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Byte Size interview No 12: Anne Begg MP

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 29 Oct 07, 09:04 PM

Anne Begg has been the Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South since 1997, becoming the first full-time wheelchair user to be elected to the House of Commons. She was born with the genetic condition Gauchers Disease. In addition to her duties in the House, including working as the Chair of the All Party Group on Equalities, she is also Patron of the National Federation of Shopmobility, the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Society and President of the Blue Badge Network. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, the cinema and the theatre.

Q: What are your favourite websites?

I’ve recently discovered the joys of shopping online. Getting heavy loads of groceries from the supermarkets has been brilliant. I sometimes look up specific news stories on the BBC, but I actually prefer to read a newspaper.

Q: What are your least favourite websites?

Holiday comparison websites. I often find they can be a bit misleading about disabled access. Sometimes the websites say the hotel is wheelchair friendly, and then when you actually phone the hotel, you find out that, for example, there are steps up to the lift or something.

Q: What was the last thing you bought online?

I recently bought a table and chairs online.

Q: What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done online recently?

I booked tickets with Eurostar. They’ve got some great deals at the moment for disabled passengers and their travelling companions.

Q: If the web were taken away from me today…

I would get a lot more done! It isn’t that the web is a problem, but email is the bane of my life. It takes ages to go through them all, and because it is an instant medium, everyone expects an instant response. I much prefer face-to-face communication and still try to send letters rather than email to my constituents.

Q: Do you read any blogs?

I tend to avoid them mainly because the comments so often descend into offensive arguments. I only have so much time, and I would rather read the newspapers.

Q: Do you have a favourite gadget?

I have all the usual gadgets, like a mobile phone and so on, but my favourite thing is my wheelchair carrier for the car, which automatically folds away my wheelchair for me. It makes me independent.

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