6 ways the pandemic improved access for Scots with disabilities - comment

Sanjeev Mann breaks down six ways in which the pandemic improved disability access.

Sixe ways the pandemic improved access for disabled people in Scotland. Picture: Getty Images Pro/Canva Pro
Sixe ways the pandemic improved access for disabled people in Scotland. Picture: Getty Images Pro/Canva Pro

As rules start to relax and lives get closer to what they were before the pandemic, Sanjeev Mann looks back at how lockdown pushed down barriers and opened doors for many disabled people.

Access to Employment & Employer Awareness

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Since the first Lockdown back in April 2020 many of us have worked from home.

For thousands of disable people, working from home enables wider access to employment. Working in a safe, accessible environment without leaving the house is a big step.

It means less organising, less pressure, and more independence. As we return to workplaces, I hope employers allow those who want to continue remote working to do so, especially when there’s no reason to go to the workplace for every shift.

The pandemic has made employers more aware of staff and their conditions, making things easier for those who need extra support. Long may this continue.

Meetings & Appointments

As we’ve been restricted with travelling, it’s allowed all of us to access meetings and appointments through video calling software, making it easier for those who find it difficult to travel or for safety due to virus.

We need to accept that some still aren’t comfortable with meeting in person and that’s ok.

Wider Pavements

If you haven’t noticed, many of Scotland’s cities have increased walking space and widened pavements to allow people to keep distanced. This means more room for people to navigate streets, especially helpful for wheelchair users.

Busy streets is something that I and others with disabilities try to avoid, so this is a welcome addition.

Although it must be noted there has been controversy over some of these schemes. Edinburgh’s Spaces for People project, has been branded ‘deeply flawed’ and ‘highly questionable’ leading to frustrated locals starting a petition so the scheme doesn’t become permanent.

Social Events and Gigs

Social events and gigs have now become easier than ever to thanks to video calls.

All you need to do is jump on your computer and you’re there. It might take away some of the excitement of getting dressed up and going to parties but it’s more accessible and a great option for vulnerable people.

More Space in Public Spaces

Ever since the easing of lockdown public spaces have more room, which makes a huge difference to disabled people, especially wheelchair users, again making it easier to navigate venues.

Yet we cannot overlook it limits the amount of business for smaller establishments.

More Awareness about Different Disabilities because of Shielding

With around 3.3 per cent of Scotland’s population shielding, it raised awareness for many medical conditions that people weren’t previously aware of.

If it wasn’t for shielding, we wouldn’t know the medical conditions that are present in our communities, friend’s circles, and family members, which makes it easier to help support one another.

Sanjeev Mann is a journalist from Glasgow who has worked with Muscular Dystrophy charity Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance.