It is people that normalise access needs in society and people that also stigmatise those who live with a disability in society.
Today I had a meeting about accessible digital health in Ellerslie and was getting a train from Grafton to Britomart and then on to Ellerslie. I entered the train with my guide dog and sat in a nearby seat.
These days I don’t use trains much as my part of the city does not have train services. Some time ago, I would make weekly trips to volunteer and teach and I did this for around three years. At that time, I was never approached by any AT staff.
Today a staff member approached and asked if I needed any assistance at all with my journey. I did ask her a couple of questions as I am not as familiar with trains as I am with buses.
What made my day is she didn’t make any assumptions about my needs. She sat opposite me and moved herself to be in my field of view without me mentioning it or even moving myself (my usual response).
I asked her a few questions about locations of carriages with wider seating as my guide dog doesn’t always tuck right under the seat. I appreciated her way of describing things. She started with a question that was framed non-judgemental positive – she just asked, “how much can you see?” so she could describe some things for me.
When I mentioned that it was a breath of fresh air to be asked, she was surprised the first time I had met or even heard of a train manager who assisted any passengers and explained this was part of her job.
I only wish I could recall her name as her badge was small. Excellent job, AT.