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Thread: Families & Social Exclusion

  1. #1
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    Families & Social Exclusion

    Hi, a newbie here to this forum. I'm a wheelchair user with O.I. Type III. I just wondered if any of you guys have had any experiences of being excluded by family members from social functions and events? This has happened to me sporadically throughout my life but I was recently galled at viewing photos on Facebook from a family gathering that I knew nothing about and hadn't been invited to. I know the reason was because the venue was inaccessible but that's no excuse in this day and age to have a family party and not ask ALL members to come. Everyone else was there except me and my Mum. Why would they use such a venue in this day and age that actively promotes exclusion? I really feel angry about this and I'm wondering what to do about it. It's my 40th in 2 years so I feel like I should fight fire with fire and not ask them to my event. How would anyone on here move forward from this?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Well sometimes people just don't think about these things when planning something, especially if you're not a very close contact/relative, who would be uppermost in their mind. Still it doesn't explain why neither you or your Mum were missed off the invite list. Maybe your Mum can have a word with the family member and let them know your feelings were hurt and just an invite would have prevented it.

    But to be honest I wouldn't expect anyone arranging a venue to choose it with me in mind if I was in a wheelchair unless it was my child or maybe close sibling or very close friend. I'd want them to pick a location they'd be most happy with as it's their celebration. And I wouldn't let it stop me from inviting them to any function I was celebrating .

  3. #3
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    Wise man once say - fight fire with fire just burn your house down. You risk your event being just you and your mom. Do you really want that? No, invite those you love and care for and live life to the full.

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    To be honest I disagree completely with the responses given. Maybe I'm coming from a more militant Social Model perspective but the whole point of ending oppression against disabled people is by everyone taking collective responsibility. By having someone in the family who's disabled should without doubt be an important factor when choosing an appropriate venue to have a family gathering. Would you condone excluding a black member of the family if we lived under apartheid? I once had a non-disabled lecturer at University who refused to teach upstairs because it was inaccessible to disabled students. Issues like this shouldn't be shrugged off, that way is complying with your own discrimination.

  5. #5
    Senior Member flowerangelx's Avatar
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    My uncle knew I have a serious knee injury - he went to all the effort to ask if I could walk up stairs, which, at the time, I couldn't.

    He went and booked his wedding reception up a flight of at least 50 stairs, with no places for a rest...I had to take so many painkillers and it took me an hour - everyone got really arsey with me. Never have a felt so excluded from a family event. Not only that - they knew I'm lactose intolerant yet there was nothing on the menu that I could.eat bar a bowl of.strawberries on their own!

    I have also been excluded from my friends group as I am limited to where I can go/what I can do.

    Sucks, to be honest.

  6. #6
    Senior Member catlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowerangelx View Post
    I have also been excluded from my friends group as I am limited to where I can go/what I can do.
    Maybe they're not your friends after all.

    Problem is we can't apply the disability discrimination act to family and friends. Maybe there is more going on than accessibility issues. Maybe they just aren't as keen on our company as we thought they were. I guess it depends how close you are to family. When it comes to things like wedding venues I would expect friends and family to choose where they wanted to go and the extent to which they would consider accessibility for me would depend on how close we were and how much they wanted me at their event. If they want me there then I expect it to be accessible. If they choose to have their event somewhere that is not easy for me then I guess I would have to accept that they don't see me as a close friend or someone who they particularly want there.

    I have always found friends, family and work colleagues have gone out of their way to make sure that venues are accessible for me. but then I don't have a large family so there aren't distant(ish) relatives who may find it a pain to accommodate me.

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    In my experience, people pick inaccessible venues for a variety of reasons, cost being the main. Consideration as to whether any disabled people could get in is probably low down on the list of priorities. Usually from ignorance. Unless people have personal experience of accessibility problems, I think they really struggle to 'get it'

  8. #8
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    Many wise points have been raised. The social model of disability reminds us that it is society / other people that are responsible for part of our disability. However, the social dynamics when access issues arise can be very tricky to resolve. Sometimes we have to remember that we live in an imperfect world, where there are not always simple solutions especially when it comes to buildings. Fortunately, things are getting better over time.


    I feel that the best answers involve a mixture of grace and straight talking.

    When people are trying their best to accommodate our needs in an imperfect world, we should recognise that and not take out our frustration on them. The last thing we want is to leave them feeling that they wished they'd never tried.

    It's particularly difficult with family. Sometimes people act with the best intention not wanting to upset us. If an accessible venue is difficult to arrange, I'd rather know what the situation is and make my own decision about whether I can manage or send my apologies. It may be that someone wouldn't invite me believing that it was less hurtful not to put me in the position of having to decline, but I find this very hurtful - surely I'm the best placed person to assess the situation and decide whether I can manage. It has the hallmarks of "does he take sugar" when I'm quite capable of speaking for myself.


    There are occasions when people do something blatantly stupid, such as (as happened to me last month) putting chairs in the aisle which hemmed me in completely and blocked my access to the toilet, it is not a matter for patient negotiation. I was much blunter than I wanted to be when I ordered everyone out of my way - it went something like "you're all in the aisle, so you can all get out of my way".

    Sadly, I had to push over the chair of one person who refused to move. I gave three warnings, the last of which told her explicitly that there wasn't enough room if she continued to sit there and that I would likely push the chair over when I tried to squeeze past. I pushed past slowly, scraping against the wall, and there was a sickening feeling in my stomach as she fell off the chair as it slowly fell over - I'm told that she did get up OK. So far as I could ascertain, it wasn't a case of her needing time to move - had she asked for time to move or indicated she couldn't hear me, I would have done my best to accommodate her. She just ignored me. All she had to do was hop her chair forward about 5cm and I'd have passed by behind.


    I can deal with other people's frailties but not blatant disregard of my right to free movement in the aisle. I was tired, in pain and I needed the loo, so was far from my best. Still, I'd already been far more considerate than they deserved by holding on through the entertainment.

    What was I supposed to do? Wet and mess myself so that others can continue sitting where they weren't supposed to be? The venue management backed me, especially when I reminded them of the trouble they'd be in had I sent pictures of the situation to their licensing authority. The chairs had blocked the route to one of the two emergency exits - no laughing matter in a venue with a licence capacity of over 2000 people.

    I explained to the management that hemming in a wheelchair user was akin to me bundling someone who can walk into the corner and holding them there with my body (or chair) so that they couldn't move. It's a very aggressive act to hem someone in, even if that aggression is unintentional. I don't suffer from claustrophobia or panic attacks, but I was on the verge of losing it.


    Sorry to go on. It still upsets me. I hate confrontation, also that what happened will have reinforced some people's stereotypes of disabled people as difficult. My uncle felt I'd been far too aggressive and confrontational, but my parents backed me up. It's so hard when others treat you as a "non person" because you have differing needs. I'm not an aggressive or confrontational person by nature, but we all have our limits of what we can tolerate.

    For anyone who is in to Myers-Briggs types, I'm an INFJ, though I'm very finely balanced between J and P. INFJs are pretty rare, especially in men. INFJ is the 'counsellor' type (sometimes also termed the 'confidant' type) and INFP is the 'healer'. I'm a strong believer in being an individual, and I am not always true to type - I have a scientific background, which means I can flip from F to T depending on circumstances. However, INFJ explains a lot about me. As is typical for this type, a lot of people think I'm extrovert, when I'm quite strongly introverted.


    Quote Originally Posted by catlover View Post
    disability discrimination act
    I wanted to remind people that we need to stop talking about the Disability Discrimination Acts, which were repealed in 2010. We should now be talking about the Equality Act 2010, though, as you rightly say, it doesn't say anything about family and friends.

  9. #9
    Senior Member beau's Avatar
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    I think some people are unable to understand the problems that disability brings until they are possibly unfortunate enough to experience it themselves.
    I had a neighbour of mine complain about the council putting in dropped kerbs for me. "A b****y waste of money" he said, "I had managed before", yes I had, by walking down the road with my frame until I came to a drive drop which was a very dangerous thing to do.
    My reply to him was that I hoped he never had need of them himself as we don't know what the future holds.
    Needless to say he stormed off.

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    Several years ago my OH and I decided to take his elderly granny with mobility problems out for the day. She was a game old lady and very little stopped her from going anywhere she wanted to go.

    Unfortunately we chose Stirling Castle to visit only to arrive and find cobbled roadways into the castle. I was mortified at our lack of forethought but old granny was still up for it. How we managed to get her down a cobbled slope without tipping her out her wheelchair God only knows. I apologised for our poor choice and lack of thought but Granny just laughed and we made up for our ignorance by taking her to the pub for a couple of hot toddies.

    Now not being able to walk more than 30 yards at a time without 5 min wait for blood supply to return I now consider things like distance a bit more, but still can underestimate problems I may encounter. Until you're familiar with the restrictions of disability you don't always think about the problems someone can consider and even if you do try , you still may only think of some of the more obvious things and still miss something.

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