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Disabled students find it hard going.

Sixth-form pupils at a North school for people with severe disabilities have vented their anger about the difficulties of shopping and socialising in the North-East.

The youngsters, aged between 16 and 17, from Percy Hedley School in Forest Hall, think not enough shops and entertainment outlets care about them or see them as valuable customers.

They are also angry that people can be patronising towards them.

Gary Stronach, 17, of Forest Hall, finds it hard to get around in busy areas. He said: "The town centres can be very busy. Some shops are very difficult ( the bigger ones tend to be OK, it's the smaller shops which are a real issue.

"I find I can't go to Eldon Square or to much of Newcastle ( so I go to the MetroCentre instead."

John Harrison, 17, of Whitley Bay, thinks disabled people are ignored or treated badly by most people.

He said: "Some offer us money or give us a lollipop in restaurants. It's patronising."

University students are also upset about the treatment they receive.

Arlene McKeever, of Meadow Lane, Dunston, Gateshead, a Phd student at Northumbria University, is researching access for disabled people.

Arlene said: "The access here on campus is very poor, even though they have made some new provisions.

"The lifts are cramped and if we had to be rescued from them in an emergency, I don't know what would happen.

"Owners of places say they are improving but often they are putting ramps up but not down ( they need guidance to tell them how to help."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:258
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