For the wheelchair expedition, a journey was devised around the university campus, so we could compare the journey time when using a wheelchair and without. The journey started at the Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Science building. We decided to visit the Barber Institute of Fine Arts museum, then continue our route to the cafeteria in the University Centre to purchase lunch. As we were taking the wheelchair out of the building we noticed there were automatic doors for disabled access, therefore the wheelchair user found it easy to propel themselves out of the building.
As an able body, I would normally take the steps when walking towards the university centre, however, with the wheelchair, we had to walk round the steps and up the slope. The road was very steep so the wheelchair user found it difficult to propel the chair without assistance. Another problem that was encountered was that there was no ramp on the pavement for the wheelchair to move onto. Moreover when trying to use the tipping lever to lift the chair the pavement height was too high to overcome, so as a result, the wheelchair had to be pushed on the edge of the road.
When making our way down the road towards university centre a lot of strength was required by the attendant to control the wheelchair so it did not cause harm to the public or model. On our route towards the museum, we came across some unstable concrete that had been tiled. Since we are used to adapting and walking over whatever paving we encounter, we had forgotten to pre-plan and go around. As a result, when we took the wheelchair over the tiled flooring, the wheel got stuck in a ditch. Hence, we were faced with another problem of having to use the tipping wheel to free the chair from the snag.
Next, we went to the main entrance of the museum and found that there were only stairs and no ramp access for wheelchair users. We just about noticed a small sign on the side of the wall indicating wheelchair access, so we followed the signs around the corner. We noted that it would have taken us ten minutes to gain entry into the building, however since we had the wheelchair, it had taken us seventeen minutes to locate the appropriate entrance. On arrival, we had to use the intercom to contact reception to ask for permission to use the wheelchair entrance.
We then had to wait a further seven minutes for a security guard to open the gate. At this time it was also raining so making it a difficult and uncomfortable wait in order to enter the building. In the building the wheelchair had to be propelled in order to overcome the numerous corners. It was also difficult to get the wheelchair into the small elevator. After visiting the museum, the expedition continued to the cafeteria. During this route, we noticed that the public seemed curious of the person using the wheelchair.
It was deduced that this may have been because the model did not show any signs of lost lower limb function. This led us to believe that the population have their own schema when using a wheelchair. It was assumed that the public typically expect certain groups of people to be in wheelchairs, such as the elderly, people who have an injury or have noticeably lost function in the lower limb. In the cafeteria at the university centre, we encountered further difficulties in trying to purchase food from the counter.
The lack of space in the queue for the wheelchair was a main difficulty, however, it was also difficult for the model to self-propel the chair, as the eating area was heavily populated by students. It was also difficult for the attendant pushing the chair to ensure that they were propelling it safely and not getting in the way of other students. This proved quite challenging as a wheelchair user because it would be easier to doge and move the body yourself to get out of the way of others as an able-body, however moving a wheelchair as well as the person sitting is more difficult.
From the expedition, I reflected that the time taken to make the journey was significantly greater (ninety minutes longer) than if I were walking. This has enabled me to experience some of the difficulties wheelchair users often encounter in their daily living. I have also noticed that there is a lot of planning required as opposed to a mobile individual, who would typically be able to make a simple journey with minimal effort.