Monthly Archives: August 2014

I wish this were a freak incident.

But it’s not. I cannot count how many times I have had to tell the person on the phone that I am disabled (WCHC, which means i cannot walk or stand), only to have to tell the ground crew at check in that I am WCHC disabled, and then to have to tell the ground crew at the gate that I am WCHC and will need an aisle chair, only to have them act as though this is the first time that they have heard of it, and the personnel and aisle chair arrive late, meaning I get to board in front of a plane load of passengers.

“We’ve researched the details of this Denver customer’s travel and can verify that she checked in at her flight at Newark Liberty International Airport two hours prior to her scheduled departure. but a processing error in that check-in process did not alert our employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft.”

This needs to be fixed, and it isn’t specific to any one airline.


This is really discouraging,

Helen and I were in Denver a couple of years ago, and since I’m rather fond of old train stations, we went down to see Union Station. It was being renovated; surrounded by scaffolding and rubble, so we couldn’t go in.

Well they’ve finished it, according to this article, but also according to this article, “The station’s Great Hall features a public area with seating and shuffleboard tables, but the area is elevated and unreachable by people who can’t climb stairs, according to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.”

And, “The Coalition says RTD has offered to set up a temporary ramp when someone needs it. The group’s attorney, Andrew Montoya, says that’s not enough.

That’s absolutely not the same experience, basically to have to go around, see that there is no ramp, and then make your way around, trying to find someone who maybe can get a ramp out for you,” Montoya said.

I know exactly what Mr Montoya is talking about. Equal access doesn’t mean that an able bodied person gets to walk up a flight of stairs while their disabled counterpart has to go find someone and ask them, “Excuse me sir/madam, could you please put up the ramp?”

How is this even possible? I could understand if the station were in its original condition, but they just renovated it and the ADA has been in force since 1990. How hard is it to install a permanent ramp?

Thank you to the Facebook group, “Representing Disability in an Ableist World” for this information.


Why won’t hotels invest £140?

In the absence of a worldwide – or even Europe-wide – code of standards, it can be a complete gamble for a wheelchair-user when booking hotel rooms. Often the access rooms are simply ‘wheelchair friendly’ i.e. the door is wide enough to get through and there may be a few grab rails in the bathroom for good measure.

Just this week, I booked a disabled room at the Premier Inn in Brighton. Luckily, I checked the facilities afterwards – just on a hunch – and learned that there is no shower bench. Just ‘ample room’, grab rails and a low bath. When I questioned how a paraplegic was supposed to get in and out of the bath, I was told that the rooms “have all gone through disabled access groups”. This room has been approved by disabled access professionals who have clearly mastered the art of levitation. Possibly too niche a group to be determining what is suitable for the wider population?

We are following this up with the accessibility coordinator at Premier Inn and then possibly via Whitbread HQ.  Watch this space to see how it develops.  I really don’t have the time to follow this up every time we encounter a problem, though.

Why can’t all hotels just follow the US standards, hard-fought, through the Americans with Disability Act?

One of the stipulations there is: “Identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms offered through its reservations service in enough detail to reasonably permit individuals with disabilities to assess independently whether a given hotel or guest room meets his or her accessibility needs.”  This is the LEAST that hotels should be doing.  As an example, we were pretty impressed with this document available from the Thistle Hotel in Brighton.

The most common problem we face at hotels is the failure to provide adequate seating in the bath tub or roll-in shower area. They cost about £140!  Much, much less than the price of our planned stay at the Premier Inn. If I were the manager of the Premier Inn in Brighton and I’d had an email from me, complaining about this ridiculous situation, I would have said:  “You are not coming here until October, we have plenty of time to purchase a shower bench, which will be a fantastic investment for other guests who may have special needs too.”  The manager was very professional and very polite but did not take this initiative, sadly.  **(See update below)** So we cancelled the booking and have now opted for the MyHotel which has a shower seat in the wet room.

I could rant for much longer about the poor facilities in other Brighton hotels (including the Holiday Inn which is normally our go-to chain for reliability of suitable adaptations and provision of a shower transfer bench!) but life is short. Stuff to do, innit.

** Update: I have discovered that the manager of the Brighton Premier Inn has in fact enquired about benches with the accessibility co-ordinator.  Everything they buy must be from an approved supplier and authorised by our head office, especially around disabled access rooms.  “This particular issue of seats have never come across before in this hotel and if my head office is happy for us to purchase some, then it would not be a problem (they would in this case recommend us a particular brand and supplier).”  Looking hopeful!


Airshells – “for safe handling of wheelchairs”

Could be a good product for more peace of mind when travelling with your wheelchair:  Airshells

There is an article about it here.

“Airshells specializes in the safe handling of fragile baggage such as wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers. Airshells was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2005 by Kim Christensen, himself a former airport luggage handler. Located at some 75 European and 250 American airports, Airshells products are easily rented online at www.airshells.us. Follow Airshells on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Airshells

Please let us know if have of you have had experience of using this product.

 


Cape Verde

We had heard that these islands are coming up as a great destination as not too touristy yet and only about six hours flight from the UK.  Mindelo has a rich history and a great music scene. Seemed very appealing.

Doesn’t sound great for a wheelchair user however.

This is the message back from one of the specialist tour operators:

Thank you for your enquiry.
I would say that the islands would not be very easy at all.
There aren’t any hotels with adapted rooms on the islands and to visit Mindelo you would have to fly to the island of Sal, change aircraft to a 60 seater and onto Sao Vicente.
This would need to be done in reverse on the way back.
The roads and pavements can be very uneven, there are lots of cobbled streets and dust tracks.
Sorry if this is not very positive, but the islands are still not very developed.
Kind regards,

Nina Garrett
Sales Consultant

Tel: 0845 338 8708

Web: serenity.co.uk

 


%d bloggers like this: