Call to spend just a day in Sean’s wheelchair

by Emma Nolan
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A DALKEY man is on a mission to improve public transport services for wheelchair users by encouraging non-wheelchair users to spend a day in one.
Sean O’Kelly has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and is a full-time wheelchair user who relies on public transport – the Dart, in particular – quite a lot.
As part of Irish Rail’s accessibility policy, people with disabilities/in a wheelchair are required to phone their local station and inform them of their travel plans, so that assistance can be provided.
Sean said: “On March 11, I was going from Dalkey to Clontarf for driving lessons, so I rang ahead to make sure that there would be someone to assist at both stations.”
He said that the journey was fine, but when he got to Clontarf there was nobody there.
“The driver helped me off the train; that was okay – it’s happened before, but when I approached the lift it wasn’t working.”
This meant that Sean was effectively stranded on the platform and unable to exit, due to there being no other wheelchair-accessible ways off the platform.
The subsequent delays resulted in him missing half of his driving lesson.
Sean said that he has had enough of having to ring ahead in order to use a service that should be accessible for all users.
“Last year, we had our Marriage Equality referendum – where is our equality?” he asked on behalf of wheelchair users.
Sean is organising a campaign called A Day In My Wheels where politicians and the public spend a work day in a wheelchair.
“We’re asking people to go to work in a wheelchair to experience what life is like in a wheelchair.”
A date is yet to be set for the campaign, but Sean said it’s looking like it will happen in September or October.
To follow his progress, see Sean’s Facebook and Twitter pages, A Day in my Wheels.

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