A paralysed woman from Rustington is urging shopkeepers in the area to improve wheelchair access for disabled people during the Christmas rush.
Bernadette Kelly, of Arun Close, feels more needs to be done by some retailers across Littlehampton and Rustington to assist wheelchair users like herself in getting around the shops.
Mrs Kelly, who lost the ability to walk more than 30 years ago following treatment for polio as an infant, said the aisles in some shops were too narrow and restricted for her. She claimed that as she tried to manoeuvre around stores in her powered wheelchair she often knocked items over.
“You’re made to feel victimised because of your disability,” said Mrs Kelly.
“I don’t mean to knock things over. I can’t help it.
“But when it happens, there are some people that get angry and blame you for it. It’s very distressing. People see me struggling and they won’t help. I know plenty of people in wheelchairs who have had similar experiences to me.”
Mrs Kelly, 52, who lives with her elderly father Ron Worssell – who is also a wheelchair user – is appealing for more shopkeepers to try to widen their store’s aisles and clear them of “unnecessary clutter.”
Mike Dunne, chairman of the Arun Access Group, a voluntary organisation in Littlehampton, campaigning for improved facilities for the disabled, said: “Failure to provide access to disabled people is discrimination and is a breach of The Equality Act 2010.”
He added businesses that did not comply with the law could face action in civil courts.
Simon Vickers, chairman of the Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership, said: “It’s a difficult situation for retailers. Obviously they have to make the most of the space available, while being sensitive to customers’ need. I know many do their best to help wheelchair users.”