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Grounds for preposterous assumption. / 30 November 2012

The door is open, reversing I seek to bump my way up the small step. It is painful and I get stuck on my first attempt, but this is the only way in and I persevere. I check out the two rooms I can get to, but there is no-one.

 

Hello!

 

There is no reply. I am actually three minutes late, having had to find a wheelchair accessible route around a flooded subway. I told everyone I would be here for this second consultation, but there is no one waiting. I roll as far as I can towards the sound of voices and call out again. Nothing. There are steps at each end of the entrance hall.

I wait, I call. Eventually I decide to leave.

 

A staff member strolls in and says that the meeting is not in the accessible room we used last time, but up a flight of stairs. It is suggested that I should be able to get there and a second person joins in the process of persuasion. These two women volunteer three absent men to lift my powerchair. They volunteer one to make a ramp for a steep flight of six steps in a small space. Several other badly informed access suggestions are offered. They are unsafe, undignified and unworkable and I refuse.

The ladies make it plain they find me uncooperative.

 

I am persuaded around to the outside right of the building to discover small steps and flights of steps not navigable in a powerchair. I am then led around the outside to the left, to further flights of steps I cannot navigate. At the top of the steps a man joins the ladies for a conversation while I am left waiting. At one point I hear him say no, the lawn is waterlogged; I can see that for myself.

It is cold. One of the women comes to suggest that I try the right again. At my less than enthusiastic response she walks away. I have had enough of the farce. Disappointed and offended, I roll home.

 

Later I get a phone call. The word apology is mentioned followed by the accusation that I was late; the speaker sugests that the inaccessible room is justified by my being late (three minutes), and the allegation that no one was certain I would be there. It is backed up by the assertion that since a lot of people in wheelchairs do get out to climb stairs it was not unreasonable to assume that I would too.

Considering the fuss I have been making about having an accessible meeting room, I wonder on what grounds the speaker feels justified in holding this preposterous opinion.

 

Since no-one told him I was there, the man making the phone call (same man who called the meeting), does not actually accept any fault, repeating that the meeting started on time and I was late.

I heard the apology word but I cannot accept it, I reject the guilt he tries to lay on me. This feels so much like the behaviour of an abuser blaming a victim and I refuse to be the victim.

 

Who or what kind of

apology

leaves such a bad stain?

How sincere is an offered

apology

delivered as a command?

How valuable is the word

apology

backed up with accusation?

 

How much are empty

words worth?

Keywords: access issues,attitudes,disability,disability equality,poetry,wheelborne