The view from where I sit
Annoyed by the British taxi drivers who tried to overcharge her, Daniella Jade Lowe started a blog.
Cabby Corruption was the first entry in The View From Where I Sit — the title is a nod to the wheelchair a spinal-cord injury has kept her in for most of her life.
“When some taxi drivers see a person in a wheelchair they think they can get away with all sorts of things,” said the 28-year-old, who left Bermuda for England 11 years ago.
Then 17, she was without the support of her family for the first time.
“I knew I’d be homesick,” she said. “But I knew I had to do this if I wanted to achieve my dreams.”
Taxi drivers are among the challenges she has had to overcome. Now living in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, she recalled how a driver attempted to charge her £7 for a ride instead of the £2.50 listed on a taxi app she used.
When she pointed it out, the driver backed down and accepted the correct fare.
“It is illegal to overcharge,” she said.
She shared the experience on New Year’s Day, 2019, the day she started her blog.
“I wanted to write something that fit my interest in disability advocacy and awareness,” she said.
She also hoped it would raise her profile while she searched for a job in journalism.
She graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in history and politics in July 2017 after a long, hard scrabble through the British higher education system.
“My A-level course at Bradford College was more difficult than my degree programme,” she said.
“I definitely think I experienced some discrimination because I was in a wheelchair.”
She took several years off from her studies to deal with health issues. Today, she is still trying to break into journalism.
“I’ve had about five job interviews,” she said.
In 2012, she covered the London Paralympic Games and created a Facebook page, Paparazzi at the Paralympics, to feature her writing and photography.
In 2015, she spent a summer interning with the now defunct Today in Bermuda, covering the court beat.
Now, as she looks for more job experience, she is considering a career in accessibility consultancy — giving advice to people who want to make their properties or programmes accessible to people with mental or physical challenges.
“I have spoken to people in parliament and they said there aren’t many people in Bermuda who do this,” she said.
“Once I get some experience in England, I will continue it in Bermuda. I would love to come home and make a change on the island.”
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not seeing people in wheelchairs as potential customers, she said.
“They are also failing to factor in that not providing wheelchair accessibility is a form of bad customer service.”
At the moment, however, it is easier to live independently in Britain than in Bermuda. Her housing development was designed specifically for people in wheelchairs. People with disabilities in England have more legal rights when it comes to education and building accessibility.
“All employers and schools have to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities,” she said.
“There is an obvious difference when I come home to visit. In Bermuda, with every house we lived in, my parents had to ask permission to add extra precautionary measures.
“If we wanted to add two escape routes from the home instead of one, just for me, my parents would have to ask permission or do extra work on the building.”
So far her blog has received the most attention for her short story, Sammy Sets the Record Straight. The tale follows a five-year-old boy in a wheelchair who dreams of flying and other amazing things.
Sometimes bullied, his hope is that people see him first, not his wheelchair.
“I gave Sammy some of my experiences and then also made up some,” she said.
“For example, the sentence about being called ‘chocolate cripple’ is a personal experience I had in middle school. I didn’t like it. It didn’t make me feel bad about myself but it did emphasise my race and disability.”
• Follow Daniella Jade Lowe’s blog, The View From Where I Sit, on Instagram and Facebook and at bit.ly/3dMt88y ,/i>
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