Stephen Cluskey is a young Irish entrepreneur on a mission to raise awareness in Irish society of what daily life is like for the 600,000 people with increased access needs across the country. On Friday night’s Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy spoke to Stephen, along with TV presenter Kathryn Thomas and former Irish soccer international Kevin Kilbane, about Challenge Access Week – a campaign with which TTM Healthcare is proud to be partnered.
A to B: Not So Easy
Kathryn and Kevin - each confined to a wheelchair - were tasked with getting from one location to another in Dublin City Centre on a typically busy afternoon. They had one hour to get from their point A to point B – for a fully mobile person, more than ample time.
Kathryn ran into a number of obstacles along her way:
Footpaths not properly adapted to allow a wheelchair to ramp up with ease
Large wheelie-bins belonging to local businesses blocking the footpaths
Cobbled streets with no smooth areas to accommodate wheelchairs
Meanwhile, Kevin was hindered by:
Difficulty getting on the LUAS easily
A broken elevator blocking his access to street level from the train
A Dublin bus with its on-boarding ramp not functioning
A Dublin bus which did not stop for him
A 30-minute wait for a wheelchair taxi
.@kdkilbane77 on trying to get to the Aviva -
broken lifts, faulty bus ramps and buses flying by him #latelate #challengeaccess pic.twitter.com/Fdo7y1XLgG
— RTE One (@RTEOne) April 7, 2017
Both found the experience frustrating and disheartening, concluding that even the simplest journey would require precision planning - anything spontaneous would prove very difficult.
One Simple Change
Stephen Cluskey himself is no stranger to the challenges of navigating a world not designed for wheelchairs. This was the impetus for founding his latest venture Mobility Mojo – an award-winning user-generated website in the same vein as TripAdvisor, but with a focus on access.
“As a wheelchair user myself, I know that people with higher access needs can be unwittingly isolated in society. Barriers in our physical environment can be more disabling than the disability itself but small changes have the power to make a world of difference to people dealing with mobility, visual, hearing and cognitive challenges. Imagine trying to meet friends for dinner but there isn’t enough spac.e between the tables for you to navigate your wheelchair around. Imagine trying to decide what you’ll order if you can’t see the menu. Things that many people take for granted as being simple can become major barriers for people with higher access needs, so small changes can make a huge difference.”
Everyone deserves to live the most independent life possible. By raising awareness and making simple but valuable changes in our local communities, we can contribute to a better, more inclusive society that benefits us all. Register your business as an accessible location at https://mobilitymojo.com/
How Can You Help?
Every individual can make a difference, no matter how small. How will you challenge access this week? Check out the Challenge Access website for lots of great ideas!
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Change the Conversation
Missed Stephen, Katherine and Kevin on Friday’s Late Late Show? Catch the segment on RTE Player until May 7th http://bit.ly/2nx1Uwx
Contribute your two cents at #challengeaccess on Twitter and Facebook
Make one simple change at ChallengeAccess.ie