#Snowmaggedon gave us a lot to talk about – but what’s been ignored is how it has impacted disabled people.
The world may have watched in wonder and amusement, about how the UK is ground to a halt every time there’s a bit of snowfall, but the impact is very real for disabled people – and often overlooked.
Managing life day to day can be a silent and ignored experience for disabled people. Able-bodied people often don’t realise the subtle differences disabled people may experience in the world, particularly when it comes to issues of accessibility. However, the snow can present very real problems. Stand Up Magazine spoke with several disabled people about just how the snow disrupted their daily lives.
“Fear of going out and slipping on ice is ramping my anxiety up no end,” One respondent, Cat, said.
“Fear of going out and slipping on ice is ramping my anxiety up no end,”
The slippery conditions are often a factor for many disabled people. For those who have mobility issues (particularly if they are wheelchair users and/or rely on walking aids) and/or visual impairments, navigating the paths and roads can be incredibly tricky. Another person said it impacts exactly how they travelled.
“Anxiety over walking on icy pavements trumps trying to drive,” A said. “Trying to work out the best time to leave time to miss driving in the dark/before the gritters etc.”
Some disabled people can end up trapped at home, unable to leave the house. This can be particularly problematic for those who may have employment that is fixed in its hours. Many employers won’t allow people to leave early, and many disabled people might not have felt comfortable to have revealed their disability status to their employers. For others, there is simply no other choice but to work longer hours. Alianora found this the biggest factor with the snow.
“I’ve been affected by having to work a much longer shift than usual because I don’t (and can’t) drive/get a bus/train home,” Alianora said.
People are often expected to work longer (and usually without pay reflective of their hours). This is annoying at the best of times, but for disabled people it can be downright exhausting. It can exacerbate certain conditions, leave less time on an evening to engage in critical self-care tasks and can lead to exhaustion.
The impact of the weather may seem stressful for many people, but this often comes from a perspective of being able-bodied. For disabled people, it can lead to a whole new minefield to navigate. It can also ripple. It may not be contained to solely impacting physical health but also increase anxiety, stress and/or depression. To create a more accessible world, we need to keep highlighting the daily challenges many disabled people can face.
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