Help break down access barriers by taking the MS pledge today

Accessibility is not a disabled person’s privilege; it’s a matter of equal rights.

Access can mean different things for different people and on World MS Day we hope to unite the world in the movement of recognizing that all of us have the right to use or benefit from the same things in life. It’s a simple list really and, at the end of the day, I believe increasing awareness is the way to start breaking down some barriers.

Sophie Paterson, who is running some things over at the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF), posted key barriers that MSers encounter, from around the world. She highlighted that people living with Multiple Sclerosis should have access to the following:

Facilities, treatment, medicine, social life, family life, jobs, relationships, public transport, children, work, understanding, buildings, information, specialist doctors, getting around, education…

It all seems so simple, right? Yet, in some countries the closest MRI machine is a 10-hour drive away. In some countries there are no ramps on buses for wheelchairs, in some countries there is no lift to take, only a steep set of stairs. I’ve seen limitations here in the USA, too. I remember this one time we parked our car in a huge, multi floored airport parking lot and the lift was out-of-order. The nearest working one was ½ football field away. I was extremely fatigued and dreaded the walk I knew I had to take. The worst part? When we returned to pick up our car two weeks later, the lift was not repaired!

So, why is this? Why do we face these limitations and barriers? Certainly money could be an issue. Or legislation. Awareness is also playing a pretty big part. MS is an invisible disease and it is often that strangers, friends, family and companies running airport parking lots do not see our symptoms: pain, fatigue, numbness, cognition issues, bladder dysfunction, tingling… Thus, access does not come to mind, as most people simply cannot see MS.

What can we do about this? Let’s talk more about life with Multiple Sclerosis. Let’s talk to people we know or engage with people standing next to us in line at Starbucks. Then, let’s invite these same people to talk to two others about MS who will then to talk to two others about MS and so on and so on (whew!).

Let’s pledge to talk about MS and spread awareness. Here’s how it might work:

  • Begin the conversation with something simple like, “What do you know about Multiple Sclerosis?”
  • Listen and then describe your life with MS. Describe the symptoms, the barriers and emotions that you or others have experienced.
  • Then, ask the question, “How do you now view MS differently?”
  • Finally, invite them to talk with two more people, in this same Q&A fashion.

I vow to take the pledge this weekend, as we have friends coming over to dinner, and start the conversation with, “what do you guys know about Multiple Sclerosis?” I will report back on our conversation, right here on www.multiplesclerosis.net.

So, take the pledge today, on World MS Day, as we continue the MS dialogue.

I, _____________, pledge to invite strangers, friends and family to talk about life with Multiple Sclerosis and then ask them to talk to two more who will then talk to two more, and so on, and so on.

Soon enough, more will become aware of MS and the barriers we face will begin to lift. Those walls will crumble and, maybe one day, the things in our way will disappear altogether so we can all live in a world where everyone has equal access.1

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
1. "Why Access" by Sophie Paterson, February 19, 2014, www.worldmsday.org

Comments

View Comments (4)
  • Melissa V
    5 years ago

    I’m very vocal about accessibility. When a new business opens I go to check out their businesses accebiliy around the entrances, isles, restroom and employees helpfulness. Then I ask to see the manager manager to report my findings then suggest ways of improvement. I also praise areas that are free of barriers.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    @Melissa – thanks so much for stopping by to share your experiences in breaking down barriers. I love that you are so involved at the local level – that’s awesome!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    5 years ago

    I’m with you Christie – speaking up is preferable to being quiet. School House Rock had it right – knowledge is power! Look out world, Christie and I and countless others are spreading the word on MS.

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    I’m vocal on this side on the fence yet quiet on the work side. Just had a chat with my friends over dinner and will share my experience soon! Agent C.

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