Recently I went to Bill’s in Leeds to celebrate dad’s birthday (Happy birthday dad if you’ve google searched my blog and having a cheeky read). It was lovely and the food was divine. When I go to Bill’s and many other places I have to use the ‘entrance’ at the back which is step free, which we all know isn’t the most glamorous.
The only way I can describe the experience to someone who doesn’t need step free access is, you know when a friend comes round spontaneously and you have no idea that they are coming and you suddenly look round at the mess and quickly run round picking up the not-for-friends-to-see items round the house? It’s like that.
Now I’d like to reinforce here that I do not speak for all disabled people on this opinion, and I’d like to hear others thoughts. For me, I don’t usually mind this. I smile and wait for staff to make the entrance easy for me to get in. You could argue that yes, it should be accessible and I’d totally agree. But for me it’s all about the welcome. The only annoying aspect is this is hard when you’re on your own wanting to enter a building to let people know you’ve arrived, not ideal if your phone is out of service…
Recently I went to Greek Street The Alchemist and I had to do the same routine, but I was greeted incredibly, escorted to a table straight away (when others had to queue) and was even given a free drink. Now, I’m not saying hand me a bottle of Prosecco and leave me down a case of steps. But it’s nice for staff to acknowledge that you’ve had to have a different, less glamorous experience and instead of ignore it, name it and go above and beyond after. You can have perfectly accessible places but get shockingly bad service and ignored when you enter. And of course you can have totally non-accessible places and staff say on the phone ‘sorry we are not accessible, bye’.
For me it’s about the whole package, the environment, the preparation and the service.
So yes, of course ideally the world would be accessible and I would totally choose to enter a building with everyone else. But for now, I don’t mind going through a car park and passing the bins if service is welcoming and memorable.
Cheers to that wi mi brew from Bill’s.
Have you had lots of experience of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!