I often listen to the, “In Touch” programme on Radio 4 for listeners with impaired vision. They often talk on there about access for those with disabilities and that led me to think, “Why don’t I see people with disabilities coming to the clinic where I work?”
To date, I have seen one client with a disability. She had a rollator walker which she needed to walk following a spinal stroke and was unable to manage stairs. Statistically, I should have seen at least one person who fits the official category of visual impairment by now but have not done so or indeed seen any coming in to see other practitioners where I work.
It would be nice to think that all those who would like to receive massage, aromatherapy or indeed some of the other therapies offered at the clinic where I rent a room are catered for by therapists who do out calls.
Sadly, I don’t believe it. For a start, not everyone has a suitable space for a practitioner to work in at their home. Many others are probably not aware of what can be offered them.
The problem does not have one simple answer. Most practitioners work in rented rooms, often up one or more flights of stairs. This was the case for me until I moved from above the whole food shop where I used to work. Now at least I have access to two downstairs rooms, one of which can accommodate a wheelchair. The premises however do not have wheelchair accessible toilet facilities and I do not see the council who own the building adding these any time soon.
Another issue is advertising. All my advertising is visual either on the internet or on paper. This will stop some people being able to access it easily. (I know there are programs that will allow visually impaired people to access the written word on my site but don’t know how good they are or anything about how well my own site works with them.)
I am wondering about whether to put some audio recordings of myself talking about my practice onto the site which may help.
I will also suggest to the owner of the business that perhaps the clinic site could have something on it about wheelchair access.
Some of those with disabilities could be helped enormously by massage and aromatherapy. Those using my services vary from those with some physical problems, those needing help in dealing with stress to some who just see it as a nice thing to do. It feels very wrong that one of the groups that could benefit most are somehow excluded from that help.
The other side to this is of course that as therapists, we are missing out on a potential market and if I can communicate that to my peers and the owner of the business, that might make more difference than talking about exclusion!