From their web page I discovered almost everything I needed to know. They had a diverse menu, complete with both vegetarian and vegan offerings.
They were located right near where we were going to meet our friend. They had really good reviews. I looked, found their phone number and called them.
A friendly voice answered the phone. I asked them if their restaurant was wheelchair accessible. “Yes, we are!” she stated with some excitement.
Then I was told about the flat entrance and the fully accessible washroom. “We are quite proud of the access we provide,” she said.
I never know what to say when someone says that they are ‘proud’ of being accessible.
At an earlier stage of my life with a disability I would have said something like, “and you should be!” I don’t say that any more. I guess because I think accessibility should be a given not a gift. But, since she was in such a good mood about it all, I thought I’d press the point.
“Well, you aren’t completely accessible,” I said. She rushed to assure me that they were. “The thing is,” I explained, “If you were fully accessible, I wouldn’t be talking to you at all.
I went to your web site, like any other customer, checked out your menu, like any other customer, and now I have to call you, unlike other customers, because you have no information about your accessibility on your website.
There is still an extra step in the process for disabled people. If you want to be absolutely, fully accessible, you need to remove that last step.”
There was a moment of silence on the phone. I felt ice form.
Then, after that frozen pause, “OK, I’ve noted it down. I’ll give that to the owners.” Then I felt really bad, like I’d taken the wind out of her sails about the accessibility of the place.
She sounded defeated.
I thought I was being an advocate but I was being a bit of an asshole.
See it’s this personal bugaboo of mine, I believe that it should be mandatory that restaurants and bars have an accessibility notice on their websites. I once spent an hour in Baltimore calling restaurants trying to find one that had vegetarian options and was wheelchair accessible.
It pisses me off. I don’t think I should have to call. I think they should just tell you on their site.
I had brought all of that into a conversation with someone who was excited about the fact that the restaurant she worked in was accessible.
I don’t regret mentioning it, but I could have done it differently. I didn’t need to challenge her assertion that they were accessible, because I wasn’t really doing that, I was challenging her.
Sometimes this advocacy thing is hard to get right.