Sunday, December 07, 2014

Am I Difficult? Unreasonable? Demanding?

Dear Members of The Service Industry Who Work in Places that Advertise Accessibility:

I am not difficult when I press you to provide me with an accessible service that I booked, that I double checked on, that I have documentation showing the booking and the guaranteed accessible service. No, I am in a difficult circumstance due to issues on your end. You need to realize that my arriving to find that what I booked isn't really available puts me into a bit of a panic and my mind is running through 'what do I do now' options at the same time as I'm talking with you. In fact, then, while you are treating me as difficult, in fact it's you who are making things difficult.

I am not being unreasonable when I expect that accessible means accessible. When you tell me, on the phone or on your website, that you are accessible, that means that you are accessible. This means that you have an accessible washroom. You are a restaurant, you serve food and drink, that means that people are going to need to pee and poo. Suggesting that I go down the block to McDonald's to use their toilet is unreasonable. When I ask to speak to the supervisor and when the discussion gets a little, not a lot, loud. When the supervisors looks around using his face to telegraph that he is dealing with an unreasonable person, she should recognize that it's a ridiculous and unreasonable demand that I leave the restaurant, in the dark and cold, and go down two blocks to use a toilet in another restaurant.

I am not being demanding when I insist on you talking to me, and me alone, when I am wanting to buy something at your store. I know that there is someone with me. I know you are more comfortable talking kind to kind, but it's wrong to disinvite me into a conversation that involves money in my pocket. You communicate clearly that you are uncomfortable looking at me and talking to me. When I'm clear that I am the customer, you react as if I'm demanding something unreasonable of you. I am not. I am demanding respect and you creating a situation when respect has to be forced out of you. Accessibility is your attitude too.

I am not a problem my requests are neither difficult or demanding and it is neither taxing or demanding of your time and energy to accommodate my needs as a customer. You say you are accessible so just freaking be accessible and we're good. It's not an unreasonable expectation of an accessible environment.



Belinda said...

That you should even have to explain these things is mind blowing!

kasie said...


Anonymous said...

Wow. I am so sorry that you ran into someone who thinks that 'accessibility' means 'go somewhere else to use a washroom'. My mind boggles. I sincerely hope that the inaccessible place realizes that THEY are the 'unreasonable' ones for not being welcoming to everyone.

ABEhrhardt said...

Easy. Print THIS out on a card-size piece of paper, carry them with you,
and hand them out the minute you have a problem.

Say nicely, "please read this." Then wait until the other person's brain is booted up to the right software.

Then smile, and continue on.

They don't know the ground rules. You do - but you shouldn't have to do it the hard way every time.

You could even number the paragraphs, and tell the person which paragraphs he/she needs to read.


Debbie said...

Your post today should be included in every hotel, restaurant, retail ect training program. And it should be reviewed with all staff on an annual basis.

B. said...

It's difficult to know if they really 'get it' or if they can. The bathroom situation is weird for sure. Thanks for speaking up, Dave.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was around 7 when a nurse at children's hospital asked her: "Ask your mother if..." I'm right here, and I speak English, I don't need a translator. And yes, I got difficult.

She was about 8, when grocery clerks would reach PAST me to hand her the receipt and the change from the check I wrote. It's my check. Give ME the change. Fifth or sixth time it happened the kid stepped back and put her hands behind her back. She knew what was coming.

Poor kid, I embarrass her sometimes, but sometimes you HAVE to be a bit difficult.


Unknown said...

This needs to be included in every health and social care building/training room as well. Because as long as the people who have chosen to work with disabled people, who are trained and paid to do those jobs, still believe that we are Difficult, Unreasonable and Demanding purely for having disability related needs and an expectation of being treated like a fellow equal human being, we'll be forever fighting this exhausting battle with the rest of society.

Andrea S. said...

One of the more frustrating things about being deaf is not that I can't hear, not that I sometimes need certain accommodations, but that some people treat me like I'm being hugely unreasonable and a "problem customer" just by having needs and expressing what they are.