A well known restaurant in Plymouth’s Barbican housed in a building associated with an even better known alcoholic drink that bears the city’s name and goes well with tonic water and lime offers disabled patrons the services of a special lift. It’s one of those without a cabin (i.e. when leaning against the wall, clothes or skin get dragged and potentially trapped between the moving and static elements of the contraption) and once settled within, the occupier has to push the ‘up’ or ‘down’ button for the whole duration of the journey. All of that is fine considering the alternative (for me: bum-shuffle up a flight of stairs in public – see Achilles – take 2).
However, the lack of consideration about how we get in and out of the lift is a little annoying. Using two crutches means that I haven’t got a free hand unless I balance on one crutch and one leg while swinging open the heavy door. On the way into the lift, it’s not so bad: a case of positioning oneself advantageously and applying technique (see Achilles – take 3) with force. On the way out, the door has too much of a ferocious closing mechanism for me to swing it open and prevent it from hitting my face on its return journey by ramming my crutch into the floor in good time and position. Instead, I applied my shoulder to overcome the door’s initial inertia, only to stumble, once it gave way more easily, with a clutter behind the chair of a startled diner. Not very dignified at all. More importantly: it could have hurt or worse had I not managed to stay on all three (two crutches and one leg).
I can’t imagine how much more difficult this is in a wheelchair (must ask someone with experience soon).
The situation is no better at my workplace, with the exception of Plymouth University library: Here we have a lift for the disabled that opens the door automatically when arriving at the destination. Just like a ‘normal’ lift. Bravo for design! Safe! So easy to make me feel considered and smile!
P.S. When the term ‘lift for the disabled’ is shortened to ‘disabled lift’ I used to consider it lazy language. Come to think of it, it may be an apt and mildly ironic expression coined by those in the know.