The worldwide campaign “MapMyDay” brought many individuals and groups out to map the accessibility of places in their cities and towns. As part of the campaign MyAccessible.EU partner Mapping for Change joined forces with Health and Social Care students from London South Bank University to discover accessibility in London’s district Waterloo.
The day began with a series of insightful talks from wheelchair users. The speakers gave their perspectives on daily issues with accessibility – from people misusing accessible toilets, to problems boarding buses. Students were asked to reflect on what they had heard, whereupon many confessed to having used accessible toilets in the past! However, hearing about the daily experiences of wheelchair users gave students a real insight into how their behaviour can compound people’s problems with accessibility. Many students commented that the speakers had opened their eyes, and that hearing first hand accounts had given them a much clearer perspective.
After the talks and some mince pies and coffee it was time to go out and map. The participants headed out in teams of 8 to collect information on wheelchair accessibility in the area. Students took on various roles with some taking photographs of barriers, some speaking to restaurant and shop staff about accessibility, while others went inside venues to assess their levels of accessibility for wheelchairs. Some very positive discussions were had with restaurant staff – several of whom proudly pointed out their immaculate accessible bathrooms!
When the mappers arrived at Waterloo station, they were told about improvements taking place around the station to make it more accessible. Members of the station staff explained that the signage at the station had been identified as a problem, so new, enlarged and interactive signs are due to be installed around the station starting this month.
Listening to people speak about accessibility problems is one thing, but actually getting out and experiencing these problems first hand is another. Many students commented that the excursions had made them think about accessibility from a totally new perspective. And, the many new places that they marked during the day for the “MapMyDay” campaign will help scores of Wheelmap users in London.