In her latest blog, Jess Grugeon talks about how her feelings on coming up against inaccessible buildings. Feelings I suspect which we've all had at one time or another.
I guess I am a little obsessed with access issues. I am also guilty of that crime, that many of us share, of people pleasing. Of pretending that I just don’t mind and it’s all fine. In truth. my ability to get into the building with everyone else is paramount. Each occasion when I discover that I am unable to join my friends at an event never ceases to upset me.
Over this past year I have been invited to several events, usually celebrations, birthday parties etcetera. Each invitation has come with an afterthought/note to say, ‘actually you probably can’t come as it’s upstairs /There is no toilet.’
I must admit with my friend’s recent birthday event I didn’t give it a second thought as I often use the venue’s accessible toilet and hadn’t realised that the front of their venue was totally impossible to get to in a power chair. It is almost as if they have fitted the toilet in a different building which is not connected to any other part of their premises. Very strange set up.
On arrival at this party I immediately use the toilet, noticing steps to the front building which I hadn’t before. My heart sinks a little and then as the bouncer opens up the glass doors at the front (smashing a wineglass as he goes!) my eyes look down to the considerable lip at the bottom of these bifold doors and I realise I’m not going to get in.
Luckily, my house is literally round the corner. I tell my friend that I am not bothered, although in truth I had been looking forward to this event for months. (She first told me about it in December the year before).Also, to be honest, if I had come in my small manual chair or if I had got out of my chair I could easily have made it. As it was I didn’t see anyone I recognised and it seemed to be quite busy. I never enjoy arriving to doors being flung open, glasses being smashed. I wasn’t really up for making a spectacle of myself.
My friend who came with me suggested that I have a drink with the birthday girl in the one part of Herd I Could access. She declined. We went home.
Buildings like this make me so mad. It is never the deliberate intention of the people who run the buildings to exclude and upset individuals but this end result does seem to be normalised, shrugged off and accepted by most.
This event was compounded when I read that for the second year running, a local, entirely inaccessible pub, has been awarded, ‘Pub of the Year,’ It is almost like we are celebrating the fact that groups of people with one ability can meet together and drink and laugh whilst those who can’t, can’t even get in the building!