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E-mail to the Wheelchair Friendly Zone

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What is the Wheelchair Friendly Zone?

Most people live in an environment created for and by bi-pedal creatures who leap about from place to place, rarely thinking about others who are differently abled. This walker friendly environment, rich in facilities and stimulating experiences, creates significant problems for those with revolving legs.

For most of their lives, the bi-pedal creatures (whom I'll call bi-peds for short) wander around, oblivious to the amazingly complex skills they possess. They are blissfully unaware that, by the merest whim of fate these same abilities can be so easily removed.

The physical abilities and attributes of the bi-peds allow them to negotiate narrow passages, to scale step-filled buildings and to open doors with ease. They can grab goods from high shelves, drop in on friends without considering the obstacles. With little thought, they gallop over rough terrain never caring about invisibles like the gradient or camber of pathways. Similarly, holes or objects blocking passages offer no difficulty. They haven't always had it that easy, but they have short memories.

When bi-peds are born, simple tasks are beyond them. When they have accidents and break their bones, they become temporarily incapacitated and their eyes suddenly open. With age or chronic illness, they become permanently disabled and the, oh so friendly, world becomes problematic again. When they become parents and have to negotiate their neighbourhoods and familiar services encumbered by prams or become burdened by heavy shopping they begin to glimpse something of the difficulties that're the everyday experience of others who share their space. For their power years, however, they tend to be insensitive. The world they have created is their oyster... it is also their sandpit!

As the architects of the world, bi-peds, so able in other respects, become stripped of foresight, insight and are governed by a narrowly focused sensory impediment when confronted with something outside the norms of their experience. Confined in their can-do-now world they fail to anticipate the concerns of their excluded neighbours.

It was into this world that the idea of the Wheelchair Friendly Zone became a necessity and was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire in England.

Wheelchair users needed to find spaces which they could negotiate independently without fear of obstruction. They also needed to make their needs plain to building managers and service providers. At the same time, service providers wanted to tell non ambulant members of the community that in their stores, pubs and eating houses, they could be assured of good easy access. The "Zone" originally acted as a pressure group, campaigning where necessary and at all times offering advice on how to create and maintain accessible spaces. It also provided stick on window badges to mark those areas which satisfied the standard of enabling their users rather than compounding their disabilities. Examples of this symbol surround this page. No sad stick insect figure here, the wheelchair user is happy to be alive, empowered and in control.

After the campaign had been concluded the zone organisers had a batch of stickers remaining. These are available to be used by anyone who has a legitimate use for them to 'mark their territory'. If you are a wheelchair user and want a window sticker for a car, drop me an e-mail and I'll send you one in return for a small donation or self addressed and stamped envelope. The donations will be used to promote accessibility, support the offering of advice/information on disability issues and to replenish stocks of stickers. We can be reached through and can still provide useful information on topics such as ramps etc..

As an active pressure group the Wheelchair Friendly Zone is dormant but its members are still around and committed to disability empowerment and lobbying for the rights which are taken for granted in other parts of the world! If you support these objectives, get in touch...

In conclusion, can I urge he to consider the message at the top of this page:- making a difference begins with people taking action. Your ideas will only become real if you start the ball rolling...

Stefan Lewis-Fish
(Wheelchair Friendly Zone)

E-mail to the Wheelchair Friendly Zone

E-mail to the Wheelchair Friendly Zone

E-mail to the Wheelchair Friendly Zone

Try to be complacent & disabled please

time to turn political anger to action!

just a short leap to a slippery slope...

 jump to 'Finding the universe in a matchbox'  an autobiographical poem from Stefan Lewis-Fish

Go to the Disability Network

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