Liz is a crip activist and actor, now trying to gain experience as a stand-up comedian. Originally from the North West, she recently moved to London, lured by the bright lights and the promise of fame and fortune. She's still waiting.
Geocaching the accessible way
21st March 2010
Since I'm not an air traffic controller, a soldier or a shoe shop assistant, not knowing my right from my left isn't a major problem. But as a disabled person who employs personal assistants (PA's) to do the things I cannot do for myself, this directional disability can at times be a little irritating. There's nothing worse than having an itch you can't scratch - except perhaps having an itch you can't even direct your
PA to scratch: "Left ... I mean right ... I mean left ... I mean... arrgghh!".
The time when I feel most disabled by this 'condition' has to be when I'm in the passenger seat of a car, trying to direct an assistant to get me from A to B. As a result of my left / right confusion, most journeys are like magical mystery tours - where I want to go and where we end up are rarely the same place.
One solution could be for me to allow my PA to take the initiative, chauffeur me to my destination as I sit back and relax. Whilst this option would no doubt reduce my high blood pressure and stop my hair from further greying, giving up control in this way would probably kill me. I am a control freak back seat driver; a map reading co-pilot who directs every turn of the wheel. Annoying? Yes, but when I get my lefts and rights all muddled up and end up in Macclesfield instead of Manchester, I prefer that the only person to blame is myself.
After an unfortunate incident with a friends sat nav where a 5 kilometre journey to a gig became a 25K drive to hell, I vowed I would never ever own one. When my partner threatened to buy me one for Christmas, I told her I'd wheel over it in 10 metres, 8 metres, 6 metres...
Recently, though, I had a more positive encounter with one of the maddening little gps gizmos when my cousin introduced me to something called geocaching. This is a modern day treasure hunt where people all over the world hide, and seek, a treasure, or cache, using all kinds of global positioning gadgets to locate them.
I found my first under a bench in a tiny magnetic canister which contained an even tinier log book. I signed my name and was hooked. I wanted more. My next cache was camouflaged under a bush by the pavement and the next was hidden under an electrical fuse box beside a building.
I loved it. I particularly loved that all the locations had been wheelie accessible and all the booty placed in positions that I could reach. Of course, this was no coincidence - my cousin had done some research and discovered that caches are rated for their accessibility. Accessible geocaching? Handicaching. There's websites, forums and groups all dedicated to it, would you believe.
If someone could find me a sat nav with a Stephen Hawking voice and a bias to the accessible ... I'd be able to avoid all the crucial hide and seek games for the rest of my life.
Live community panel
Listen to our regular razor sharp talk show online, or subscribe to it as a podcast. Spread the word: it's where disability and reality almost collide.