No taxis or buses to accommodate me and my wheelchair? Hold my tea. - Zahara Sedighi, probably.
When it comes to accessibility for the disabled, some countries do better than others. However, not even the best ones have it all figured out. This means that sometimes it’s up to the people affected to take action and show us how it’s done with varying degrees of badassery.
In the realm of badasses, Zahara Sedighi ranks pretty high. After suffering from polio as a child and losing the ability to walk, the woman from Mashhad, Iran, has had to face her share of hardships. Hardships including things like being hauled to school by her mother in a wheelbarrow. Sob story aside, her disability hasn’t stopped Zahara from thriving and going about her life despite the frustrating lack of adapted services in her home country.
"I cannot use the bus, I cannot find a taxi. There is no other transport for disabled people in society," she told Euronews.
Since taxis and public transit that can accommodate handicapped riders are vanishingly rare in Sedighi's hometown, she MacGyvered her very own wheelchair-friendly motorcycle. No transport, no problem.
The contraption is built with two motorcycles halves attached to a platform (Looks like a pair of old Iranian Pishtaz bikes, but I have no idea what models they are -JM). It features a stowable access ramp and has a handlebar located at the center with all of the controls. This allows Zahara to roll onto her sweet ride with her wheelchair and drive away. No need to swap seats and figure out where to stow the chair.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, there’s more—Sedighi doesn’t actually have a motorcycle license. Not for lack of trying, though. While there is technically no law forbidding women to have a motorcycle license in Iran, authorities simply refuse most requests to issue them and she's never been able to attain one. That hasn’t kept her from riding her chariot for the past seven years, however.
A new parliamentary bill—the Comprehensive Protection Act for Disabled Citizens—could change things for her and the 1.3 million disabled people in the country soon though. If passed, the bill would greatly improve access to facilities and transportation. Plus, Iran's Vice-President for Women and Foreign Affairs (because both apparently go together) Masoume Ebtekar is looking into her situation, but the battle hasn’t been won.
In the meantime, Zahara Sedighi doesn’t have to wait for things to improve to go to work and to university. Where thrives adversity, so does ingenuity.