Recently I had to change some personal details with two government agencies. Thinking that I would be able to do this via the internet, I spent an hour or so signing up to a website and trying to work out how to update my information to no avail. After debating with myself as to which would be quicker, going and sitting in an office or being in a queue on the phone waiting to be severed, I decided to go into an office.
Upon entering the office, I was asked what I wanted help with and if I preferred to be served at a desk rather than a high counter. Obviously I confirmed that I wanted to be served by someone who I could communicate myself with. So I went to wait in the area which I was directed to and I was told that I would be called from the opposite side of the office because that was where the desks were.
After a relatively short wait, my name was called from a representative who was behind the high counter. I couldn’t even see this person let alone hear what they were saying. Although I had gathered everything that I needed to update my file and I had organised everything to get there myself, just like in ‘Wheelchair Access is Not Just Entering Buildings‘, my Support Worker had to communicate on my behalf right in front of me.
I could have easily kicked up a stink about this and demanded to be served somewhere where I could communicate for myself but I didn’t want to have to wait any longer than necessary so I just went on to the next agency. This time I decided to ring. I was greeted by an automated message instructing what information I needed on hand and which numbers to press to get to the correct area and person to talk to.
Hanging up in disbelief, that a message had to be left with quiet a lot of personal details for an unknown person to ring me back, got me thinking. There is a huge amount of conflicting messages sent to society by governments about how different classes of society ought to be treated, particularly those with disabilities. I could easily list pages and pages of Laws and Acts that should be abide by on a daily basis to make the community accessible to as many people as possible.
So why isn’t what is put on paper good enough to be put into practise especially by those who put in the time, money and research into writing and implementing these Laws and Acts. Why was I even asked if I wanted to be able to communicate with a representative myself? Why can’t we talk or leave a message with a person? Isn’t this the reason why we cannot communicate with each other anymore? If everything is automated, aren’t we disrespecting people, increasing unemployment and removing any incentive to become independent?