Getting Airport Help for the Disabled
The world of disability is the world of frozen images. I live in a country that never had to deal directly with the pain of the disabled. People would talk about it occasionally, but as long as it is not their problem they would not bother. The “invalid” a derogatory notion that has stuck with me ever since that fateful accident when I was twelve is a lonely person, having no life, no goals, no aspirations, receiving little support from the government, and for the major part forced to rely on other people’s kindness. So what kind of assistance for the physically handicapped should there be in public places, at an airport, for example?
My “solitary confinement” to the wheelchair day-in-day-out has taught me that the first step to assist people like me is changing the attitude towards us. From my conversations with other physically handicapped people, one major issue that has been brought up is they way others look at you, talk to you, and treat you. Sometimes people’s faces “freeze” as they see me fidgeting with the wheel that would not function properly, or with the bar that has broken loose or other things. Nobody would help, not in my country. People just do not know how to treat you and so they prefer not to help at all. The attitude needs to be changed first and foremost so the disabled not treated as though they were veal, or looked down upon as if they are half-humans.
The second advice I would have is to assign a group of people at the airport to work as the support team. I understand that each airline would have a staff person for this position, but how can one get around the building if there is no assistant?
I suggest there should be a phone for the disabled to call on help. The assistant then may use a walkie talk radio to respond and to call on for more help if needed. Depending on the size of the airport, the assistant (or a group of assistant) to the disabled will help us feel at home.
Lastly, there definitely should be lifts, automatic doors and bathrooms for the people with disabilities. While in some countries they are a given, mine is completely oblivious to these issues. The rich communist past which we are still trying to overcome has led so many to believe that not only do we not have sex, but that the disabled do not exist. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to deal with it.