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Disability / reasonable adjustments, etc.


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From what I've seen, the UK side of Geocaching - gc.com, geocache uk, etc., are becoming much more aware that there are many people with disabilities involved in the 'sport' - for instance, when I have placed 1 star terrain caches recently, I have routinely had an email asking if it is wheelchair accessible. Whilst I don't think it's practical to make all caches accessible, I do think that we should be inclusive where we can (does that make sense? I've only just woken up, I can't think in sentences yet! :unsure: ).

 

I am planning to place a new cache this weekend, which will be terrain 3.5 or 4, and would definitely not be suitable for people with mobility difficulties. It is a puzzle cache, and I had the idea that I could put a note on the page to say that if anyone with a disability could not physically find the cache, if they could solve the puzzle and email me the location, they would be welcome to log it as a 'find'.

 

Before I do this though, I have three major concerns:

 

1. Would this be making things worse - would it be seen as patronising, and singling out people with disabilities? Would it be best to just state that the cache is not wheelchair accessible and leave it at that?

 

2. Are the people who have to walk to find the cache going to be mad because they feel they have to put more effort in, or something? Will they abuse the 'loophole' above - obviously this could only be done on trust?

 

3. Am I thinking about this too much? Should I just go ahead and place the cache and shut up about it?

 

There we are - let's see how many people I've managed to offend already... :blink:

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I have a whole slew of disabilities. I'm overweight, I'm very bad with heights, my left knee doesn't have the springiness it used to have (and occasionally lets me down). The "bad with heights" one was a real problem for me on "Span span span span", but I decided I could do it, and I did.

 

Disability isn't a on/off thing, it's a scale that goes from 0 to 100.

 

I think you should rate the difficulty of the cache, say whether it's wheelchair/buggy/ordinary walker/expert climber and leave it to each cacher to decide whether the cache is OK for them or not. Obviously, I'll make my own decision irrespective of what you rate it at, but if it's "expert climber" then I won't waste my time going to have a look at what I know I can't do.

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My views are quite strong on this. We should not alter a cache to facilitate disabled access if it is to the detriment of the cache, but we should make it accessible as possible otherwise. I will not bring back my good old phrase "as long at the cache listing is accurate" and the seeking cacher knows what there getting them selves in to.

 

By accessible I don't just mean wheelchair accessible. If you can place a cache 4ft up or 6ft up then 4ft is more accessible, but if it is a better hide at 6ft then place it at 6ft. Many people can't walk great distance, or just don't want to so place a cache near a parking place, unless the walk is part of the reason for the cache.

 

In summery my belief is that we should not reduce the quality of a cache to make it more accessible, but we should make the effort to make them more accessible otherwise.

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Commendable action to think of others less fortunate than yourself. I am disabled but it is not a physical disablement that would stop me from a 2, 3 or even 4 rated cache. And in my opinion, I dont think you should organise your cache to suit the disabled if it is a high rating. There are quite a few pitfalls in doing this, not least the 'loophole' which some unscrupulous cacher would usurp. There are plenty of wheelchair accessable caches out there, without making a high rated cache available through some re-setting of the puzzle or whatever. It is nice to know that you are thinking of doing this, but my advice is dont. Just my 2p worth

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I have had a couple of enquires from cachers as to whether some of my caches were suitable for wheelchair access.

 

I answered as fully as I could but not being a wheelchair user I'm prob not best qualified to judge.

 

I did however find this site http://www.handicaching.com/ which allows people to rate your cache for accessibility and lets you display the rating on your cache page.

 

As people have mentioned disability issues are different for different people so you can never have a definitive answer, but at least it lets people more qualified than me to judge!

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The terrain rating is there to give a rough indication of what to expect [it can't be accurate due to it involving personal opinions] the base being 1* which should be wheelchair accessible. Hence Reviewers flagging this up if the Wheelchair Accessible Attribute is not used.

 

To give those with disability a more accurate picture of the terrain I'd suggest using the Handicaching site to rate your cache, and also to rate caches you have visited [you can do this from G:UK as well as Handicaching.com]

 

You'll find that cachers with disability's do not ask to be able to access every cache, but just for caches to be accurately rated for terrain so that they can make a informed judgement on whether to attempt it.

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There are plenty of wheelchair accessable caches out there, without making a high rated cache available through some re-setting of the puzzle or whatever. It is nice to know that you are thinking of doing this, but my advice is dont. Just my 2p worth

 

Ahem, clear throat, there are not that many wheelchair accessible caches out there! There are far more possibly accessible cache which don't have accurate attributes or any attributes at all!

 

Red Squadron, I think people fail to realise quite how many people with disabilities are involved with caching. Many, many people speak to me about when they take their other half, child or someone else with them who has a disability, just because they don't frequent the forums and fly the flag, do not assume they don't exist.

 

I can think of at least five people I have encountered in the past few weeks who cache under very difficult circumstances. Many people have invisible disabilites and don't always wish to declare themselves as such.

 

Ryme, I think the decision is up to you and will be based upon the nature of the puzzle and how inherent the location is to the solving of that puzzle. If there is no real connection, maybe then it could be two different caches.

 

Personally, I cannot imagine anyone making a find claim on a cache due to disability if they truly didn't have a disability that prevented them. This is a fun hobby, for many it is about personal achievement, which is not quite the same as people using an accessibe loo 'cos the queue is shorter or parking in an accessible bay 'cos they are in a hurry.

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On the issue of wheelchairs, one thing that always goes through my mind when deciding whether or not to select the icon is that there are various types of wheelchairs with obvious differences in capability. For instance Dorsetgal has a very impressive all terrain type wheelchair that I am sure will get to places that the bog standard NHS wheelchair will not. So my question is when deciding on selecting the icon do we go for the NHS wheelchair or a hi-tek one like Dorsetgal? Personally I have been going for the NHS option but it does concern me that I may be putting off cachers with hi-tek wheelchairs by not selecting it.

Edited by Phillimore Clan
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Yes, I agree, it is not a cut and dried thing. For example, I use a very different all terrain mobility buggy when in the immediate environment around my home (I would use it further afield if I had a car and trailer), but when travelling I use my wheelchair (which is a custom sports job) usually with my power trike attached to the front of it.

 

I am aware that many people are in a position to only have access to one mobility device and that will inevitably involve compromise with performance.

 

For me, the wheelchair attribute indicates that the cache setter considers a cacher using a wheelchair could pretty well get to the cache site and possibly do the grab. It certainly indicates that the setter has considered access to some degree.

 

I don't always do caches with the wheelchair attribute, I will often ask the setter for more details if the attribute or any other info is not on the page. On one of my own caches, I think it is just about wheelchair accessible with a different route, butthat would involve giving the game away to others, so I have stated to contact me for further details of wheelchair access if needed.

 

Another consideration is whteher the person is caching alone or not. I tend not to head into the countryside alone, but certaibnly with urban caching have no hesitation in setting off alone with GeoDog. That's the most frustrating part, a 1/1 rated urban cache that I cannot reach (especially as I am a pretty agile w/c user). On those occasions, I make sure I photograph the evidence and chat to the setter afterwards.

 

On the other hand, if I visit a cache and state that it is wheelchair accessible, as opposed to accessible by me, I mean that in my belief a number of wheelchair users could execute the cache alone.

 

Cahing is not an exact science, no two disabilites are the same, people are different, we can at best, give an appreciation of what it is thought to be ...

 

Sometimes in life we have to make and accept compromises ... I recently did a cache of Rymes' out in the Purbecks, I'd completed the route almost to the cache and got thwarted by a locked gate right at the end, my two companions went onwards, found the cache and returned it to me. I logged the cache and have no qualms in doing so ... maybe some will see that as wrong ... however, my name is in the logbook and the cache was in my hands, no different than many who cache as a family or group where one member goes ahead and does the grab in my opinion. I don't like doing things this way, but it was an acceptable compromise in that it was physically impossible to do anything else, and I think it would be a harsh judge who said the 1-2 mile round trip from the car park resulted in no find cos a of an NT locked gate just feet from the cache! Likewise, on the urban jobbies by usual caching companions get left standing when I swoop in and find even the most fiendish urban nanos from under their noses! In those circumstances, guile beats brawn!

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I'd completed the route almost to the cache and got thwarted by a locked gate right at the end, my two companions went onwards, found the cache and returned it to me. I logged the cache and have no qualms in doing so.

 

Have no problems with that being done!

 

The Handicaching site, as part of the D/T rating, does have the option to mark a cache "Help my be needed to retrieve" the cache.

 

This may be that the cache is too low or too high for a wheelchair user to retrieve, or even as Dorsetgal says, lack of access to reach the cache itself.

 

We make a concious effort to fill in the handicaching stats (via GeocacheUK site) as best we can, to try to make things a little easier for the users of that site.

 

G

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We felt that we should add our 3 pennyworth as one of us uses an electric wheelchair, however, Dorsetgal & Geodog seem to have sumarised what would be our opinions well - good on yer Wendy!

 

Incidently, I had a query a few days ago as to why one of our caches was Terrain rated 2.5 when they felt it to be a 1; a straightforward walk to the cache on impacted paths.

 

As I responded we use the Geocaching.com recommended Clayjar system to rate our caches. In this case Clayjar did a particularly good job - whilst to an able bodied cacher they might remember it as flat and easy to a wheelchair user it was over half a mile, had parts of the track missing and very bumpy and suffered changes of gradient. Remember, what can apparently look flat can be very bumpy and tiring to a someone in a wheelchair particularly if they cannot support their onw body weight. As a husband to a whelchair user and very 'access aware' even I sometimes do not notice single steps, potholed path, etc which can be a total no-go to a wheelchair. In this cache we rated it as Terrain 2.5 but aded the wheelchair accessible attribute and some text on the cache page as well as its Handicache rating - as Wendy suggested anyone concerned can always email us for further advice before going.

 

Team FMC

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Ooh, thank you for all the replies. Sorry I haven't been able to respond until now - I've been out shopping for my new cache (WH Smith - lock boxes, buy one get one half price if anyone's interested!)! :(

 

After reading through the comments above, I am still undecided on what to do. drsolly - I agree that disabilities are on a 'scale' rather than 'on' or 'off' and that mobility difficulties are not the only disability (I am seven stone overweight, therefore 'morbidly obese' - under some definitions I am disabled, but that's just a label isn't it?).

 

Nevertheless in some circumstances there has to be some kind of 'cut-off point'. I assess University students for the Disabled Students Allowance and in order to access the funding (which can be upwards of £10,000 per annum for study support), a student has to 'prove' to their local council that they are disabled. I'm not saying that this is right or ideal, but how else would the council be able to control funding?

 

Anyway - I think this is all a bit serious for Geocaching, which after all is supposed to be a game. I'm starting to stray off topic, so where was I...?

 

As I said in my first post, I think everyone should think about inclusion where possible. No, this should not restrict the placement of caches, the area that I want to place it has a stunning view and I want to share it with as many people as I can. But here I have an opportunity to make this cache accessible in one way or another to all. So - should I do it, or will it offend? It's hard to know, to be honest! Even though I have worked in the Disability field for years, what is 'right' and 'wrong' still feels like a minefield to me.

 

I'm not too worried about the 'loophole' business - if a non-wheelchair user wants to claim they can't physically access the cache, but wants to log it anyway, then that's on their conscience as far as I'm concerned. :lol::lol::laughing:

 

Edited to add: sorry, I also forgot to say, I certainly wouldn't want people to differentiate in their logs whether they had physically visited the cache or emailed me. It's up to the individual what they choose to write.

Edited by ryme-intrinseca
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As an aside could you not plan two caches? One that is wheelchair accesable and clearly state this in the description and another one that is however you want? Thus keeping a balance and making everyone happy!

 

This Winter I have conciously gone out of my way to make my cahes non muddy and bad weather friendly! I like to think I am adapting to the climate. Infact I have had several comments thanking me for making them good to do in the foul weather we have had.

 

Just a thought.

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As an aside could you not plan two caches? One that is wheelchair accesable and clearly state this in the description and another one that is however you want? Thus keeping a balance and making everyone happy!

 

 

Thanks for the suggestion - I have recently placed three caches that I think / hope are wheelchair accessible. I would like to make as many of my caches accessible as possible, which is why I considered this option. :lol:

 

I think in an ideal world, anyone would be able to look for any cache. And I would be a millionaire and married to Eddie Izzard (sorry to my hubbie Rob if you're reading this! :lol: ). Obviously, none of those things are going to happen, but I think it's about compromise. :laughing:

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I agree with everything that Dorsetgirl has said.

As someone who is heading towards the need for a wheelchair I am aware of the need for more accesible caches and I will hopefully be placing some of my own very soon. (I feel a nano coming on!!)

Good thing about being married to Eddie Izzard is cutting the clothes bill in half. Share, share and share again. :lol:

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<snip> I have recently placed three caches that I think / hope are wheelchair accessible. I would like to make as many of my caches accessible as possible, which is why I considered this option. :lol:

 

 

I certainly had no difficulty in completing your lovely camo nano series in Swanage recently. I personally managed all the grabs, and think they are suitable for most wheelchair users. I think even someone using a w/c with an upper limb disability could still get a lot of satisfaction out of locating these caches ... they are nice and sneaky.

 

I believe they are as accessible as any could possibly be, and I really enjoyed them, thanks for setting them. :laughing:

 

The fact that there are accessible public conveniences (bring your own RADAR key) and a couple of super fish n chip shops that literally have to be passed on the way adds to the attraction of the series :lol:

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BTW, as this was brought up as a question about reasonable adjustments, it is worth pointing out that a defence under the DDA for not making a reasonable adjustment when providing a service is an honestly held belief that "Making an adjustment would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, trade, profession or business."

 

What this means is that whilst one should consider how to make caches accessible to disabled people, that doesn't mean a cache that involves complex puzzles has to be adjusted for people with learning difficulties, or that caches that are meant to involve crossing difficult terrain should be made accessible to people with mobility problems.

 

Probably the best way of ensuring the duties under the act are met is to provide as far as possible a wide variety of caches that can be done by a large range of people whatever their disabilities. I seriously doubt any court would find that the duty was breached becasue a single cache, series or group of caches were inaccessible given the huge number of alternatives.

 

What might be considered a breach of duty would be a failure to provide appropriate information on accessibility etc so that things were not made impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to take advantage of cache listings in selecting appropriate caches.

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It all right, I didn't bring this up because I'm getting jumpy about the DDA, if I was, I think I would archive all my caches right now! :laughing: I should have worded the title differently. I want everyone to enjoy finding my caches, that's why I am wondering what is best to do here, and for future caches too. :lol:

Edited by ryme-intrinseca
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I have two caches I placed with the wheelchair/pushchair user in mind. However one now cannot be done without help as its moved due to the cover changing. I use the handicaching system which I hope helps people decide if to tackle or not. I will be placing more with wheelchair users in mind after meeting one such cacher last summer at an event :D

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My two puppence worth!

 

whilst to an able bodied cacher they might remember it as flat and easy to a wheelchair user it was over half a mile, had parts of the track missing and very bumpy and suffered changes of gradient. Remember, what can apparently look flat can be very bumpy and tiring to a someone in a wheelchair particularly if they cannot support their onw body weight. As a husband to a whelchair user and very 'access aware' even I sometimes do not notice single steps, potholed path, etc which can be a total no-go to a wheelchair.

 

I have also been an assistant to a larger person who uses a wheelchair... an incline that you wouldn't notice when walking along, can be very hard when assissting a (M)wheelchair user ! I also spotted a cache with a terrain rating of 1/2 wheelchair accessible BUT it had a small bridge over a culvert with a step up to it and down the other side and then there's the stiles/kissing gates! (the one at the end of Upton House caught us out one year!).

 

Back to the topic IMHO if a cache can be easily adjusted to be accessible from a wheelchair (manual) or wheelchair (all terrain) then so it should be! If you know of an alternative (slightly longer/shorter route!) than by crow make a note in the cache page to contact you!

 

All in all Bex's go with what is best for the cache....if you can modify it without losing the point of the cache do! If not leave it as it is and we'll have to buy Dorsetgal a junior hacksaw and some climbing gear! :laughing:

 

We also loved your Swanage Camo Nano cache Series and I will be taking my Students with LD's in the summer term.

 

Have fun gal, we certainly have doing your excellent caches

 

minxyy

 

ps love the idea of putting place name/location in brackets in the title of the cache certainly would make picking out two or three together easier!

Edited by minxyy
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Thanks everyone for your advice. Minxxy - I'm really glad you enjoyed our nanos. Regarding your last post though, I wasn't just thinking of Dorsetgal (sorry, Dorsetgal! :D ). I also know another two cachers who are in wheelchairs, so my instinct is that there are more people that find accesibility a problem than we realise.

 

Well, I've made the decision now. The cache has been published, and I've put a note on the page to say email me if you find the co-ords but can't locate the cache. So time will tell how many people I've offended. :)

 

:P:D:o:D:laughing: :laughing: :):huh:

 

PS. There's no reason for the above smileys (Apart from the one with the hearts - that's for Simply Paul :laughing: ), other than that I didn't know they existed until today, and I wanted to use them!

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