The conference I am at is spread over two hotels with sessions happening in each. The morning session I had chosen yesterday, the one following the keynote, was in the other hotel. To get there I had to go out and push up a fairly steep hill for a fairly long way. I made it on my own, with Joe protecting me from the inflictors of help, as I used all my strength to get me to the top. We crossed the street and now faced a problem.
Where the hell was the accessible entrance? We could see where the stairs were, but we could see no hint of a ramp. We ping ponged around and finally discovered where the accessible entrance was. It was out of view, there were no signs indicating that there was even the possibility of entry.
I’m late for the session, I wanted to get there early and be in the room so I could make a place for the chair because hotels, universally simply don’t set up rooms with the idea that a disabled person might come in. But, no, I’m late and the session is started.
I went to the desk and asked if I could speak to the front desk manager immediately. He came out and I let loose. I told him of what we faced when we came to the hotel and looked for the invisible access entry. He immediately nodded and agreed there should be signage.
“This is not news, it’s obvious that this signage should be there, but it’s not, tell me why?” He stared at me, lost. “I’ll tell you why. It’s not there because you don’t consider the needs of disabled guests as equivalent to those of your non-disabled guests. You see us as lesser people. You provide several entrances for the non-disabled and one, hidden away one, for those of us with disabilities. You know what it’s called when people see others as lesser? It’s called bigotry. Plain and simple bigotry. You already agreed, instantly that signage should be there, you weren’t surprised by my pointing this out. BUT IT’S NOT THERE. Now I have to go late to a session I wanted to be in and I’ve had to find my way in here, and I’ve had to speak to you because that’s my moral responsibility as a disabled person. Just to remind you, I know that I’ve told you and I know nothing will happen. Because bigots don’t care about feedback from disabled people.”
And I went to the session.
And while there had one, but it wasn’t about sex, it was about simply being able to go about my day with full access to the world in which I live. What a sad and pathetic fantasy. What ‘they’ get every day falls into the category of fantasy for me.