Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Go On Guess

Wanna know what makes a hotel inaccessible?

We arrived at the hotel and conference center and parked in the disabled parking. We noted that the ramp up and into the hotel was, um, steep and narrow. Kinda like the one to heaven is supposed to be. So I waited outside. Joe came back to inform me that there was an accessible entrance up the hill and in through the restaurant. Our room? Well, it would be at the furthest possible distance from the disabled entrance. OK, we're used to planning done by stupid people. Annoying and all but this isn't what makes a hotel inaccessible.

The accessible entrance was a kick. There were several small lips that made it difficult to easily get over. More than that the door was a tad narrow and did not have a button to push to get it to open. There was no way we were getting in with just the two of us. I got out and walked the little I could to hold open the door, Joe got the chair through the first door and the second door. I sat down in the chair, exhausted. Joe was tired from fighting the chair through the doors. Frustrating and all but this isn' what makes a hotel inaccessible.

When we got in we were beside the restaurant which was several stairs down. Apparently they could get us a ramp that would be steep enough to be considered an event in the winter olympics. But if we liked they would consider bringing us food up to the bar area. So we have to eat separately from everyeone else. We can cope, this isn't what makes a hotel inaccessible.

I wanted to see the room I am speaking in so I stopped at the front desk. No one was waiting to check in, no one was calling for directions, two clerks stood looking like they were just waiting to burst into service, so I asked where the room was and I was told that the disabled access was down some service hallway. Regular people will go down the public hallway, descend a few stairs and then enter. I'll have to go in an entirely different way. When I asked if I could see the disability entrance - the young female clerk at the hotel screwed her face up like she was five years old and was about to begin to cry -and said in hostile tones that she would have to show us. Her whole body said, with every movement. 'And it's a big freaking inconvience.'

That's what makes a hotel inaccessible.

And one heck of a big PS

So the bathroom. Way too small for a wheelchair to get in so I just shaved in an ice bucket with no mirror. That my face doesn't look like raw meat is a miracle. However I may have wolfman tufts of hair all over my face and neck. A nice look for a conference keynoter, don't cha think? Maybe I'll smooch with the desk clerk.


Andrea S. said...

That negative attitude of "And it's a big freaking inconvenience," asides from itself being an accessibility issue, is probably what leads to all the other inconveniences you experienced. That attitude on the part of all the people who designed this building, and all the people who have been in a position to fix it since then (or at least fix parts of it), would have prevented them from seeing the problem (because they wouldn't care enough to look for it) and from doing anything about it (because, it would have been a "freaking inconvenience").

As a deaf person who has encountered my own set of attitude-related barriers, I agree attitude is a big one. I depend on the on-going cooperation of others for my communication access. If others think it is a "freaking inconvenience" to have to accommodate my communication needs and make no effort to disguise their sentiment, then that's what leads to things like "forgetting" to pass on certain pieces of critical information, or only repeating part of the information I need but not bothering to pass along the rest, or failing to simply TELL me when they don't understand me (and instead just nod vaguely while hoping I'll take my question and go away).

If it's clear that a hearing person finds it a "freaking inconvenience" to accommodate my communication needs then it becomes that much harder to make myself be assertive about asking other people to assist me. I often end up with a "spill over problem" -- not only do I become increasingly reticent about asking the person with the attitude problem for help but I also find it harder to approach other people because I get so accustomed to holding myself back and just sitting on my seething frustration. It gets so it can take a huge amount of psychic effort and emotional energy to make myself assert my rights in even the simplest ways.

Yet attitude, for some reason, seems to be the hardest barrier for most non-disabled people to really grasp as BEING a barrier. It's not as tangible or as readily understood as a doorway that is too narrow, or the absence of a sign language interpreter. Many people don't understand that, for non-disabled people, a poor attitude is merely an annoyance, a minor bump in the sidewalk. But for people with disabilities, a poor attitude can be a brick wall.

Liz Miller said...

Because of you, I see steps everywhere where I used to not notice. I have walker's privilege and I'll try to stay aware of it.

Shan said...

"Jinx!" to Liz. Took the words right out of my mouth.

Kristin said...

Like Liz said, because of reading your blog, I notice things I didn't use to notice. I promise I will always try to be aware.

I am so sorry you had to deal with that attitude from the clerk.

Glee said...

Bleah - makes me wanna spew!!!

DesertRose said...

I see from your bio that you live in Toronto, and I'm guessing that the hotel in question is also located in Canada. I am in the US, and I am not familiar with Canadian law, but if that were a US hotel, I would not have hesitated to tell them that they were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As to "the big freaking inconvenience" attitude, depending on my mood, I'd have been sorely tempted to point out the colossal number of big freaking inconveniences you face every day because of the wheelchair and crappy accessibility in that hotel and, I'm sure, a lot of other establishments.

None of this, of course, is to say that it's your responsibility to educate the ignorant about the rights of people with disabilities. I'm just talking about what I'd have done in a similar situation, and I'm an outspoken pain in the neck about these sorts of things.

Bright blessing attend you.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the hotel complied with the letter of the law.. and not a bit more.

I'm in a wheelchair too, and pretty outspoken about problems with accessibility. But you run into the same problems over and over, and sometimes it is just not worth spoiling my day with someone that doesn't care.