Disability is everywhere: Hong Kong and other places
29th April 2010
Having a physical difference doesn't concern Hong Kong tailors, so long as you have some money. A word of warning, I chose some material for one suit based on the tan colour of the swatch. When made in to a suit however, it turned out to be almost white. So if anyone knows of a John Travolta or Miami Vice party coming up, I'm ready.
General access and disability thinking has increased hugely since my first visit to Hong Kong. The subway is better than London by far although you may need to ask for assistance. Dropped kerbs, tactile paving and reasonably accessible hotel rooms are fairly commonplace.
My persistence paid off and eventually it arrived and the group of six officials all thankfully disappeared except for the one who insisted on escorting me through the airport. This was to ensure I didn't run over any hapless travellers on my lethal 100 cm long, 4 miles per hour scooter.
Sometimes, disabled people don't venture too far due to a lack of knowledge of the surroundings; I might hesitate or refuse something because I think it might be too difficult just because I know no better. However, I've found a solution to this when in Hong Kong via a disabled travellers guide, written by a local called Sarah Fuller whose dad is a wheelchair user.
During the ascent, I discovered: a tea museum, an aviary, an art gallery, a wedding chapel and an Olympic Venue from the Beijing 2008 games; and at the top, fantastic views. Amazingly, close to the top I found a functioning accessible loo. So this disabled man can now go everywhere.
During one of my quiet nights in Hong Kong, I decided to visit to the cinema. The staff didn't bat an eyelid when I arrived on my scooter. The bow-tied ushers ran around the cinema to open the not very often used ramps and access routes. In the auditorium itself were three front row wheelchair spaces but I transferred to a seat. It was so easy.
I went to see How to Train Your Dragon in 3-D and think it's a delightful story well told. And whaddya know, disability appears in the film via losing a limb (or a tail if you are a dragon) and fantastically is simply explained as an unfortunate but natural part of life - especially if you fight dragons, I guess.
The Sydney Morning Herald points out that deafblind role model Helen Keller would have been automatically excluded, as would Stephen Hawking. It goes on to say Gordon Brown would be denied residency too being a visually impaired man ... so if it doesn't go too well for him on 6th May, retirement down under doesn't look like an option.
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