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The struggle for access – a qualitative document study of how people using wheeled mobility devices experience exclusion and discrimination

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journal contribution
posted on 05.08.2022, 17:20 authored by Cecilia Pettersson, Katarina Baudin, Per-Olof Hedvall

The overall aim of this study was to describe experiences of discrimination due to inaccessibility among people using mobility devices.

We conducted a thematic qualitative analysis of 88 complaints about wheeled mobility device use, inaccessibility, and discrimination submitted to the Swedish Equality Ombudsman (DO) during 2015 and 2016.

The analysis resulted in three themes: instigating change by invoking laws and regulations and highlighting lack of compliance; demanding to be recognised, understood, and listened to; and struggling for equal access and social participation. Regulations and treaties were invoked as the basis for complaints by people using mobility devices regarding their lack of access to physical environments and impediments to their enjoyment of their full right to participate in and contribute to society. The complaints described feelings of discrimination, the disadvantages and exclusion due to physical inaccessibility, and experiences of being prevented from living one’s life as others do.

Complaints filed by people using mobility devices showed that they were denied access to a wide range of contexts, including offices, theatres, restaurants, schools, and public transportation, though they desired to live an active and social life outside their homes. Filing a complaint was a way to take action, highlight present inaccessibility, and express a hope for change.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION

Difficulties experienced by people using wheeled mobility devices can reveal knowledge important for revising existing design and renovation standards for housing and public buildings.

Documenting facilitators and barriers in different environments is important for giving voice to the needs of wheeled mobility device users and revealing standards that need to be strongly enforced or revised.

People using wheeled mobility devices should be supported in finding solutions in inaccessible environments, both to fulfil their wishes and to enable their participation in society.

Difficulties experienced by people using wheeled mobility devices can reveal knowledge important for revising existing design and renovation standards for housing and public buildings.

Documenting facilitators and barriers in different environments is important for giving voice to the needs of wheeled mobility device users and revealing standards that need to be strongly enforced or revised.

People using wheeled mobility devices should be supported in finding solutions in inaccessible environments, both to fulfil their wishes and to enable their participation in society.

Funding

This work was funded by Norrbacka-Eugeniastiftelsen [854/16].

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