Having recently discussed the incredible work of people in my local community who have removed the barriers to fulfilment for disabled individuals, I thought I would venture a little further afield and talk about some more remarkable disabled people across the UK. These are the individuals who have gained recognition in the recently released Disability Power 100, an annual acknowledgement of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.
In this coveted list, we have comedians, disability advocates, festival organizers, university professors, politicians, science and engineering experts, sportspeople, media company founders, and podcast hosts. This is a phenomenal demonstration of the diverse talents that disabled people possess. Through their lived experiences, these individuals have helped organizations and institutions remove long-standing barriers.
Accessibility, the right to work, the cost of living, and fashion are four key areas that still present challenges for disabled people across the UK. In fact, I often walk past shops where I see someone struggling to wheel a wheelchair or push a baby in a stroller through the door. To me, the simple solution is to have electric-powered doors where someone can push a button to open the door. Many places do have this feature, but for those that don't, it potentially decreases their customer base due to the difficulty of even getting through the door. In the modern world, this should not be an issue.
One of the other areas of expertise of our influential top ten is changing the attitudes of organizations when it comes to the disabled consumer experience. I recently wrote a piece on consumer experiences where I highlighted the fact that disabled people are more likely to be out of pocket than their non-disabled counterparts. I am happy to report that one of the people in this list has created the Diversability discount card, which helps level the playing field and ensures that disabled people are not taken advantage of as customers.
Education is another area that people with disabilities have difficulty accessing. It doesn't seem so long since I experienced the ignorance of what I was struggling with, in a one-liner; 'There is no further support as we are a stepping stone to higher education,' that showed me right where the door was at that moment. But where one door closes, another one opens, and one of the people on the list has inspired people with disabilities, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to pursue higher education.
Disabled individuals are some of the most incredible people, setting the foundations for many of the world's incredible ideas. If individuals wish to go through education and study to the highest level, there should be nothing stopping them, and nobody should say to a disabled person at a younger age the words, 'We have no further support for you to stay and study here!' By improving provisions in every setting, there is no stopping disabled people from creating new ways to do things or shaping new policies for all of our futures. We need people to continually advocate, not slam the door shut in our faces!