In the last post I spoke about the issue I was facing with regards the choice between diabetes or chronic pain. It lead me to come up with a solution to the problem as I felt that even when you are motivated to change things the barriers in your way can be the reasons you don’t succeed. We all face barriers but when those barriers are something that you cannot do anything about it leads to frustration, they aren't excuses they are genuinely something that prevents you from doing what needs to be done. For myself as a wheelchair user there was no way I could go out and fix every issue that was preventing me from managing in the built environment. Every journey became an obstacle course that requires the utmost planning to be able to manage. Things that would be a minor inconvenience to most became an absolute danger to me.
When it rains most people look outside and think I need to wear my coat or bring an umbrella or in the instance of exercise wear some waterproofs. When it rains, when it even drizzles a wheelchair becomes a device that is very difficult to control. The push rims become wet and slippery, your hands get soaked and so control of the chair becomes very dangerous. When you know this is the case you begin to plan your journey to take into account any uphill that you might not be able to push the chair up but also any downhill’s you may not be able to control the chair going down. Add to this kerbs that are too high, rough footpaths, debris etc. and the risk factor of doing the exercise I needed to do was becoming even more of a monster. These issues are the ones I faced and I'm sure speaking to anyone with a disability will tell you of many more but the fact was that I had to go and do the exercise to help manage the diabetes. I began to think, if I'm motivated and I find it difficult what’s it like for people who struggle to be motivated, what about people who feel that its too dangerous or cannot deal with the pain. There had to be a solution.
I began using an app on my phone called mytracks. It’s a pretty basic app that Google made for recording your tracks. What I noticed was the increases and decreases in speed based on obstacles I faced. The same routes taken by someone able bodied did not show any signs of difference in speed as the obstacles were not relevant or simply didn't exist for them. Being able to see where a wheelchair user could go I though would be incredibly useful for other wheelchair users so I began to map more of my tracks. Very quickly it became apparent that I used certain routes entirely based on knowing that I could manage. It revealed massive black spots of where I could not go. It showed how inaccessible where I lived was. The benefit would be that others with mobility difficulties would know where they could or couldn't go based on these maps which was great but it still didn't fix the bigger problem of access and safety where they couldn't go.