Leftwing Idiot and I were supposed to give a talk about the importance of inclusion and accessibility this morning but something got in the way – six steps up to the conference room!
I’ve had problems in this building before – it’s fairly old, and stair-heavy as a result. Last time I was there the lift wasn’t working, but this time it was that the organisers simply hadn’t thought things through. With my previous experience in mind I’d sent an email letting them know well in advance that I was a wheelchair user, double-checking that the room would be accessible. I got an abrupt reply telling me it would all be fine. So I assumed it would be.
We took the (now working) lift to what we thought was the right floor and when we came to a flight of stairs Leftwing Idiot started up them to find out what the alternative route in was.
The woman organising the event came to the top of the stairs and looked down at me. She looked as if she was trying to solve a logic puzzle – how could she make her stairs and my wheels work together in such a way that this unforeseen problem would go away? The simple answer was that she couldn’t.
While she puzzled over what to do, I contemplated giving the talk from the landing and calling it ‘The six steps to Inclusion.’ It made us laugh while we waited.
Eventually the organiser suggested that we all went to another room for me to give my talk, but pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to stay in it for long because it was booked later on by someone else. This would mean we’d have to do our talk about inclusion without being able to stay to hear anyone else’s presentations.
Unsurprisingly, at this point we chose to leave.
It always amazes me how easily people overlook such basic considerations, even when they’ve been given very clear prior information. So, for the record (again) stairs and chairs don’t mix!
Here’s a diagram to remind everyone: