Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Strategies, Tired, Old Strategies

So, we'd made the reservation. I'm careful with reservations. "Fully accessible!" I'm told by a chipper person who's taking down the details regarding time and number of people attending. "Fully accessible," is a term much mistrusted in the disability community. At least my immediate community tenses with caution when hearing that two word phrase.

We get there and there are two steps up to the dining area. I said to the host, "I was told this was fully accessible." He smiled, as if I'd made a joke, "Well, we're kinda accessible." There isn't any such thing as "kinda accessible." He showed me a flimsy fold up ramp that can be put out to go up the stairs. Now at my weight and the weight of whoever is helping me, we aren't getting up that ramp. Secondly, even if we get up the ramp, there is no where to go. The space between tables is so tight that those who walk have to turn sideways to get through.

I'm angry.

I know that it's not the host's fault. I know that. I know that the people who run the restaurant know that too ... the one's who really are at fault. The one's who encourage their staff to say, 'fully accessible' and the one's who rely on the good manners of customers facing barriers to not yell at staff who have no control. I want to yell at the host. I really do. But I don't. He's working for a paycheck. He doesn't own or run the business. He has to deal with people all day. I want to give him a message to management but I wonder if he ever even sees them.


I'm angry.

I found a place where I could get up from my chair, use the handrails to make it up the two stairs, and then get the chair under me and in at a table. It was difficult and it was dangerous, but I had planned this, it was a special occasion, and I wasn't going to have it be my disability, again, that caused problems.

Because it's not my disability that's the problem, but people find it easier to blame what's present, the disability, rather than what's not present, actual accessibility.

So, I acted calm but ate angry.

In the end, I had fun. Well, that's not quite true. Part of me had fun, part of my was using tired old anger management strategies just to get me through lunch.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Sounds like time to ask more detailed questions - but you shouldn't have to.

Maybe something such as, "If I were your beloved grandfather, celebrating my 90th birthday, coming to your restaurant in my wheelchair with an oxygen tank on the back, would I be able to get to a decent table, and would there be room for me to sit comfortably. And then, when I needed it, could I, YOUR grandfather whom you love, get to the restroom without any problem, use the handicapped stall, and get back easily to my table?"

They aren't thinking. You have to get past their barriers (what the boss told them) to their EMOTIONS - to their empathy and human connection. It might work.

Susan said...

I use Trip Advisor a LOT when I travel. I like to check the reviews and know what I'm going to face when I get there as well as warning others if I am able to identify an issue. This past summer in Sault Ste. Marie I was assigned an "accessible room" even though I don't have a mobility disability simply because it was the last available room in the hotel. I was appalled to find out it was on the third floor. I thought to myself "how is Dave supposed to get out of here if there is a fire?" (There were clear instructions NOT to use the elevators in the case of a fire but to exit via the stairs. WTF???) Anyway, I spoke to the manager about it (who didn't seem to think it was very important) but then made a strong point about it when I reviewed the hotel on Trip Advisor. But what if every hotel/restaurant had a "disability rating" and reviews by users on some kind of a central data base? I wonder if Trip Advisor (or CAA or similar) would expand their services to include reviews specifically BY and FOR people with disabilities?

Unknown said...

Maybe the students at the college in Toronto that Dave has mentioned - one that has students preparing to work as support staff for disabled adults - could do a survey of Toronto places and get that up on the web....
adding information to Trip Advisor is a good idea...
although I am not mobility impaired, it would be easy to post about internal and external barriers that are obvious now that Dave has taught me to notice......

I can do that...
So I'll try. Maybe it will make a difference.

Susan said...

Me too.. "Now that Dave has taught me to notice", I try my best to make a difference.