Friday, 1 May 2009

Where you least expect it

This isn't the post I was planning to write for Blogging Against Disablism Day this year.  I may still come back and write that post but I probably won't (or at least not today).

One of the hardest things about being disabled is the fact that you will face disablism on a regular basis.  How regular changes and in some ways its gotten better in recent times.   But it does still happen all too often.

Most people however will have places where they go regularly that they know are accessible and set up for them and it just generally works.  You don't need to work about disability issues there.  Or so I thought until this lunchtime.

There's this local pub I go to for lunch with various friends every few weeks.  I really like it there and it is the most accessible pub in this town.  I could get everywhere in the pub with no problems (well, I couldn't actually get in the ball pit itself but as I'm over the age/height limit it wasn't an issue!) The food is good, big portions and cheap too (it's a Hungry Horse) so it's great.  The staff have got used to me too and move a chair for me without being asked, usually asking which of my friends I'm meeting so they know whether to move more than one chair etc.

Well, we went today for the first time in ages... just haven't been for a pub lunch in a while and it was closed for a while being done up.

It does look nice, they chose good colours and generally I like the decoration.  My friend's little boy (3) was very disappointed however.  And so was I.  In fact I was livid.

R was disappointed they took the ball pit away and he couldn't go play.  His mummy was quite pleased by that though!

And I was disappointed because in doing up they've taken my lovely nice accessible pub where I could go everywhere... and I can now use less than half of it.  

Over by where the ball pit was and in that corner?  They've put in booths.  A nice red colour and they look comfortable, suit the place.  But not if you're in a wheelchair.  Can't move a chair in a booth so can't sit there in a wheelchair.

And the huge area over to the left?  It was completely flat as was the entirity of the pub.  But now for some reason it's surrounded by a nice dark wood railing and a step up to it.  That area you have to go up to the step to get too emcompasses half of the pub easily.

Oh my god why would anyone put an unnecessary step in a pub?!?!  Steps are not the interior design accessory to be seen with after all.  Maybe they are coming in for 2010 fashions and I didn't know... but it's so completely stupid!

I do wonder however how many people have a skinfull and forget the step is there now and fall over it in the next few weeks.

I kicked off at one of the staff members and asked why they had put a step in.  She said she didn't know and walked away.  I considered going off on the manager but as my friend said going to head office will achieve more.  Going off on the manager would have made me feel better but I'd rather achieve something.

If you factor in that they have different styles of tables and one or two of them (tables not styles) are difficult to get a wheelchair under I think there are now five tables in the entire pub I can sit out without a struggle.

And that's what so hard about disablism... we fight for access and we get it.... but that doesn't we get to keep it.    

Or so it seems.

And sometimes it pops up in a place we feel welcome and safe.  A place we least expect it.

I'm going to be finding a new place to go for lunch with my friends... I don't feel so welcome there any more


Ira Socol said...

This is an example of professions which need education - not just the pub owners, but interior decorators/designers, builders, local enforcement personnel. To change an accessible 'public accommodation' into an inaccessible one seems outrageous,especially when you consider how few accessible pubs exist today.

Disablism is everywhere. We have to fight it everywhere.

fridawrites said...

Wow, this is terrible! People are supposed to make their businesses more accessible during renovations, not less.

NTE said...

it is unfortunate that people don't THINK things through when they renovate... and that it isn't required that they do so.

I am sorry that your safe place is no longer safe. That sucks, big time.

elizabeth said...

I am very sorry your place to hang is now really an affront to EU legislation. I once saw in cardiff a sign saying "Wheelchairs welcome" and there were 3 steps to get into the pub. I am finding, in searching to move, that even the apartment buildings that don't have a step up, have, inside, a step up to the elevators (ARG!!!!!). I see beside them a walker of a 80 year old woman living there who can't lift it up to her place. Yes, why is this done, because apparently it 'breaks up the space' - I'm sorry.

Katja said...

How disheartening - you think they get it, you find out they don't get it, or that it's a different "they" making the decisions.

Gene said...

It is sad that you are losing one of your favorite places. I suggest writing a letter to the management and letting them know that you are disappointed and will be looking for another pub. And when you find a nice accessible pub, write a letter to THAT manager and tell them how much you appreciate it.

Sarai said...

As someone who is severely hearing impaired, I often struggle to understand life with other disabilities. Deafness, or at least hearing impairment, is often described as an invisible disability, since it is possible to conceal to some extent. I find accessibility a problem only when it pertains to more abstract realities, such as conversations, movies, public announcements in airports.

Thank you for writing this post. I had never heard of disablism before today, and appalled and saddened that the move toward inclusiveness I had been seeing isn't necessarily widespread or moving towards a foregone conclusion. We need to be aware of the incidents such as this pub's redesign, and we need to speak up when we see it happening. Thanks for the reminder to be less complacent about the changes we need to see in the world.

BingoLive said...

I am finding, in searching to move, that even the apartment buildings that don’t have a step up, have, inside, a step up to the elevators.I had never heard of disablism before today, and appalled and saddened that the move toward inclusiveness I had been seeing isn’t necessarily widespread or moving towards a foregone conclusion.


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