Disablism with friends

This event is still making me feel cross and it happened almost a year ago, so I thought I would post about it.

As you know, I’ve been using this wheelchair since spring 2010.

I want to talk about relates to a disablist attitude about inclusion of people at social events.

I was invited to a party, a Christmas party, in fact.

So I asked if the venue for the do was wheelchair accessible.

Err…. I’ll get back to you about this one.

No problem. They probably haven’t considered it when booking the venue, but now they have the head’s up, so I’m sure they will make sure I can get around in the venue.

The next day, the phone call came.

We’ve checked with the venue, and you’ll be fine in the wheelchair there. We can book a table on the gorund floor.

I know this venue, are you sure it’s wheelchair accessible?

Well, there is a small step on entry to the venue. But I’m sure we can get you up there.

And, um… where are the toilets and do they have a disabled loo?

Well, the toilets are downstairs. But don’t worry, if you need to go, one of us will carry you down the stairs.

Err… I don’t think I’ll be able to come, after all.

How can I begin to explain to this person how I would rather just not attend an event than have to ask to be carried to the loo if I need to go?

Who, exactly, is supposed to be doing the carrying? Is there going to be a man taking me in and out of the women’s toilet? Because I don’t think any of the women could manage it.

How does carrying me protect my joints and stop me from being injured by the experience?

Do they realise how blooming terrifying it is to be disabled, dependent, and potentially carried (dropped) by someone after a few drinks?

So, as with numerous other events, this was another one I just didn’t attend. Although I’m sure they didn’t mean to, the people organising it were not making reasonable adjustments for me- they were perpetuating the social barriers that ensure that people like me remain disabled. And it wasn’t necessary. There are venues which have disabled toilets on ground floor level. It was just that this particular party of people wanted to attend somewhere that didn’t have any ability to include wheelchair users in any meaningful way.

My disability is obvious, and a wheelchair user is easy to accommodate if you just check with the venue before booking. Any person with a disability/mental health need is able to let you know any additional needs they may have when considering booking a venue. They are waiting for you to ask.

So, if you’re planning a Christmas party, please don’t exclude your friends by failing to make simple changes to your plans that enable them to participate.

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