Sometimes, attitudes & behaviour need to catch up with the law

Last week I went to a friend’s wedding party. It was held in the basement health club that was his own small business. I used the elevator to get down to basement level. He half complained about how he had been obliged by the law to spend a fortune for his small business fitting the elevator a year earlier. Because I was the first person to use it, he boasted it was my personal £25,000 lift! Fortunately, all the staff at his club had been trained how to operate it with its special key.

I say “fortunately” because I can’t help contrasting this favourable experience with many others I have had over recent years. I do not exaggerate when I say that more often than not elevators, inclinators, or stairlifts (that the law requires businesses to have in order to comply with access requirements) cannot be used because a) the staff don’t know how to use them, or b) the equipment is in a state of disrepair, often out-of-order.

The result is that I have often had to hang about waiting for someone to figure things out. Or frequently, I end up telling employees how to operate their own machinery!

At a hotel I was at recently, the stairlift I was using broke down half way up the flight of stairs it was climbing. Staff eventually managed to lift me up the stairs from my room to the restaurant. But the stairlift remained out-of-order. The hotel was extremely apologetic, but the only solution it offered later that evening was to carry me down to my room in my chair.

Their attitude was akin to telling walking guests that the staircase was being re-built and they’d have to use a pole to climb up to their bedrooms after dinner. Attitudes and behaviour like that mean disabled people are often treated like second-class citizens. Sometimes the law is way ahead.