Is this place accessible?
As well as having to stare at everyone’s crotch, there are other downsides to using a wheelchair – one being the number of stairs at music venues, writes LOUISE BRUTON
I HAVE USED CRUTCHES to get around my whole life and, sadly, my mobility isn’t keeping up with me. At 24, I have had to start using a wheelchair occasionally to help me get around. Even though it is dead nifty for skipping queues, there are a few downsides to using a wheelchair – other than staring at everyone’s crotch. A lot of places in Ireland, Dublin specifically, are not fully accessible.
So many buildings in Dublin are preserved and protected, which can make the addition of ramps and lifts tricky. There is, however, a legal obligation for all public spaces to be accessible. But it’s not just old venues, new ones that have been renovated recently have somehow skipped the legal requirements to cater for everyone.
So reader, bands, DJs, managers, promoters, gig-goers, booze-drinkers, dancing deities, miserable old men in the corner, people going out for the shift, I want you to get involved.
All I want you to do is to ask any staff that you encounter in venues: “Is this place accessible?” Ask that question. A lot. Make it an issue. Make it important. Make it known that you want this and it’s not just one group of people after this. I don’t want to exclude any cities or towns. Let’s get them all in on this so, to quote J Lo, ask this question from “London to Ibiza, Straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Afreeeka”.
I am not naming any venues because I do not want to make enemies with the bar keeps of this small town, but here are a few things that must be changed:
Steps and stairs and slopes!
The odd step is manageable, that is, if you have a good friend to hoist you up, but flights and flights of stairs? I recently went to a venue which was up three flights of stairs. Two bouncers took it upon themselves to carry me and the chair up, but for the entire gig, I was wondering how I’d get down instead of actually watching the show.
I know lifts aren’t the cheapest thing in the world, but chair-lifts are priced accordingly and it only takes a couple of hours to have them set up. They’re not glamourous but at least you’ll be looking after every customer.
Separate but equal
A number of venues say that they are accessible but when asked if they have a wheelchair bathroom, they say it’s in the hotel or restaurant or pub next door. You are sending people in wheelchairs, on crutches, with bad backs, a limp, whatever, next door to pee.
It will cost a bit to amend your venue but I’m sure that a number of bathroom design shops in Ireland would be delighted to help. While we’re on the topic of wheelchair bathrooms, I’d just like to point out that many venues use them as their storage cupboard. So you will often find a dirty mop and bucket and many types of detergents on display. Not only that, but for some mad reason, many wheelchair bathrooms don’t have mirrors – why?
It really shouldn’t be this difficult. All I’m asking for is the minimum amount of stairs and an accessible bathroom (with a mirror) – in your venue, not anyone else’s.
This article was first published as a blog on notverywise.blogspot.com
Is this place accessible?
The response to this issue – not only from family and friends – but from some of Ireland’s most reputable music fiends has been overwhelming. Land Lovers, Bouts, Friend? and the record label Eleven Eleven have backed me, including Nay McArdle from Harmless Noise, the teams at The Ticket, Culch.ie and RGBeats, Aoife Barry, Nialler9 and many more.