Accessible attitudes

 Many non-disabled people know that disability access legislation exists - and therefore assume I have access to wherever I need to go. As many disabled people will tell you, the reality is very different - to the point that I never assume I'll access anywhere new (I blogged more about that in "Aren't most places accessible" blog post and "But is it accessible? blog post " - I'll stop linking to other relevant posts before I distract myself from what I was trying to say!

My new office is really accessible: the main sign-in board is low enough for me to write on easily, my office is on the ground floor, near a clean accessible toilet (that I have never seen anything else stored in), there are 2 lifts (if I am ever upstairs and one breaks, I have a second option!!), and the receptionists/building manager deliver any parcels right into my office. I can reach the hot-water dispenser and make myself hot drinks while sat down too.

But accessibility isn't always about structure and facilities. Often the key thing is attitude. Today I want to share a positive example of when an attitude makes all the difference in accessibility.

My office is in a big building. My company is just one of many, and I am just one of even more staff going in and out. 

I recently had to go to the building manager's office. He usually keeps his door open so he can be reached easily by anyone who needs him. It turns out that his office has an extra wide doorway with 2 narrower-than-standard doors. Only one door was open - the other was to heavy, and my chair couldn't fit through the single door. So I sat in the corridor and leaned through to speak to him. It wasn't a problem. It's totally normal to have to lean and speak round a corner where I can't get past something. I didn't think anything more about it.

A few days later I visited his office again - this time both doors were open and I could waltz in unhindered. I commented on it. He said "Yes, I'm trying to always do that now". And then we got on with the topic I'd come about.

It was....kinda surreal. It is extremely rare to find that without me asking, someone actively changes their habits to make something more accessible for me. And even rarer that they do so without ever mentioning my disability or showing me how good their access-creation was. 

He noticed an issue and changed his behaviour to resolve it. Not just 'I'll open the second door whenever she wants to come in' but 'I'll make sure it's always open so everyone can come and go as they need to'.  He didn't even seem to think he'd done anything remotely noteworthy. 

This attitude means that even if problems arise, I know the building manager will quickly seek out practical solutions without batting an eyelid. This makes me feel incredibly welcome, and unspeakably safe.

I think I found the best possible place for my business to call home.