Often now, when I travel into London, I need to use a rollator (I call it Dolores) and once, so far, a mobility scooter (that was frustrating but fun and love that they can be hired – if only railway stations hired them…). Since accepting that such aids are necessary I’ve been able to do loads more than for many years before I figured out to just get on with using whatever is needed for some kind of normal! And while my experience of getting out and about as a “disabled” person is meagre compared to people who have to do such on a daily basis, it certainly has been an eye-opener as to what is still unnecessarily difficult.
For instance, this year I’m deputy lead for WordCamp London and have made it a mission to find an accessible venue for the social evening for the volunteers and speakers. Last year this was at Bounce and I am glad I’d not needed to bring Dolores on that occasion; a steep set of stairs meets you and there was no obvious alternative. I almost left immediately but needed to be there in my role as volunteer lead. This year we are told that there is a goods lift that could be used…
In this day and age I figured it would really not be that difficult to find out about the accessibility of a venue. I was wrong and this makes me a bit cross, quite frankly. You’d think that venues that are accessible – spaces with few or no bumps in the floor to jar wheels, and room between tables/chairs/stools, lifts to different floors (even if just for the toilets), being able to open the blasted door while wrangling a rollator that sometimes has a mind of its own – little things and yet… But if you have these – why not say so on your website! I have a budget of a few thousand pounds to allocate – small-fry in the scheme of things but for an important “thank you” to people giving up their time for the wider community, it matters. Make it easy to be inclusive, so that we could all come along. I do understand how difficult it can be to provide some accessibility necessities in older buildings, but at least be up-front about that and don’t waste my time having to ask the questions when I need to know.
It’s really not that difficult, you see. A page, or a section on the relevant page, on your website stating any accessibility “features” you might have or particular obstacles. Call them features, selling points, whatever makes it worth your while, but give us that information. Please. Do you know how much the market is worth if you made it easy for us?
In the end we’ve asked DesignMyNight to find some options, hoping that they may already know about the accessibility of venues, plus we’ve been sent a couple of recommendations. But it could all have taken a lot less time for a matter of some words on your website.
Come on, London – sort it out!