Woman in wheelchair banned from boarding Edinburgh bus wins award

Karen Sutherland. Picture: get2gether
Karen Sutherland. Picture: get2gether
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A WOMAN in a wheelchair who was prevented from boarding a bus in Edinburgh has won an award for an animated film she made about her experience.

Karen Sutherland received an achievement award from the Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (Sata).

Buggy Off shows her being told she cannot get on the bus because there was a pushchair in the wheelchair space.

It happened on a Lothian Buses service in Lothian Road in 2014.

Ms Sutherland, who works for Edinburgh disabled adults organisation get2gether,said the incident had been a “life-defining moment, as I felt the power had been taken away - and my rights too.”

Get2gether deputy manager Sylvia Tillmann said: “Karen typifies self-determination, the ability to control one’s own life - a core principle of our work.”

Award winner Grace Warnock with get2gether project manager Marion Smith, who accepted Karen Sutherland's award on her behalf. Picture: Michael Gillen

Award winner Grace Warnock with get2gether project manager Marion Smith, who accepted Karen Sutherland's award on her behalf. Picture: Michael Gillen

Grace Warnock, a schoolgirl from Prestonpans, received the same award for inventing a sign which shows disabled toilets are not just for wheelchair users.

She had received abuse for using an accessible toilet simply because she didn’t “look disabled”.

What has become known as “Grace’s Sign” has been installed in hundreds of places across the country.

Sata secretary Mike Harrison said: “Both the recipients have suffered in the way they have been unjustly treated by others, and both have taken steps to try to show how people can help them rather than put them down.”

A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “We encourage staff to facilitate the use of wheelchair spaces as required and ask our customers to help by ensuring wheelchair spaces can be used for their intended purpose.”