Mayor Humiliated Over Access Problems
June 9, 2004
LONDON, ENGLAND--Doreen Scott has been involved with disability organizations for several years in the London borough of Islington.
Scott, who uses a wheelchair, thought that running for mayor would help to raise awareness of disability issues in her community.
After serving one year as mayor, however, Scott said the experience brought her more "hurt and humiliation" than any other time in her life.
Scott told The Guardian that she was turned away from many functions in the capital because the events were held in places which were not accessible to her wheelchair.
"I'm sure a lot of organizations did not invite me as mayor because I was in a wheelchair and they just couldn't handle the fact," she said.
Other times she was invited, but was forced to use service elevators or other means to access the functions.
"My worst experience was the New Year's Day parade, where I was left virtually on my own for hours while they held a party for guests upstairs," she explained.
At the Queen's garden party, she had to be pulled onto the grounds backwards by attendants of Her Majesty's court.
"I also discovered during my visits that many disabled toilets were in an appalling state, often with no towels or toilet paper."
Scott said that the country has a long way to go before the needs of wheelchair users are met, even though the Disability Discrimination Act has been in place for almost 10 years.
One of Scott's former councilors is drawing up a disability-unfriendly "list of shame" which includes the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, where Scott could not have a decent view with other dignitaries because there was no access.