I’m just leaving north London.
I’d been invited by my lovely friend Mark C to a talk by a fella he likes.
It was at the Bloomsbury Theatre, which is a modern building not far from Kings Cross station.
It took me about 90 minutes to get there via public transport, which all went smoothly.
He’d checked to see it was accessible and it was …
I arrived and noted all the steps in, and the absence of a ramp.. there were notices on the windows boasting (‘ Step free access around the campus ‘ )but there was a lift from the pavement level, but it did look small. As I can’t go anywhere outside without my triride attached, that’s then part of me.. not something I can just leave outside on the pavement.
I squeezed diagonally into the small lift and pressed and held the button ( just like it says to do ). The door behind me closed.
Then the door behind me opened.
I took my finger off the button and then pressed and held it again.
The door between me closed.
Then it opened again.
I tried a further few times with the same result.
I pressed the Help button in the lift.
Where are you, the voice said.
I said loudly – I’m in a wheelchair at pavement level and I can’t go up.
I can’t hear you, the voice said.
I shouted the same again ( twice ) and the voice said someone would come.
A passer by asked if I needed help. He said ‘ that lift is a waste of time, isn’t it ?!’
A fella came and got in the lift with me and pressed the button to go up.
He asked the passer by to close the door firmly… at which point we moved up.
So the lift works fine for a wheelchair user that can get up and slam the door behind him/ her ( and them, of course ) Maybe they should put up a sign explaining that?
I’m then in a foyer with a reception and a cafe. I go into the narrow cafe. I get to the coffee bit and it’s shut. The cafe is that narrow that I have to reverse all the way out…?
I go to the reception and say I’m here to see the speaker, and ask where he’s on. She says it’s through those double doors behind you.
I said ‘ so it’s on this level and is accessible then?
She said yes.
I go to the doors and behind them are 2 flights of stairs. There’s a kind of stairlift mechanism on the side.
I go back to the receptionist and say ‘ how do I operate the lift? It’s not level access like you just said ‘. She looked as though despite working yards away from the stairs, that she had no idea they were there.
She says I can go in the regular lifts to the second floor.
I wait for a lift. When the door opens it’s a square one and no bigger than a metre in any direction. Given I’m a metre and a half long, that’s a problem that I can’t get around… so I decide to call it a day.
Now I have to get back to the pavement and am starting to feel trapped in a building where I can’t actually go anywhere.
I ask the same receptionist to help me with the lift down to the pavement, since I’m one of those wheelchair people who can’t jump out to slam the door behind me, once in the lift.
The lift was down at pavement level and I’m a floor up. When I press the button to summon the lift, I can see that the door opens at pavement level… rather than brings the lift up to me.
The lady goes off for a while… and then comes back to say ‘ we have another lift over there, through the ( one metre wide ) cafe ( that’s not open ).
She and a security guard move stuff and open doors so I can get to the lift… which does actually work and I can fit into ( just ).
Now I’m back on the Tube.. on the way home.
It’s raining and I wonder how wet I’ll get on the way back.
That was a Live and Learn, yet again.
Essentially take no notice of what people tell you about Accessibilty, and believe nothing until you actually get there.
It happens to me a lot.