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Everyday life of people with mobility disabilities

Welcome to the second episode in the HALO series of conversations about accessibility.

How does one experience life from the perspective of a wheelchair?
Why interact with people with disabilities?
How does the Sensitive World Foundation support people with special needs?

Listen to a conversation with a mother and her daughter with physical disabilities, Dagmara and Octavia Grosch.

The talk was moderated by Karolina Jereczek and Wiktoria Biernat.
Technical support: Radio Gdańsk.

Text transcript of the podcast:

Karolina: Hello again to all listeners of the podcast series produced by the Sensitive World Foundation as part of the HALO Accessibility Leader project, subsidized by the City of Gdansk. This is Karolina...

Victoria: ...and Victoria.

Karolina: Our guests in today's conversation are Ms. Octavia, who uses a wheelchair every day, and Ms. Dagmara her mother. Warm welcome.

Dagmara: Good morning.

Octavia: Good morning.

Victoria: Do you face any obstacles on a daily basis that prevent or at least hinder you from using various types of facilities?

Octavia: Yes. Victoria: There are such places?

Octavia: Rather, I would already say that there are very few such places anymore.

Karolina: So there is a lot of facilitation?

Octavia: Yes.

Karolina: And do you feel comfortable?

Octavia: Yes.

Karolina: The topic of today's talk is architectural accessibility, that is, barriers to moving between different locations.

Victoria: We often find that even pregnant women or people with a broken limb already have difficulty moving. It is also easy to see the fact that the architecture has not fully thought through, for example, the height of the countertops in the reception area, or the bathrooms do not have a sink for children, who are known to be lower and cannot always reach.

Karolina: How do you think architecture is well developed these days? But are there many things that can be blamed on architects?

Dagmara: Sometimes we encounter such a situation, that for a given project various facilities are made, elevators work, and then after some year or two we go to the same place and all of a sudden it turns out, for example, that such an elevator no longer or no longer exists. The problem is that the driveways are too long and sloping without good contouring, with a rest break for people moving independently. City streets have crooked sidewalks and no exits. Many things still need to be improved but progress is evident.

Victoria: Ms. Dagmaro, and how did Octavia fare when she was little?

Dagmara: As on today, she has always managed with the help of rehabilitation equipment, canes, balconies. It was difficult, she was learning everything. Sometimes when she got up no longer by the furniture. Outside the place of residence n o it in a wheelchair and, as a rule, people drove it.

Victoria: And you Octavia, how did you feel a few years ago, how do you feel now among people your age?

Octavia: I get along very well with them. As far as I can manage this is as far as I can go.

Karolina: We also know that you are a participant in the Sensitive World Foundation's classes. What do you do at the meetings?

Victoria: Do you cook or do you talk?

Octavia: We dance, we cook, we talk.

Victoria: And is there a group of people or just, say, two-three people or are there more of you?

Octavia: More is, the group is.

Victoria: And do you have cool friends and colleagues there?

Octavia: I have.

Victoria: Yes, and what are their names?

Octavia: Marius.

Victoria: Oo mate!

Octavia: Well, yes.

Victoria: Do you also have contact with the elderly?

Octavia: Yes, we have.

Victoria: Do you discuss any activities with them together?

Octavia: We talk, joint activities, a little bit of everything.

Karolina: What do you like most about such activities?

Octavia: I like this Shakespearean theater the most. There you had a conversation with these ladies and theater classes.

Karolina: So in short you can be called an actress.

Victoria: Well, that's some achievement and we envy a little. And how do you feel about having just performed in the theater? What do you remember most from performing there?

Octavia: What I remembered was that I had a lot of stress and it was a hard role to grasp.

Victoria: But you were able to do it! We saw, we really admire, how nicely it worked out for you and all your colleagues.

Karolina: And how did you feel about it, seeing your daughter happy on stage, showing together with her colleagues that all sorts of barriers can be broken down.

Dagmara: I was very proud of my daughter, I was happy, because such an undertaking for the first time in our life history. Whole World Sensitive, which participated in this theater project. I enjoyed it very much. Everyone's physical, mental barriers were really breaking down. They are just wonderful. A man so sane when he sees such theater made by them....

Octavia: It's just so proud, so surprised. At the very least, a healthy person thinks that a disabled person knows what is important to him.

Victoria: So that's no obstacle to achieving your dreams, no?

Octavia: Well, that's right.

Dagmara: Exactly.

Octavia: Very proud that it worked out for us and everything in general.

Victoria: Probably proud of you is also Mrs. Jola of all of you, who led you somewhere in that theater, eh?

Octavia: Not that she's proud just surprised with us, disabled, that everything worked out.

Victoria: The truth is that just because you are disabled to some degree doesn't mean that you are inferior-you are the same, and even sometimes I would say better, because you have new opportunities, more of these opportunities, and you surprise yourself all the time.

Victoria: Mom spends a lot of time with you, no?

Octavia: Yes. Victoria: How important is her support to you?

Octavia: Yes.

Karolina: He is by your side.

Dagmara: I am normally with her.

Victoria: You can see that there is still such a stereotype among people that just a person in a wheelchair or a person who has a broken leg can't go somewhere, can't do something. And what do you guys like to do in your free time together?

Octavia: We like to go on trips.

Karolina: Did you remember any trip in particular?

Octavia: Zakopane, Krakow, I go fishing, I go to Torun, I go on pilgrimages, I go to the foundation.

Karolina: Octavia, what should be changed to make life better for people who use wheelchairs?

Octavia: Very many things, so that there are elevators and not stairs.

Wiktoria: And Ms. Dagmaro, what do you think you need to pay attention to when furnishing a house or apartment so that just a person with a mobility disability can feel comfortable within its walls?

Dagmara: First of all, you need to pay attention to the doors, the lack of thresholds. We are fortunate that we live in a house and the entire first floor is adapted for Octavia. There we have a bathroom, a kitchen and a room, a living room, so everything is on the first floor. Exit from the house also thresholdless and bathroom, bathroom first of all such width, then you can turn around quietly.

Karolina: You can also read on the Internet that the width of the door is also sometimes inadequate for the width of the wheelchair resulting in a problem in the passage. How often do you encounter and encounter such a situation?

Dagmara: We practically no longer encounter a situation where there would be a door too narrow.

Victoria: Winter is approaching in small steps, did you encounter snow-covered driveways that just happened to be needed, but do people make sure that there is this possible passage?

Octavia: It's a little hard on the wheelchair when there's snow.

Dagmara: Winter is the worst time of our lives. A little snow and it already makes walking with a stroller impossible.

Victoria: People also just often forget what, that just such people also need free passage.

Octavia: Well, yes. Dagmara: This is a big problem as of today.

Victoria: We hope that people who are listening to this very thing will be given something by this talk of ours and will keep it in mind for next winter.

Octavia: Well I hope so.

Victoria: We're going to warn them to keep this in mind, because Octavia wants to come, yes?

Octavia: Yes.

Victoria: Okay, it's settled!

Victoria: The barriers are only in our heads really my dear listeners.

Octavia: There are barriers in the head.

Victoria: And you have to overcome them.... You were an actress, now you have a radio interview, well professionally, like some kind of star.

Octavia: Well, yes.

Victoria: That's how you feel a little bit too, huh?

Octavia: I feel a little bit.

Victoria: And what advice do you have for parents whose children have physical disabilities?

Dagmara: Maybe first of all, for parents to take care of themselves, their mental and physical development, to exercise, to attend various therapies, support groups. This will help them a lot. And maybe one more piece of advice, not to overfeed your children, because, however, we are getting older, and you have to help, pull the stroller, push it. So certainly physical health helps a lot with that.

Victoria: And what tips do you have for people who don't interact with wheelchair users in their daily lives. How should we behave?

Octavia: That if you don't deal with such a person, you shouldn't talk.

Victoria: That one should not speak badly, yes, is that what you mean?

Octavia: Yes.

Victoria: And, for example, when someone talks to you, do you prefer when they stand close to you, or do they move a little away so you can see?

Octavia: I prefer it to be a little further away.

Dagmara: I, for one, believe that every person should come into contact with people with disabilities.

Octavia: It's only when she comes into contact that she learns what it means to be such a disabled person, or with epilepsy. And if you don't know, you shouldn't speak up.

Victoria: People often look through the definition of what the word means, rather than the reality.

Octavia: This needs to be said clearly and explicitly at some point.

Victoria: And it's great that you are just speaking up here now. Our listeners on the radio hear you and know what you are saying. We will reach them.

Karolina: And how is our state oriented toward people with disabilities?

Dagmara: I have the impression that our state would like to overlook the fact that there are people in need of help, people with disabilities, living among us. Practically, if there is any foundation supporting the disabled it is created by the parents of these children themselves. Why couldn't it be so normal that such foundations are taken care of by our state. This is in short supply in our country. This should improve.

Karolina: We would like to thank you sincerely for the interview, thanks to which we, as well as our listeners, were able to learn a lot of interesting things about architectural accessibility and what everyday life is like for people with mobility disabilities. The script for the entire conversation was developed for you by Karolina and Victoria in cooperation with the Sensitive World Foundation. Thank you again. And our listeners are already cordially invited to listen to the next podcasts under the HALO project, which will be published soon. Thank you and see you in the next podcast. Hello!

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