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France's disabled facilities "poor"

Connexion reader Wilf Wood explains how France must act over poor disabled facilities.

I would like to raise the question of handicapped persons in France, the lack of facilities and the attitude towards them.

I became a wheelchair user four-and-a-half years ago following a failed back surgery syndrome operation in Toulouse.
I won’t dwell on the aspects of the case, but more draw readers’ attention to the severe lack of facilities and the untoward attitude of the French public at large concerning wheelchair users. While making this observation, I do so by comparing with other parts of Europe and North America where the attitude is much more liberal and accommodating. For example:

- Lack of ramps from road to pavement.
- Blocking ramps with advertising hoardings without any thought for a chair getting past.
- Extremely bad positioning of ‘Blue Card’ parking outside shops and public buildings – sometimes well away from ordinary parking spaces.
- Ordinary drivers taking up reserved ‘Blue Card’ parking spaces and their arrogant attitude if confronted about this.
- Deliberate confrontation by pedestrians both on pavements and in the aisles of shops to wheelchairs, almost challenging them to move.
- Supermarkets (and some of these are among the worst) blocking aisles with trolleys and other boxes/cartons so as to make passageway almost impossible.
This is almost invariably followed by extravagant gestures of apology, sweeping of arms, all of which seem to be devised to intimidate the user.

This is not me asking for sympathy – I have heard the same from others – just an acceptance that there are others who want to use the carriageway as well and downright arrogance is not the order of the day.

Overall, the lack of facilities afforded to the handicapped and wheelchair users is startling. I strongly suggest that people in a position to do something about it compare facilities in other countries first and then get their act in order.

Wilf Wood, Béraut

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