastes can be eccletic. Not wishing to compromise on my choice of shows for someone elses taste in music/dance/shows nor limiting events due to venue inaccessiblity for others. It is also good to have the freedom to meander..

Some of the best things were free - such as the shows or little trailers on the Royal Mile. I was not very good at making decisions about what to see and for the first day, was just trying to sort out how to read the programmes, figure out where the venues were and their accessibility.

Here are some of my impressions of the shows I did manage to see:

InvAsian Festival: Coral's Red Dance & Kimho Ip's Music

I really did not know what to expect when I got there  but  I was  pleasantly  surprised to hear the hammered dulcimer of Kimho Ip  and even more to hear Chinese poetry recited  in Cantonese during a cheroegraphed dance with three woman. I wanted to ask more questions, for instance there was a part where two of the dancers were linked together by a thread tied at the ankle and held taut. What did that symbolise? And at the end of the dance sequence,  one woman dancer carried out the other - how was that and why?

I did manage to speak to
Coral afterwards where she told me of her enjoyment of choreographing. I did not think of asking her those questions.

InvAsian Festival: Vismayaha

Vibrant dancing, colourful costumes and tales of Krishna and his women. There is a child dancing too - representing the young krishna. There is also a non Indian woman (might be two of them) and some celtic music mixed in. I was slightly confused  at times.  There was also a male dancer very  strong balancing  a water pot on his head and  on a metallic plate. Thoroughly enjoyable and lively with an appreciative audience.

clubWEST@quincentenary Hall, Royal College of Surgeons ( this venue has one steep step to get in - there are people around to help but it would be easier and would not be difficult for them to have a temporary ramp).


Nick Mohammed Is A Character Comedian

He is like a whirlwind - several characters all at once - I think there was a student, a hairdresser, an interviewer, an ESP lecturer. Slightly camp at times, man or woman? Cockney? posh?

The Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh (mostly accessible but very cobbley)



This had good reviews but there were times when I nearly fell asleep because the lights were so dim and the music throbbed - looking at the youtube video made me appreciate it better.

Angel and the Woodcutter

Angel and Woodcutter cast

Absolutely fantastic. There were many wet eyes at the end of the show. My favourite show at the festival - and the best performance for me was from the woman who played the mother. The story is very typically Korean - struggle between the mother in law and daughter in law over the son. And the heartbreaking disruptions of war on the family. There was a pivatol scene when Angel  accepted  her mother in law's  into  her life and  they went together in search for the conscripted son taking the baby with them.  I also loved  the way they manipulated the stuffed doll  into a very good  inpression of a toddler.  This dance is very graphic and  there is humour, energy, and the  rape scene  which  was very real in its portrayal.

Kamui  Spirit of the Samurai

Samurai swordplay from the 'Kill Bill*'s fight choreographer.. As a reviewer said, the start was impressive but after a while it got a bit repetitive. I wondered at the presence of the girl - her sole purpose was to look pretty and be the reason for a fight. I thought in a Chinese kungfu sequence, the women would be equal fighters not just be objects for gallantry and to be rescued.

@ Zoo Southside ( accessible from a side ramp which leads to a back entrance. The lift is quite small)

There were many shows I wanted to see but in three days with the rainy weather and negotiating the venues and meeting friends, I think I did quite well. I am sorry I missed Chess a dance tragedy from Taiwan but Universal Arts Theatre was said to be inaccessible with several steps.

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18 août 2008 1 18 /08 /août /2008 02:55
When I was working in Massachusetts, I had the fortune of contacting and talking to Tom Olin who was kind enough to give me permission for one of my favourite photos from the disability movement - I cannot find a bigger version of this picture.

  ©Tom Olin

Here is a tribute to him and his work by Mike Ervin and Pat Figueroa, Jr.
 Tom Olin holds his camera up while loolomg tpo the side

Tom Olin is someone everybody sees at national disability events, but few realize what he has done.

Olin, director of the Disability Rights Center, is known for his pictures. But, more than simply a photographer, he is a photojournalist and social documentarian. Olin’s photos have produced a pictorial chronicle unrivaled in the history of American ideology, including the civil rights and women’s movements.

Read the rest at Independence Today


Thank you Tom for all your photos!
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18 août 2008 1 18 /08 /août /2008 02:26
At last this is finished. This is my own access auditing video of the interview with David Bancroft of the Herbert -

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