Accessibility plays a key role for Annika Schröder. She sees a need to catch up in many areas – from public transport to bureaucracy. The 25-year-old competitive athlete has the support of her friends and family. Why she would like to see more determination from politicians and how she rolls otherwise, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Annika Schröder Age: 25 Occupation: M.Sc. Psychologist, Psychotherapist in training Disability: Incomplete paraplegia
Annika Schröder: A day is a good day for me when I manage to have a good balance between productivity and relaxation. :)
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Annika Schröder: My active wheelchair and my car that has been converted to hand gas, as well as the elevator in my apartment building. These three things are the basis for my mobility and independence.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Annika Schröder: I would like for disabilities to be seen as more "normal". I have understanding for insecurities and at the same time I feel most comfortable when my disability does not play a role. I really appreciate that about my environment, for example; the people who have known me for a long time don't perceive my disability as a limitation.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Annika Schröder: This ties in quite well with the previous question. In terms of auxiliary means, I see myself well equipped. What I would like to see are more structural "aids". For example, universal accessible public transport still needs a lot of improvement. I don't feel limited by my disability in one place or another, but by a lack of accessibility, for example. If society would consider disability to be more "normal", accessibility should also be normal. This would ultimately benefit everyone, including parents with strollers or commuters with bicycles. In my eyes, accessible planning should be the basis for funding with public funds.
Annika Schröder is a para national player in badminton. Last year she represented this sport at REHACARE in the Sports Center.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Annika Schröder: That's a good question, I can't name a central challenge. I think in the end it's the sum of the "little things" in everyday life. :)
Having a disability brings a lot of bureaucratic work with it, managing this on an ongoing basis alongside a job, therapist training and competitive sports is a constant challenge. Fortunately, I still get a lot of support from my family.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future? Annika Schröder: I can't think of anything specifically related to the coronavirus... But what we have seen during the pandemic is that politics is quite capable of tackling problems in depth and at great financial expense in a very short period of time. I would like to see more political determination to implement accessibility in public spaces (such as public transport, building infrastructure).
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Annika Schröder: In terms of sport, I would love to meet Jessica von Bredow-Werndl one day. I have read her book and find her attitude towards competitive sport, her handling of success, failure, pressure and expectations exciting. She has found a way to keep the focus on the joy of the sport and the well-being of the horses, the environment/team and herself.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Annika Schröder: In 2014, I met my future driving school (Cornelia Schiefer) and my car refitter (Sodermanns) at REHACARE. Besides the freedom my driving license gives me every day, I had a very nice time at REHACARE and later during my driving lessons. In 2022, as a Para Badminton national player, I was allowed to present our sport in the Sports Center and was able to make many connections in this regard. This also gave me a lot of joy. What I wanted to say...
Annika Schröder: Having a disability is not a significant limitation for me; as long as I have an environment in which I can move freely (accessibility) and I would be happy if society would accept it that way.