The protesters were seeking to publicize their dissatisfaction with the “disabled equality law” which is to be discussed on Thursday in the Bundestag (German parliament).
The law would only make it an obligation for public providers to provide adequate facilities for disabled people. Private companies such as restaurants and cinemas would only be recommended, not required, to follow the legislation.
Angry that the law does not go far enough in ensuring that they have access to private services, the protesters chained their wheelchairs together on the bank of the river Spree, which flows past the Bundestag.
“We demand that private service providers are legally bound to provide disabled access,” said Sigrid Arnade, one of the organizers of the protest.
— GT Schlagzeilen (@gtschlagzeilen) 12. Mai 2016
“Most of the main public buildings already have disabled access, this would only really apply to minor public buildings such as town council offices,” Cornelia Jurrmann from the Sozialverband, an organization which campaigns for disabled people’s rights, told The Local.
While she said that this was an important change to the law it did not deal with the inconveniences that most affect disabled people’s lives.
“A wheelchair user is much more likely to use a rest stop on a motorway than a public registry office,” she pointed out.
As well as restaurants and other private companies, doctors’ practices are also not affected by the law because they are privately run in Germany.
According to Jurmann there are many doctors’ practices in Germany which still do not offer proper disabled facilities to older patients.
There are ten million people in Germany who live with disabilities. 7.5 million of them are severely disabled.