I’m no fan of supermarkets. Trolling around one in a wheelchair on a Saturday morning, indeed anytime of the day or night, is not my idea of fun. It was necessity on both counts: I needed some food, and I can’t currently walk after surgery.
As I work with people who have various disabilities, I am not unaware of, or unsympathetic to the potential issues, but it is still something of a shock when the ignorance of the general public, and stupidity of corporations smacks you head on.
There is no room in a supermarket for a wheelchair and a shopping trolley, and it seems to be the law that shopping trolleys have right of way. I sat politely on a number of occasions waiting for trolleys, and the people loosely attached to them, to move. If I had a horn on my wheelchair I would have been less patient and certainly less polite.
Shelves are designed for people significantly over 5 feet tall, and I can categorically say there is very little I want that is on the bottom of a supermarket shelf. Some of the checkouts are too narrow for wheelchairs, and unless you can levitate, or are built the size of Hagrid, chip and pin machines seem to be too high to insert the appropriate payment card. The checkout assistant was polite but addressed their remarks ostensibly to the person assisting me, and even gave my card and receipt back to them!
I was in and out of the shop mercifully quickly, and thankfully my disability is temporary; I am sure there are far more trials and terrors awaiting those who have to rely permanently on mobility aids. In an age where equal opportunity is embedded in legislation and discrimination is an appropriately dirty word, surely we can muster a bit of enlightenment when it comes to design, and common decency and common sense should be, well, a bit more common…..