I attended a labour workshop at the Melksham King’s Park Children Centre last Tuesday. On arrival, the two disabled car parking spots were easy to spot and in a very good location, right on the edge so that there were space on the driver’s side as usual, but also space on the passenger side, although it puts me in the road, it’s an improvement over not being able to get out of the car. It’s a short walk/push to the entrance, which unfortunately is a heavy swing door that requires one person to hold it open and one to push the wheelchair. My midwife was ready to assist and so we didn’t have any issue there. The room the workshop was held in had a child gate fitted, which meant that the wheelchair did not fit. I had to get out, Chris had to either lift the wheelchair over or take the cushion and bag off, fold it, wheel it through, then unfold at the other end so I could sit down. Less than ideal, but as I can stand up and walk short distances, not a deal breaker for me and I didn’t think much of it; as accessibility goes, hitting only one obstacle is pretty good.
We received a phone call a few days later apologizing for the lack of access. We received another phone call on Tuesday morning from the manager apologizing again and saying that the gate has been changed to be easily removable and going along to another workshop in the evening, could we let her know if I can now get into the room with the wheelchair. We arrived last night, the wheelchair fit perfectly through the door and I was very impressed.
Accessibility is something of a loosing battle in general. I’m used to not being able to take the wheelchair into many places, used to not having access to a disabled toilet or if there is one, it meeting the minimum requirements as well as doubling up as baby changing stations, bin storage, other storage; having emergency chords tied up or out of reach, no adapted tabs and a host of other flaws. Accessibility is more than just putting a ramp down at the entrance, it’s making sure that there’s access to all facilities throughout. It’s lovely when something that was a problem is fixed efficiently and although an unexpected surprise, the phone call was a pleasant one to receive. It gives me a little more faith in how things are run, a little more trust in the people who run them and that small boost in confidence to go out and access things. It reminds me that despite so many negative experiences, not everywhere is inaccessible and not all staff are unhelpful.