The social model of disability holds that a disability is located not in the individual, but created by the barriers in society that have the effect of excluding that individual from taking part, and it is the responsibility of society to minimise these barriers, dismantling them entirely where possible.
But it seems there are limits.
We live on a bus route, and I don't remember the last time I saw a bus on that route that was not wheelchair accessible. Sounds great, right? But what about when the one wheelchair space on that bus is already occupied by a wheelchair user? If you don't use a wheelchair, you're fine - there's what, fifty seats, something like that? Just because one is occupied, no matter, you sit on one of the other forty nine. But if you are (in effect) waiting for a bus with a single seat, and someone else is already sitting there, you're buggered. You can't get on that bus.
Should buses be required to be representational of the population? Proportional representation of wheelchair spaces, seats with plenty of leg room for people with other mobility issues and so on in relation to ordinary people who can just get on the bus and sit on a seat?
Bristol City Council subscribes to the social model, and regulates local transport, including buses. According to this model Smiler isn't disabled by his need for a wheelchair, but by the barriers created by society - in this case, the limited number of spaces on the bus for a wheelchair.
So does this mean Bristol City Council is disabling my son?
I don't have an answer, I don't have a wonderful solution, I'm just asking the question.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~