Saturday, February 23, 2013


It was G’s 40th birthday a few days ago.  After much effort, G found a restaurant that was wheelchair accessible.  One of G’s friends coming to the meal has been in a wheelchair for about a year and has had a few bad experiences.  A lot of restaurants that are listed as wheelchair accessible have self-declared themselves as such.  Whilst it would perhaps be harsh to say that they have lied, it might be fair to say that they don’t actually know what “wheelchair accessible” actually means.  Let’s consider further:

Q: Are you wheelchair accessible?

Restaurant:  Yes.

Woo-hoo!  Job done.  But hang on… you might just want to ask a couple more questions…

Q: So is there easy access for a wheelchair user to get into the restaurant?

Restaurant:  Yes.  Apart from the steps to get through the front door.  But there are only a couple of them.

Er… right… I wasn’t aware that wheelchairs and steps are actually compatible.  Maybe it might be worth a couple more questions.

Q: So, is there disabled toilet on the ground floor?

This often elicits one of two answers.

Answer 1:

Restaurant:  No, it’s in the basement/ mezzanine floor/ some other inaccessible part of the restaurant for someone in a wheelchair

Answer 2:

Restaurant: No.  But the pub next door does, and they won’t mind them using it.

G phoned about 10 restaurants and got these types of answers from all of them – and they had all declared themselves as wheelchair accessible.  However, there was a restaurant that, after a long conversation, was definitely wheelchair accessible.  All the answers were as hoped for and the owner was very reassuring.  G then phoned on the day to confirm that all was ok for the booking.  A slight alarm bell went off when one of the staff said “I see you have an invalid in your party”.  Seriously??  An invalid???  And then, for some unknown reason, wanted to know how old the person was (about 35 incidentally…). 

When we arrived at the restaurant, we found there was actually a step that was about six inches high at the entrance.  But the owner said it was all fine because he would have people standing by the door to lift the wheelchair in.  To clarify, THAT IS NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE.  I am able-bodied and if you had burly men lift me into a restaurant, I would not be impressed.  This is no less the case if you are in a wheelchair. 

I am so unimpressed by people’s understanding of wheelchair accessibility.  I totally get that not everywhere can be accessible, but don’t say that you are if you’re not.  Being able to get through the door and to go the toilet in the restaurant are really basic things and if you are not able to provide those you are not properly accessible.  And don’t even start me on the restaurant that had a disabled toilet, but had a table right up against the door.  When G asked them about why they blocked the disabled toilet door, the reply was “we never get disabled people in here”…

It’s my sister’s 40th birthday this week and I have got her an iPad.  I was talking to mum today and telling her what I had got (and that I had got 20% off it as HMV have massively discounted their stock.  Marvellous!).  We were discussing what my nephew was getting my sister, and mum said he had told her that he and I were getting her an iPad.  Oh right… that was news to me, but a nice healthy contribution toward its cost would be most welcome (he is seven years old incidentally…).  So I thought I’d better phone my nephew to check what he thought was going on.  I asked him what he was doing about a present for his mum and he somewhat sheepishly said that he thought we were both getting her an iPad.  I said that was fine, but that maybe he might want to give her something on the day, as she wouldn’t be getting the present until Saturday.  We then discussed some ideas, and what was happening about him getting a card for her.  Anyway, I am having lunch with my sister on Wednesday and it now turns out that I will be giving her a sealed package of goods to take home with her – being a birthday present and a card for my nephew to wrap/ write so that he can give them to my sister on Thursday.  Plus we’ll both be giving her the Ipad on Saturday.  I think my nephew might have done quite well out of this deal…

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