Disability *and* Sustainability, not or
I’m doing a piece of work for a disability charity and it’s really making me think. During a general discussion, my contact pointed out that when cafés and pubs piously announced they weren’t stocking plastic straws, they forgot that, for many people with disabilities. a straw is the only way they can actually drink. Of course there are solutions (including the customer bringing their own straw), but nobody thought about it at the time.
Another looming problem is EV charging. In residential areas without off street parking, we are increasingly seeing charging cables trailing across pavements, sometimes with trip covers which render the pavement impassible for wheelchair users. As charging infrastructure isn’t keeping pace with EV sales, there is likely to be a difficult transition, not insoluble, but relevant authorities need to get a wiggle on to minimise its impact.
On the other hand, it pains me when the needs of people with disabilities are used as an excuse to do nothing on Sustainability. “Not everybody can cycle!” is a refrain often aimed at those promoting active travel. This is both true and beside the point. Shifting able people from cars to bikes frees up space on the roads and in carparks for those who really need to drive. I had an row online (never!) when proposing bike hooks on urban trains as an easy way to integrate transport. I was told that that not everybody can lift a bike six inches in the air onto a hook. Again this is true, but most people can, and provision can be made for the minority who can’t.
With all these things, the problem usually arises from people taking a narrow ‘or’ perspective rather than a truly inclusive ‘and’. As business coach Marie Forleo says “everything is figurable outable.”