I went to the Tate Modern this morning for a meeting about some work I’m doing there. Because it’s a massive building and I needed to do a fair bit of moving about I used one of their complimentary wheelchairs.
When we went to get a lift to the upper floors I noticed a large sign next to it that said:
“Celebrate your ability to use your legs and please give priority to those who need to use the lifts.”
I understood and appreciated the good intention of the message, but it didn’t feel that positive to me. It made me laugh but it also made me cringe.
I didn’t like it because it talks to one group of people only, those able to use their lower limbs without assistance. People with less reliable legs are most likely to be the ones waiting staring at it. And they’re talked about rather than to.
I’m going to mention this at the next meeting I have there and see what happens.
I feel the same sitting at the front of a bus and reading "please give these seats up for the elderly and disabled" signs, and knowing that everyone else is looking at me thinking i should move because i don’t look elderly or disabled.
I think signs like these do serve a purpose, especially in increasing awareness among people who simply haven’t thought about others’ needs. But different language would help. Maybe if they said something like, "Do you really need to use this seat/lift? If you are able-bodied, please be considerate of others. If you have a need, please don’t be afraid to speak up. Our staff will support you." Although that is a bit long-winded!