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The world is so cruel to disabled people — I’ve opened a fully-accessible hair salon just for us

Salon
Salon

Hair’s some positive news.

A beautician who survived a tragic accident is fighting back against the cruelty and discrimination she said she has encountered as a disabled person — by opening her own, entirely accessible salon.

Maddi Neal-Shankster, 22, from Coventry, England, was left paralyzed from the waist down after falling off a hotel balcony on the party island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand last New Year’s Eve.

The harrowing incident left her with a broken back and collapsed lungs. Her ribs also pierced her liver after she fell.

Neal-Shankster told the BBC that her new normal opened her eyes “to how cruel and harsh the world can be to disabled people.”

Maddi Neale-Shankster, 22, became paralyzed from the waist down after a fall from a balcony in Thailand. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster
Maddi Neale-Shankster, 22, became paralyzed from the waist down after a fall from a balcony in Thailand. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster

Since then she said she’s struggled to get beauty treatments because of the inaccessibility of salons.

“I have found the world’s a lot harder in a wheelchair, so I wanted to make it an easier place for me and anyone in this situation,” she explained.

Neal-Shankster said she opened a salon for both able-bodied and disabled people so that no one has to experience what she has.

Her business is called Maddi Shankster Enhancements, according to her social media.

Neal-Shankster recalled wanting to use a sunbed at a salon and being told that she was only able to if the salon’s door was left open.

The salon has wider tables for wheelchair bound clients. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster
The salon has wider tables for wheelchair bound clients. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster

“I didn’t fit in the toilet, I didn’t fit down the corridor, I didn’t fit in the nail desk,” she said of her challenges in conventional salons.

She wants her salon to be a place “where you don’t feel judged, out of place, a burden for needing extra support,” she explained.

Her salon has bigger doorways and rooms so that wheelchairs can enter. The salon also has wider nail desks as well as a ramp with a slow incline.

The salon’s owner hopes to counter the challenges she’s faced getting beauty treatments. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster
The salon’s owner hopes to counter the challenges she’s faced getting beauty treatments. Facebook/Maddi Neale-Shankster

“In my experience, a lot of places say it’s disabled access because they’ve got a ramp, but the ramp’s far too steep or it’s made out of stone,” she explained.

In addition to supporting disabled people in their beauty experiences, her salon also hosts charity raffles to raise money for spinal research.