I’ve long thought of WheelchairTravel.org as a community – something more than a blog about my own travel experiences. A place where we can engage in discussions about issues where travel, accessibility, disability and life outside the home intersect. I try to stay plugged-in to these conversations on social media, by following readers like you. Your stories and adventures really inspire me, and offer so many different perspectives on living a life with disability.

Last week, I spotted an enlightening Instagram post by Cherry, a reader from Vancouver, Canada. Her selfie and the commentary alongside it highlighted some of the very real issues we face with travel, accessibility and participation in society. She granted me permission to share that post here, and I believe many of you will identify with the challenges she described.

Instagram photo by @cherryperson

Scrolling through my feeds I am inspired and filled with hope to see so many of you out there today and I want to thank ALL of you that were able to and chose to show up and march in solidarity with ALL intersections of humans. At the same time I was overwhelmed with anxiety and dread which confirmed my position that I was simply just not ABLE to march and so I wanted to also stand here, digitally in solidarity with all of those like me that deeply wished they could physically be a part of such an important moment in time but for whatever reason cannot. For me personally it was a mix of things: the cold and physical effort would likely make me so sick and exhausted I would take anything up to several months to recover (I know because it happens a lot). The photos people posted of public transit today: as a wheelchair user there’s just no way to get into buses and trains that crowded and it’s a literal FIGHT just to get there and demand the space we require to be present. It’s a fight even on regular days. There are some transit routes that are just completely not an option if you’re disabled. Once amongst the crowds it would also mean a constant fight and vigilance to watch everyone around me to make sure I don’t hurt them or accidentally roll over them or have them walk into me or fall on me because they didn’t see. It’s 100% my job to control crowds around me and it sometimes feels like impossible work. I also have to constantly watch the roads and pavements which are uneven and threaten to tip me out. Aside from this I also live with sensory processing disorders and the noise and crowds and smells can make me mentally very unwell. And I could go on, but I won’t. I’m sharing because if you don’t live with disability you may not fully understand ‘why’ when someone says they’re simply unable to be present physically. Of course this is just an echo of an imprint of why disability rights are so important. We are frequently unseen and unheard and I want to thank all of my friends and allies that were out there today living their disabled experience loud and proud. And all those allies that keep us in mind in their solidarity on human rights….

Many thanks to Cherry for allowing me to share her Instagram photo. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @cherryperson or on Twitter at @cherryrae.

Do you avoid large crowds due to accessibility or safety concerns?
How do you fight society’s tendency to ignore people with disabilities?
Let me know in the comments below – let’s start a discussion!

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