Aston University: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Masters Edition

And we’re back again with the “University as a Disabled Student” chat, possibly for the last time. Back when I finished my undergraduate degree, I did a “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Surprising” blog post on accessibility at my undergraduate university (Brunel University London) which seemed to be really well received. With that in mind and given that I went to a different university for my (now completed) Masters degree, I thought I’d redo the post thinking about the accessibility at my Masters University. So here it is, the good, the bad and the ugly of accessibility at Aston University.

The Good

Well let’s start on a good foot. From my very first interaction with them as an applicant, the  Enabling Team seemed like they were actually committed to making a difference to the students they supported, rather than just paying lip service and sounding like they care (something I was used to from other institutions). I remember when I first saw my potential accommodation and was asked if I’d need any specific adaptations on top of what was already in the room. I said “oh, [insert adaptation here] would be good if you could try” and was told “you’re saying you need it, it will happen, no try about it”. That commitment to getting me what I requested was refreshing and not something I was used to hearing. The accommodation also had more accessibility adaptations than I’d previously seen or heard of at other universities, things such as ceiling hoists and a dog spend pen for assistance dogs. I know these are probably adaptations that should be in every university accommodation as standard, but again it was just refreshing to see them included in the accommodation at Aston. The other plus point about the Enabling Team is that, once my support package was in place, I was emailed a copy of the accommodations/support we had decided I would receive. This is not something I remember receiving a copy of at my previous university and, whilst it seems like a small thing, it really put my mind at rest knowing I had a copy of what I was entitled to, which I could refer to if I ever had issues with my disability being accommodated whilst I was studying at Aston. And I’m not the only one who’s had such good, personal service from the Enabling Team, my friend Becca also said she found it really easy to get into touch with the person in charge of her support plan if there was ever an issue. That personal touch and reachability is one of the good things about having a smaller Enabling Team.

The other good thing was that I felt like the Disabled Students Officer had a lot more involvement in changing things than at my previous university. Of course, that could be an issue of perspective, since for most of my time there I WAS the Disabled Students Officer (I took the role in November until roles changed in July). And by now everyone knows I will just involve myself in making a change to accessibility and the lives of the disabled community, whether you ask for my involvement or not!

In terms of more physical accessibility adaptations, Becca mentioned an ‘all singing all dancing’ accessible toilet by the Great Hall on the upper ground floor. This isn’t something I’ve ever used but Becca says it has an automatic door, an easy flush toilet, hoist, shower and changing bed, which all sounds pretty accessible to me! The only downside is that it’s only accessible to those who have their university cards programmed to open the automatic doors throughout the university, and not everyone’s card is programmed to do that.

The library also has a number of height adjustable desks on different floors in the main area so that those who need height adjustable desks can also study with friends. Again, these aren’t something I ever used but Becca said they were quickly repaired in the past when they broke down and were also accompanied by large signage reminding students to give priority for those desks to wheelchair users (signage which, crucially, was actually followed).

The Bad

Now onto the bad stuff, there were multiple instances of broken lifts encountered by myself and my friends, both in the university accommodation and in the university itself. Now of course people can say “well lifts break, at least there are several so you can just use another one and take a different route”. That’s all well and good but, whether it’s a case of not being able to access a room or having to take a longer route, that’s energy and time that disabled students have to factor in which non-disabled students do not, not to mention that those routes often involve going outside in the usually rainy weather. And this isn’t just the odd occurrence, these issues happen on multiple occasions. There were also ALWAYS LONG L-O-N-G queues for the lifts. I know invisible disabilities exist and there WERE 7 floors so I assume no one wants to take the stairs to the 7th floor, but still these queues always seemed excessive even accounting for all of that. Becca told me, that as a wheelchair user and fresher living on the 12th floor, she would have to leave her flat 25 minutes before lectures to avoid being late whereas her flatmates could leave 5 or 10 minutes before the lecture. I don’t think I need to spell out for you that that is a vast and unreasonable difference in times. The lifts also had signage saying to give priority to those with mobility issues, which effectively meant I could queue jump, but I always felt bad and like I was being judged for queue jumping so I rarely did.

There were also poorly designed disabled toilets, like the one pictured below with a large space between the toilet roll holder and the actual toilet (yes I know about transfer space but the toilet roll holder could have been on the wall beside the disabled toilet instead of on the opposite wall). Design issues like these often make me dread using bathrooms, which is kind of a problem when the bathroom pictured below is next to the Psychology Research labs where I spent entire days almost 5 days a week for parts of my Masters degree. There was also a specific computer room for the use of Cognitive Neuroscience MSc (my degree) students, which had a keypad so only we could enter. However, the keypad was positioned up way too high for me as a wheelchair user to reach. This is despite the room being newly opened when I joined my course and the university likely knowing a wheelchair user was going to be using that room, given that I’d made my disability clear on my application and had only applied in July for a September start. And even if you DON’T know a disabled student will be using the room immediately when it is opened, make it accessible anyway in the idea that a disabled student will use it at some point!

A bathroom. A toilet roll dispenser is visible on the left hand side and a toilet is half visible on the right hand side. There is a large space between the two which is filled by a bin and means that a wheelchair user cannot reach the toilet roll from a seated position

The Ugly

Now for the uglier side of things. I’m quite privileged (is that the right way to phrase it?) that a lot of the worst of Aston’s accessibility issues weren’t things I personally experienced but more issues I heard about through my role as Disabled Students Officer. A lot of what I heard was the same problems from different students across many schools within the university. This was the most frustrating part because it was OBVIOUS the university weren’t learning, or even attempting to learn, from all the issues I was bringing forward as Disabled Students Officer and all the mistakes they were making. These were issues like not adhering to students Individual Learner Agreements (i.e. the accommodations and changes to assessments that a specific student was entitled to on account of their disability). This left the students I spoke to worried about how, or even if, they would complete their degrees. I cannot tell you the frustration that I feel when I realise that a student who could do well in their degree may not get a degree at all simply because the university will not accommodate them correctly. Similar to that, there were issues about information regarding entitlement to alternative assessments not being passed onto the disabled student. This meant the student was stressing and struggling to revise for an exam they never actually had to take. This was obviously extra stress and unnecessary work and effort for the student, which is even more frustrating when you understand that some disabilities are energy based and may mean allocating specific energy to specific tasks at the expense of others. Therefore this lack of communication about alternative assessments could have left the student with not enough energy to do basic tasks like caring for themself.

When given the opportunity to respond, Hannah Bartlett (Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion) provided the following statement on behalf of Aston University:

“While we are pleased to hear about the positive experiences that disabled students have had of our dedicated Enabling Team, we are always receptive to feedback about what more we can do to support our community. We encourage students to let us know, via the Enabling Team at enablingteam@aston.ac.uk, or using the diversity@aston.ac.uk email address, of any issues around support, facilities or technology. We will address individual needs on a case by case basis.

With respect to teaching and learning, students are encouraged to contact the Enabling Team, who will discuss individual requirements. Recommended adjustments are shared with the student, Programme team and the Exams and Assessment teams. The Enabling Team will serve as a regular point of contact, helping to ensure that adjustments are implemented. Where students have needs above and beyond standard adjustments, specific requirements will be assessed and implemented on an individual basis. We encourage any students who feel that they are not currently receiving the support they need to contact The Enabling Team for confidential advice.”

Beyond this statement, Hannah also stated that she is very open to continuing a conversation and ongoing dialogue about these issues.

Soooooo, in conclusion, I think there are some things that Aston has done better than my previous university in terms of accessibility. But it is by no means perfectly accessible and there is CERTAINLY much more work to do, work that I hope to help with when I (hopefully) return for my PhD.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Blogger Recognition Award

I’ve been nominated for another blogger award! This time, Sara from Vivid n Stylish has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award. Thankyou Sara for this nomination.

For those who don’t know, the Blogger Recognition Award is a way of recognising all the hard work and effort that goes into blogging and celebrating those who put in the hard work. It isn’t as easy as everyone thinks!

Firstly, I’ll outline the rules of the tag. Then I’ll explain two reasons why I start blogging and two pieces of advice I have for other bloggers. Then I’ll answer the questions Sara has asked me, before asking my own questions and nominating some more bloggers to answer them.

Rules

  • Display the logo of the blogger recognition award.
  • Thank the blogger nominator.
  • Write something about bloggers’ recognition award.
  • Write two reasons why you started blogging.
  • Give two pieces of advice to your fellow bloggers.
  • Nominate 15 more bloggers for the blogger recognition award.
  • Notify each of your nominees that you have chosen them.

Two reasons why I started blogging

Well the first reason was because it was recommended to me. I wrote about the start of the blog in my first ever blog post . Long story short, the girls I was travelling with said they’d learned a lot about the issues I face as a disabled person over the course of the trip and encouraged me to start sharing my experiences in a blog. So I came home and that’s exactly what I did, sharing my first post in the October after the trip that summer. Secondly, it seemed like a good way to vent my frustrations with the ableist way society is set up and the barriers that are in my way as a disabled person.

Two pieces of advice for other bloggers

I actually discussed my advice for other bloggers in this blog post. However, if I was to pick two key pieces of advice, the first would be to find your “cornerstone”. By this I mean the one value or thing about your writing that you would never give up. The thing that makes it recognisable as your writing. For me that’s my honesty, if a post doesn’t brutally honest and raw and as those my friends can hear me saying it in their head, then I shouldn’t be putting my name to it. My second piece of advice would be don’t force content. You’ve probably read somewhere that you need to release x blog posts a week that are x number of words long for good SEO and “the algorithm” or something. But if you’re forcing out content you’re not interested in purely to meet these arbitrary numbers, your audience will be able to tell and they’ll likely stop reading. Focus on building a supportive readership that waits on every word you write, no matter when you release.

Questions I have to answer

  • How are you feeling about the achievements made by your blog?

It’s honestly mind-blowing, I really never expected it to reach the readership that it has or to give me the opportunities it has. However, the success it HAS achieved has shown me I still have so much I want to achieve when it comes to blogging and disability activism.

  • How much quantitative time do you put into the blog daily, writing, site maintaining, and social media visiting?

I honestly have no idea and I have no intention to start counting. I’ve never set specific time periods that I need to spend each week on creating content, and I think that’s to do with not forcing content, as I said in my advice. I only write or create content when I feel there is content I want to create.

  • What do you miss and/or cherish after the Pandemic?

I miss travelling and being busy. Whether that was visiting family or friends or heading to events and meetings. An “on the go” lifestyle was my standard and probably best for me. I can start to overthink if I have too much time to think.

  • What do you do to keep yourself calm, while things are not going your way?

I usually play very loud music and sing along. That or watching Mixed Martial Arts videos, those are usually videos which bring up good memories of going to events with friends and remind me there are better days ahead

Nominations

Jo Jo from JoJo’s Cup of Mocha

Alex from The VI Critic

Jess from Stuck In The Book

Claire from Our Favourite Jar

Helen from Dotted Pages

Ashley from Blabbing Ash

Thomas from TheDoubtingThomas

Artie Carden

Hope from The Hope Chronicles

Keith from On My Mind Today

Weird & Liberated

Shona from ShonaLouise.com

Carrie Ann Lightley

Emmagayle from Emmagayle Blogs

Ellie M from Ticking The List

Questions

  1. Who is one blogger that you think deserves more recognition? Shout them out here!
  2. What is one way I could easily recognise you? Maybe a piece of clothing or something you are known for saying?
  3. What is one underrated creative thing you think I should check out? whether that’s a Youtuber, a musician/band or a particular tv show, or maybe you have suggestions for all of them!

Once again, thanks to Sara for nominating me and I love forward to seeing how everyone answers my questions!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Sunshine Bloggers Award

I’ve been nominated for another blogger award! This time, Ellie – M from Ticking The List has nominated me for the Sunshine Bloggers Award. Thankyou Ellie for this nomination.

For those who don’t know, the Sunshine Bloggers Award is a way of bringing together the diverse and varied blogging community to support each other and get to know each other.

Firstly, I’ll outline the rules of the tag. Then I’ll answer the questions I’ve been asked, before nominating more bloggers and asking them some questions myself.

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award image in your post.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their posts.

Questions I have to answer

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?

That would be my girls’ holiday to Sicily. I actually wrote about it in my first ever blog post, but that’s basically where the girls I was travelling with said they’d learned a lot about the issues I face as a disabled person over the course of the trip and encouraged me to start sharing my experiences in a blog. So I came home and that’s exactly what I did, sharing my first post in the October after the trip that summer.

2. What kind of traveller are you?Adventure/relaxation/budget/luxury/don’t like to travel?

I prefer travelling to explore new places, like I did in that Sicily trip. I’d prefer to do more spontaneous trips where I just turn up and go wherever I fancy at the trop of a hat, but that’s more difficult to do when you have a disability.

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Milan for sure. I’m a sucker for Italian food and a glass of wine. And I really liked what I got to see of the culture and the city on the one-day layover I had there en route to Sicily.

4. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

Firstly, I would wish to have my dad back with us on Earth for just one day so I could say all the things I regret not saying. Secondly, I would wish for full accessibility for all disabled people (even if it may make my blog a bit redundant). I would also wish for security for those I love, financial security or whatever they need. The situation we’re currently in has made me realise how important those we love are.

5. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve been to?

Definitely Piazza Del Duomo in Milan. I’m not ashamed to say I almost cried when we stepped out of the metro station and I saw it for the first time.

6. If you could uninvent one thing, what would it be?

Steps/stairs! and I would put ramps everywhere, it would certainly make my life easier as a wheelchair user.

7. What is the most useful app you have on your phone?

Probably Google Maps as my sense of direction sucks. Failing that it’s the Trainline app. In the times when we can freely travel on trains it makes the process of train travel so much easier for me.

8. Who is your hero?

definitely my Mum. She’s the original invincible woman and the person I get all of my best traits from as far as I’m concerned.

9. What’s your favourite holiday?

By holiday here I’m assuming you mean like celebration? I’m going to answer it that way anyway. I would say Halloween because it’s close to my birthday so there are multiple reasons to celebrate.

10. What’s your karaoke song?

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen because it reminds me of a specific hilarious memory I have with my university friends.

11. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have 3 things with you, what would you choose?

One, my electric wheelchair so I could freely move around. 2. My Dermot Kennedy cd so I could keep calm during the isolation (the entire album is just chilled vibes) and of course my CD player so I could actually play the CD.

Nominations

Jo Jo from JoJo’s Cup of Mocha

Alex from The VI Critic

Jess from Stuck In The Book

Claire from Our Favourite Jar

Helen from Dotted Pages

Ashley from Blabbing Ash

Thomas from TheDoubtingThomas

Artie Carden

Hope from The Hope Chronicles

Keith from On My Mind Today

Weird & Liberated

Questions

  1. What do you consider your biggest blogging achievement?
  2. Who is one music artist you recommend I listen to?
  3. Who’s another blogger you think I should check out?
  4. Where’s one place you want to visit?
  5. Where’s one place in your country that you recommend I visit?
  6. What’s the one thing that’s top of your bucket list?
  7. What was your first blog post? (on your first blog if you’ve had multiple)
  8. Who would be your top dinner party guest?
  9. What is your biggest fear?
  10. What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone?
  11. What is your favourite quote?

Once again, thanks to Ellie for nominating me and I love forward to seeing how everyone answers my questions!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

A Week In Lockdown: Disabled Blogger Edition

I had planned to give you a Day In The Life of my new life in my own flat up here in Birmingham. However, we’ve basically been in some form of lockdown or restrictions since I moved, so I wouldn’t be able to show you my average day, and I have no idea when that’s likely to change. So instead I’ve decided to give you a week of life in lockdown: Disabled Blogger Edition.

Monday

I set my alarm for 7:30 every morning. Once I’m up, first things first, breakfast and most importantly COFFEE. This is usually toast and 2 cups of black filter coffee in my travel mug. Yes I drink out of travel mugs in my house, there’s less chance of spilling then than if I carry an open mug in my walker. Also yes I said 2 cups, but that’s mostly  because my full French press fills 2 travel mugs so if I didn’t have 2 cups at once it would go cold, and cold coffee is a travesty. I usually watch YouTube whilst I eat and caffeinate. My favourites at the moment are Kara & Nate, Simon Wilson or, if I need my MMA fix before the weekend, Dan Hardy and the Raptors at Full Reptile. Once breakfast was eaten it was time for something I’ve labelled “house pick up” which is basically putting dirty clothes away into the washing bag and putting things back in the place they’re supposed to live as opposed to wherever I just threw them the previous day.  then I quickly updated the blog view statistics and map, since I’d hit a new country the previous day.

It was then time to head into a meeting about my potential PhD opportunity and where we were at in that process. Let’s just say it was not the news I hoped for, delays and funding issues have meant I probably wont start anytime soon so it’s more important than ever to find a job. Speaking of jobs, I usually flag all job-related emails and alerts that arrive past a certain time and then  go through the emails in in the morning and apply to those which are appropriate for me, so that’s what I did next. Specifically I wanted to finalise one application (but it turned out the role had been withdrawn before I could submit my application) and make notes for a paragraph to be included in another application.

Once the job hunt was done for the day, I moved onto creating featured header images for some upcoming blog posts (which you will either see soon or may have already seen depending on when this post is released. This creative burst was RUDELY interrupted by a fire alarm in my building. However that did mean I got to leave my building for like 10 minutes and see fire engines, which is entertainment I guess. Once we were let back in I decided to have a snack/break since I realised I hadn’t had one all day.

Mondays are also what’s known as “quiz night” because there’s Mastermind followed by Only Connect and University Challenge, all of which are shows I regularly watched with my parents when I lived at home. However this week there was, inexplicably, no Mastermind which was baffling, do they not realise the importance of quiz night? I did my washing up between shows and dried up afterwards. Then it was time to update my to do list whilst I sat down with a glass of wine before bed. I aim to get to bed before midnight but it’s not often that happens.

Tuesday

And so we move to Tuesday. After the usual coffee, breakfast and house pick up routine, It was time to continue the job search. This meant going through my email for job alerts that I had flagged yesterday and making applications or setting up careers meetings if the role required a longer application that I needed a bit more guidance with. I then quickly update the blog view statistics and map (since we hit ANOTHER new country) and took a photo for this blog post.

It was then back to the job hunt, filling in forms in relation to a job application in preparation for a Zoom interview (my first Zoom interview). I also wrote out a paragraph or section that I wanted to include in another application, in preparation for a careers meeting the next morning. Then it was time to switch focus to the blog again and edit some Instagram captions, before I settled in for a late night making notes from my recording of the previous weeks 3 hour Aston Apollo (a scheme and group of workshops I have recently joined, run my Aston University where I completed my Masters)  meeting, in advance of the next workshop the next day. Tuesday was essentially a preparation day for what was a VERY busy Wednesday.

Wednesday

As I said, Wednesday was busy. After the standard coffee, breakfast and house pick up routine, I resumed the job hunt by checking my flagged emails and making applications to the relevant roles. Then it was time for my careers meeting to discuss that lengthy paragraph or section that I wanted to input into one of the more complex applications I was making.

Once that meeting was over, I decided to order a Greggs lunch since this time was likely to be my only break all day and I wanted to well prepared and fed ready for a long afternoon of meetings, also, who can resist a Greggs?! But my lunch “break” wasn’t really a break because I decided to use that time to quickly update the blog view statistics and take another photo to accompany this post. I then had a networking event between 1 and 2. I made some good connections which could prove useful for the blog in the future, which I was particularly happy about given that this was my first time joining an event with the specific aim of networking to improve and promote the blog, There was a bit of an awkward interruption in the middle of that networking event though, as some delivery service decided to abandon (literally knocked on the door, dumped it and left) a parcel which was not meant for me at my door. From there it was straight into the Aston Apollo meeting, this was sometimes a frustrating meeting as I felt I probably was not asking the right questions, but I guess that’s the process of growth and trying to build something right?

After all my meetings were done, I redelivered the abandoned parcel to its intended recipient (someone else within my building) and made dinner. Following all of that I just sort of… stopped. I think the combination of bad news I’d gotten earlier that day, the long day of meetings, the lack of sleep and being overwhelmed by the struggle to find a job, I just sort of broke down crying and wondering whether everything would ever sort itself out and when that would be.

Thursday

Following the previous day’s little emotional wobble, It was time to pick myself up again on Thursday. Following the usual coffee, breakfast and house pick up routine, I checked my email for any job alert emails and opportunities, as well as checking various job sites and signing up for more alerts. I then took a quick moment to update the blog view statistics and take another photo for this blog post.

I then spent some time applying for jobs from the ones suggested in the alert emails I had previously flagged, as well as finalising registrations for agencies which may be able to help me find a job. I spent most of my day at a virtual careers fair, and I must say it was my first time attending something like that virtually (as it probably is for most people) but I have to say it felt like the full experience, includes stalls set up in rows in an exhibition hall, but just…virtual. I then took some time to organise my food shop a week in advance. I wouldn’t normally do it that far in advance but, as someone who’s moderate risk for COVID 19 and lives alone and thus has no one to go out for her, I kind of NEED a slot and I wanted to avoid the prospect panic buyers having taken all the delivery slots.

When all that done, my evening started by listening to Frank Turner livestream (more on why I love Frank here) whilst I ate dinner and washed up. I ended the evening by editing an upcoming blog post, or maybe it will have been released by the time you see this (I won’t tell you which post, no spoilers here).

Friday

And sooooooooooooooooo we hit Friday, after the usual wake up, coffee, breakfast and house pick up routine, I started my day with blogging tasks. This meant updating the views statistics and updating my brand-new landing page (which you can check out here). I also requested some feedback on a possible publication date and promotion strategy for the blog post I’d edited the previous day. I then followed up on some work I was doing on my  Instagram earlier in the week by continuing to edit my captions to match up with the new strategy I am trying. I also took another photo for this blog post.

Then it was time to switch tack and focus on the job hunt. This, as usual, meant going through my flagged alerts and applying for relevant roles. It also meant replying to emails and making enquiries for those roles where I needed more information. I also photographed some extra documents needed for a specific job application and sent them over to the relevant person, as well as organising some documents ready for a meeting on Monday morning.

Of course, I also did the boring stuff like washing up, showering, paying my electricity bill (which is my only non-direct debit and therefore the only bill I have to REMEMBER to pay) and updating the  shopping order I had set up yesterday.

Saturday

IT’S THE WEEKEND.  So of course I woke up late. I did SET a 9:30 alarm, but I switched it off since I don’t tend to sleep very well and figured I could do with catching up. That meant that I woke up a little before midday, I then completed some surveys on the survey apps I use for extra cash, before having my coffee and “breakfast” (can you call it breakfast if it’s after midday?). I then went through the house pick up routine, which included putting away the stuff I washed up last night. I then washed up the things from breakfast and cleaned the bathroom (something I do weekly) whilst I left the washing up to dry. Once the bathroom was clean and the washing up at least drier, I finished drying up and put everything away, before cleaning the kitchen (again a weekly occurrence) once everything was clear.

Then it was time for the email alert check for new jobs I could apply for, unfortunately there were no new applications I could make this time. I then threw myself into blog promotion on social media for a little while and started hunting for Christmas gift ideas (kind of important now it’s nearing the middle of November.

Anyone who knows me knows that Saturday night is fight night with the UFC event on every weekend, and this Saturday was no different. I ordered my (now near obligatory) takeaway and  worked on another upcoming blog post whilst I waited for it to arrive. Once that had arrived and been eaten I made my fight night caffeine (yes I said caffeine, these events finish at around 3am at the earliest) and sat down to enjoy the fights, but not before taking a picture for my Instagram and this blog post. I also made notes on the content for this blog post in between fights.

Sunday

Post Fights Sunday  is always a little slower due to the late finish of the fights. I obviously started my day with breakfast and coffee and house pick up. Then I took the bins out and hoovered and polished (something I do fortnightly rather than weekly like the other cleaning, mostly because hoovering is a pain in the butt). Then it was back to job hunting and the cycle of checking my emails for job alerts and making applications for relevant roles. Then I moved onto blog tasks, which on this day included updating the views statistics and reading a post which was recommended by a fellow blogger. I also managed to finish writing that blog post I started whilst waiting for my fight night takeaway to arrive the previous night (a little advanced warning: that post turned into quite the essay!).

Once that post was finished it was time for dinner, doing the washing up and grabbing a shower before I settled down with a couple episodes of Mindhunter on Netflix and fell asleep on the couch (oops!).

If this seemed a little boring and repetitive that’s because it is, and it’s just as boring living it as it is to read. But for those of us who are more vulnerable, this isolation is often LITERALLY a matter of life and death. So for anyone who’s flouting the rules under the whole “it won’t affect me it only affects the disabled and elderly” PLEASE PLEASE wear your masks, isolate, social distance and do whatever is necessary wherever you live. I have an interesting, event filled life that I’d like to get back to at some point, just the same as anyone else.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Job Hunting as a Disabled Person

As a recent Masters graduate who’s not long moved into her own flat. The next thing on my “being an adult” list is getting a job. So I thought I’d give you a little insight into some of the things I have to consider most when job hunting as a disabled person.

What I Want or am Qualified to Do

I don’t think this part is much different to job hunting as an able-bodied person. As someone with a First-Class Bachelors degree and a Distinction at Masters level (allow me the single brag, I worked my butt off), the qualification part isn’t often a concern. However, I still need my PhD for some of the research roles I want. My problem is that I’d quite like to be a Support Worker in some capacity, at least through my PhD. And I regularly hold back from applying for roles where more personal or physical caring is required because I wonder how I’d be seen at an interview. I wonder if employers will see past my disability and see how I can provide support to another individual whilst also needing accommodations myself. I understand that it may be a health and safety thing, but I know I’d be capable of providing support as long as I was physically and safely able to in some way.

What I Physically Can Do

Ah yes, while we’re here. We best talk physical limitations. Obviously I couldn’t do anything too strenuous or physical (involving lifting or the suchlike), but not because I couldn’t physically do it. More just because it would take me longer and wouldn’t fit into company ideals of getting as much done as possible. I also can’t do anything involving specific hand eye coordination because mine is SHOCKING.

So I’m most likely to be in some form of office role just because of the lack of strenuous physical demands. However, even there I’d need adaptation: An accessible location (i.e. city) to work in, an accessible building to work in, possibly an electronic desk, possibly certain kinds of accessibility software such as speech to text (depending on the role). These are the kind of adaptations I won’t mention until at least interview (unless I know from the job description they’ll be necessary).  This is just so I can fully understand the kind of adaptations I’ll need, to make me as good as possible at the role, before I ask for them.

Whilst we’re discussing what I can’t do in a role, how about we reverse it and think about what I as a disabled person can bring to a role? Adaptability: Lord knows we’re used to adapting to different situations as disabled people facing inaccessibility, and that adaptability comes in handy in an everchanging world. Perseverance: Again, I’m constantly used to working through or around issues as a disabled person, and that resilience and stubbornness to give up on a task will hopefully give me an extra edge when it comes to facing setbacks or difficult tasks in the workplace. But I think the most important thing I can bring is perspective, particularly when it comes to products. Most products are marketed at an able-bodied audience and so the disabled customer doesn’t often come into the conversation. I believe that would change if there was a disabled employee at the table to discuss these kinds of things.

Travel

The other aspect that keeps coming up in my job hunt is travel. Thinking about the length of a commute, and how that’s likely to be longer than the same commute for an able-bodied person. Wondering if a commute is even possible and if the train station near my prospective workplace is  accessible, alongside wondering if the workplace is accessible. THEN there’s the fact that some roles require a full drivers licence (which I am not LEGALLY ALLOWED to possess) without stating why it’s necessary to have a drivers licence. The number of times I’ve found a role I want with a feasible commute, to discover I’m essentially not allowed to commute because the role requires a full drivers licence without an obvious reason why, is INFURIATING.

Interview

One unexpected plus I’ve found is regarding being put forward to the interview stage for a role. On some applications I have seen the option to state that you are a disabled applicant. You then explain a little bit about your disability and adaptations you may need at the interview stage. The application then says that those who meet the main necessary criteria for the role and have identified themselves as disabled will be progressed to an automatic interview under what I believe is called a “Two Ticks” system. I’m not sure how widespread the scheme is as I’ve only seen it on Research Assistant applications at universities I’ve applied to, but I’m certainly intrigued to learn a little more about how the scheme works.

Update: I’ve now learned some more the Two Ticks scheme. Firstly it’s now called Disability Confident and has 3 tiers. The first two tiers (Committed and Employer) are self assessed as Disability Confident whereas the top tier in the scheme (Leader) has to be assessed as Disability Confident by an external body.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed my initial thoughts on job hunting as a disabled person. I hope it shows a need for open mindedness when looking at job applications or designing job descriptions. You may be losing out on the perfect candidate because they’re disabled and you’ve made the role seem inaccessible to them, when in reality it could be accessible with some thought and adaptation. I hope it also shows that disabled people want to do non office-based roles and those roles should be accessible where possible.

No doubt I’ll update this as I continue the job-hunting process.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

House Hunting as a Disabled Person

Back in July, I finally made the big move. Moving out out (not just into student accommodation)into my own flat in Birmingham! As a wheelchair user, there were a fair few considerations I had to make when deciding where to live. So I thought I’d discuss a few of those considerations.

Social Housing vs Private Rent

The first thing for me to consider was whether wanted to live in council/housing association housing or if I wanted to privately rent (of course buying is also technically an option but it wasn’t financially an option for me. This consideration felt like balancing the fact that council housing could be the more accessible option, with a lift, ramp or wet room more likely, against the “stigma” that I perceived around council housing, as some kind of government handout and feeding into the “scrounger” narrative around disabled people. For me, I didn’t want to be seen as disabled or in receipt of “special” housing, so I chose to privately rent. An odd thing to do, making a decision to avoid feeding into a narrative that I KNOW is false anyway, but that’s just how much these stigmas and narratives can affect disabled people. Anywayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy I’m getting side-tracked.

Location

Next up was location. Obviously most people choose to live somewhere because of school, work or family. Similarly, I chose to live in Birmingham because that’s where I was, pre pandemic, completing my Masters degree and is where I hope to continue onto a PhD. Then it came to choosing where in Birmingham to live. I chose the centre since I was aware that I’d need to be in the centre for university and most things anyway and that public transport from the outer boroughs of Birmingham could potentially be inaccessible. Of course I had to consider the effect that had in possibly increasing the price.

Price

As I was saying, the price. I knew that, for a section of time at least, I’d be surviving purely off my disability benefits (Personal Independence Payment) which those in the disability community in the UK will know, REALLY isn’t much. I was lucky in that I had savings I could use and could pay some rent in advance to give me some time to get on my feet with a job. However, the limited income I have as a disabled person certainly impacted what I could afford.

House Type

Then there was choosing what kind of building I wanted to live in, whether that was a house, flat or bungalow. I decided to go with either a flat or a bungalow as both of those would be on one level which made more sense for me as a wheelchair user, rather than having to navigate stairs in a house.

 Access Needs

And of course there were my specific access needs to think about within the flat or flat building. I ideally wanted a ground floor flat as that would be easier than having to rely on a lift which could have broken down at any point. The biggest area of contention was the bathroom as that is where I need the most adaptations. There’s always debate about a bathroom with a bath or one with a shower, and IDEALLY I would have liked a bathroom with a roll in shower or wet room, but they’re practically unheard of in private renting, so I ended up with a shower over the bath. And this is where the idea of compromise as a disabled person comes in, what do we class as an acceptable level of accessibility? What is the sort of situation we can “make work” with accessibility aids? In my case I made the shower over the bath situation work with a suction grab rail and a new shower seat (set up seen in the picture below).

A black and white image of a bath which contains a bath seat with 4 horizon slats. There is a grab rail positioned on the wall directly behind the seat. It is positioned on the wall on a diagonal slant. The bath tap is in view on the far bottom left of the photo

Door Dimensions

Aaaaaaaaaah door dimensions, the biggest bane of this entire process. As a wheelchair user I need to know door dimensions so I know whether or not my chair can fit in, because obviously if not the flat is a no go. It was ridiculous how many times I asked for these dimensions to get the response of “standard door dimensions” and then be told someone would take measurements and get back to me when I asked for specific numbers. This kind of information should be gathered as standard when listing a property and then made available on the website or any listing AS STANDARD.

Extended Process

House hunting as a disabled person is also an extended process compared to how I assume it would be for an able-bodied person. I can’t just see a property I like and make a bid. I have to see something, make enquiries and then wait. I have to wait on non-negotiable aspects like door dimensions, things I shouldn’t HAVE to wait on. And the likelihood is, by the time I have the information I need, an able-bodied person has submitted a bid for the flat I want and had it accepted.

Pandemic

Oh and THEN you add into the mix that I made the smart choice of deciding to make this big life move IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC. That meant that in person viewings were not an option, something that is kind of key as a wheelchair user to make sure my chair ACTUALLY fits in the place I just paid for. This meant that even though I  had the door dimensions I  didn’t know if my wheelchair fitted into my  new flat until I’d officially moved in, which was anxiety inducing with a capital A and a capital. Add to that the fact that, as someone with cerebral palsy, I’m considered high risk for COVID 19 and as such had been limiting my social contact. Limiting social contact is obviously difficult to do when you’re moving and need to go into an office to sign papers. Overall the pandemic added another layer of difficult to an already complicated situation.

The Perfect Accessible House and House Hunt

With all this talk of the many considerations when house hunting as a disabled person you’re probably saying: So tell us what the perfect accessible house and house hunt would be then! Well the perfect accessible house depends on the individual but for me it’s: A flat (which I have) on the ground floor (which it is) in the centre of a big city (which it is) with a wet room bathroom (which it does not have)

As for making the house hunt accessible, that’s pretty simple from my experience: PUT. ACCESSIBILITY. INFORMATION. ON. THE. LISTINGS. SO I CAN ACCESS ALL THE INFORMATION I NEED TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT A PROPERTY LIKE EVERY. BODY. ELSE. oh was I yelling there? oops sorry about that.

And after all those considerations, I finally have my own flat in Birmingham to call mine all mine! I hope you enjoyed this insight into house hunting as a disabled wheelchair user in a pandemic.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Hallotober Blog Tag

Image Credit: Jordanne @ Life of a Glasgow Girl

ANOTHER blog tag, time to tell you more about me then I guess ! This time I was tagged to do the Hallotober tag  by Claire from Our Favourite Jar. This tag was originally created by Jordanne from The Life of a Glasgow Girl , so of course credit must go to the original creator for creating this tag in the first place. Now, onto my post ! Firstly I’ll outline the rules of the award, then I’ll answer the 13 questions Claire asked me, nominate 13 more bloggers to continue the tag and ask them the same questions I was asked (with one question being different).

Rules  

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link to their post 
  • Put the rules at the beginning or after introduction
  • Answer the 13 questions 
  • Tag 13 people to do the tag 
  • Delete Question 13, add a new number one question of your own
  • You are free to use the tag image somewhere in the post 

My Answers 

1. What’s your favourite thing about October? 

Definitely my birthday! Everyone loves their birthday right? Mine’s actually only a couple of days before Halloween (the 29th).

2. Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?

I don’t specifically make a big deal of celebrating Halloween, but all Halloween parties basically become my birthday party. So I end up celebrating Halloween as a default.

3. What’s your favourite horror movie?

I don’t really have one. Horror movies tend to involve jump scares (from the ones I’ve seen) and Cerebral Palsy startle reflex (which I’ve talked more about here) & jump scares don’t really mix, so I tend to avoid horrors as a genre.

4. Would you rather a cosy night in watching horrors or a big night out in a costume?

A big night out, but not in costume. You’re more likely to nice “gothy/rock n roll” dresses (like the one in the outfit below)  heading out for my birthday celebrations.


5. Which has been your most favourite costume to date?

I don’t think I’ve ever actually worn a costume for Halloween. As I’ve said in the question above, my “Halloween” outfit is much more likely to look like the picture below.

Image Credit: Lizzie Iles


6. Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch? 

Bobbing for apples I think, mostly because that’s the game I’d be more successful at! My hand eye coordination issues mean that trying to pin anything on anything is guaranteed to be an absolute flop.


7. How do you celebrate Halloween? 

With a birthday night out at a Halloween rock night hosted at one of the rock bars near wherever I’m living that particular year (university means I move pretty regularly). I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this year as the bars will be heavily restricted.

8. What’s your least favourite horror? 

I vaguely remember watching bits of The Hills Have Eyes remake (I think it was that? I’ve watched so few horror films that I don’t even remember what they’re called) and it gave me nightmares for days. So I’d have to say that purely because I remember finding it REALLY creepy.

 
9. Do you have a favourite trick or treating memory? 

I don’t think so? This is that awkward moment where I admit I don’t actually ever remember going  trick or treating. The area I mostly grew up in was not really the sort of area that I remember as being good to go trick or treating in, and then by the time we’d moved out of there I kind of felt too old for trick or treating.


10. What’s your favourite thing about Halloween?

The fact that my birthday is so close to Halloween. It means that all the Halloween parties are basically readymade birthday parties for me without me having to organise anything.

11. Scary costume or Silly costume?

Silly costume definitely,  I’m that jumpy I’d probably scare MYSELF in a scary costume.

12. What’s your favourite Halloween candy?

Jellies, specifically Haribo’s, can I specifically say Haribo’s? the variety of all the different kinds of sweets just makes me feel like I’ve had more sweets than I actually have ha-ha!


13. Would you visit a haunted house at night?

No, definitely not. The jump scares involved in haunted houses means my startle reflex would have an absolute field day.

Since I was also tagged for this by Smelly Socks & Garden Peas, I’ll just add a quick extra point here answering the new question that they added to the tag.

 14. Do you believe in ghosts?

I guess? I have a really specific thing about what I do and don’t believe in when it comes to the paranormal. I do believe that the spirits of those we’ve loved and lost can come back to visit us, moving things around rooms or leaving signs and stuff like that, but I’m really quite sceptical these days about “ghost hunting shows” like Most Haunted that try to prove the existence of ghosts.

My Questions 

  1. What’s your favourite thing about October?
  2.  Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?
  3. What’s your favourite horror movie?
  4. Would you rather a cosy night in watching horrors or a big night out in a costume?
  5. Which has been your most favourite costume to date? 
  6. Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch? 
  7. How do you celebrate Halloween? 
  8. What’s your least favourite horror? 
  9. Do you have a favourite trick or treating memory? 
  10. What’s your favourite thing about Halloween?
  11. Scary costume or Silly costume? 
  12. What’s your favourite Halloween candy?
  13. 13. Horror movie recommendation those who want to avoid jump scares (I.e. me)?

Nominations 

Glen Parmenter

Jess from Stuck in the Book

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Fam Travels

Weird n Liberated

Ellie – Mae from Ticking the List

Joey from Concealed Voices

Shona Louise Cobb

Keith from On My Mind Today

Brendan from Blind Injustice

Alex from The VI Critic

Jo Jo from Jo Jo’s Cup of Mocha

Hope Chilinda

Ash from Blabbing Ash

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me and my thoughts around all things Halloween and October.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Golden Bloggerz Award

I’ve been nominated for ANOTHER award! This time I was nominated for the Golden Bloggerz Award by Keith from On My Mind Today and I am very grateful for the nomination. This award was originally created by Chris Kosto from Golden Bloggerz, so of course credit must go to the original creator for creating this award in the first place. Now, onto my nomination! Firstly I’ll outline the rules of the award, then I’ll tell you 3 things about myself, answer the 5 questions Keith asked me and then ask 5 questions of my own and nominate 10 more bloggers who I believe deserve this award. 

Rules  

  1. Place the award logo on your blog.
  2. Mention the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and place a link to their website.
  4. Mention the award’s creator & provide a link too.
  5. Tell your audience 3 things about you.
  6. Nominate 10 – 20 people who deserve this award.
  7. Let your nominees know by messaging/commenting on their Social Media or their blog.
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions you want.
  9. Share 2-3 links to your best posts

3 Things About Me

1. I was originally born and (partly) raised in West Yorkshire

You wouldn’t know it from the sound of my accent anymore, or the fact that even those who’ve been with me this entire time only know me writing blogs from London or Birmingham. But I’m a Yorkshire gal and proud and will not hear ANY slander against Yorkshire.

2. Manchester United FC fan

I’m also a fan of Manchester United Football Club since childhood. Admittedly I’m not as much of a fan anymore because I just don’t watch football that much now. However, if you were to ask me who my team was, I’d probably say them.

3. It’s my dream to live abroad 

If I could have a job which allowed me to live anywhere but the UK I’d jump at the chance. I’d particularly love to live in Italy, but anywhere not in the UK is fine

My Answers 

1. How would you describe yourself?

I’m a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy. I’m also an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and rock music fan. I’m honest, to the point where it’s probably gotten me in trouble a bit, and I would do anything from my friends.

2. What is the most important life lesson you ever learned?

I think it’s a lesson about myself, the fact that I’m stronger than I believe, I’m invincible & I’ve been through enough now that I can get through anything .

3. How do you handle stressful situations?

I watch MMA, it connects me to the friends I’ve made through travelling to MMA shows and watching the sport so often. it’s also quite cathartic to watch other people punch each other in the face when you’re stressed!

4. Are you motivated by the same things now that you were ten years ago?

I don’t really know, 10 years ago I was only 14 so I don’t know if I was  thinking about specific motivations too much back then. But I do know I still want a PhD like I did back then.

5. What is your greatest unrealized goal?

Linked to my answer to the previous question, one goal I haven’t yet achieved is to get a PhD, I want to be Dr Dobson! (and I will be using my full title ALLLLLLLLLLL the time). 

My Questions 

1. Why did you start blogging?

2. What would you consider your ‘golden’ best moment in blogging?

3. What do you consider your ‘gold medal’ top goal with blogging?

4. What’s 1 tv series you would recommend?

5. What’s 1 band/artist you would recommend?

Nominations 

Glen Parmenter

Eleanor from Not So Modern Girl

Jess from Stuck in the Book

Madison & Rebecca from Foster Fam Travels

Weird n Liberated

Ellie – M from Ticking the List

Smelly Socks & Garden Peas

Joey from Concealed Voices

Shona Louise Cobb

Claire from Our Favourite Jar

My 3 Best Posts

  1. Disability & Language
  2. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  3. Why I am Proud to be Disabled

Once again, I am very grateful for this nomination and hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Why I’m Proud to be Disabled

In a (very belated) nod to Disability Pride Month, which was back in July, I thought I’d do a little piece on why I’m proud to be disabled!

Community

I think the biggest reason I’m proud to be disabled is the disabled community. We’re strong. loud and proud about being disabled, fighting for each other and for change. In finding the disabled community, in real life and in the online world through social media and blogging, I feel like I’ve found my people. The ones I can rant to about ableism or inaccessibility without feeling like I’m complaining or ungrateful (the way I’m sometimes made to seem by the rest of society). When I look at some of the work that’s happening within the disabled community to fight ableism and inaccessibility, it gives me hope for a more accessible and equal future for disabled people.

What It’s Taught Me About Me

Being disabled has also taught me a lot about myself, I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t shaped me as a person. Being disabled given me perseverance to work at overcoming barriers (the literal and structural ones which are VERY obvious when you’re disabled) and the single-minded focus to not let the way society is set up get in the way of me achieving what I want to achieve. I also believe that being disabled is the basis for pretty much all of my problem-solving skills, I’m constantly having to find ways around problems (read: inaccessibility) as a disabled person, and particularly as a disabled person. Being disabled has also given me a wider view of disability. I mean that both in terms of seeing more accessibility adaptations in the world, and more variety in adaptations, than I probably would if I wasn’t disabled. But I also mean it in terms of seeing disability positively for the strength it can be and adaptability it can bring, as opposed to seeing it as the pity party or horrible, pitiful existence that it can be viewed as by the rest of society sometimes.

What’s It’s Taught Me About People

I’ve also learned a lot about people and society in general. Particularly since being active in “advocacy” and the disabled community, you realise that some of the things people say are entirely ridiculous, some of the sentences and questions that come out of peoples’ mouths on a daily basis when they see me in my chair and my only response  has to be “excuse me?!”. It also makes you realise that a lot of the misconceptions and biases about disabled people go deeper than you’d think, a lot of the actions or words seen as “helpful” or “compliments” really aren’t and people say or do a lot of stuff without realising how unhelpful and potentially hurtful they can be. I hate to be a Debbie downer here but being disabled really can show you the darker, more upsetting side of society and the way people think.

Opportunities

Nowwwwwww back to the positives. Being disabled has given me so many opportunities that I don’t think I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I highly doubt I would have started this blog if I didn’t have my life as a disabled person as the topic to focus on. And this blog has of course led onto other opportunities including being featured in national media. The opportunity to have legs that are fully functional and allow me to walk unaided? That ship sailed long ago, but so many opportunities have come along BECAUSE that whole “walking unaided” thing didn’t happen.

Who I Am

Mostly I’m proud to be disabled because it’s who I am, and I can’t help but be proud of my own existence. I’ve been disabled since birth; I know no other life than the one I’m currently living. I think that confuses people a fair bit too, when they ask, “if you could take a pill that would make you able bodied would you?” No? I don’t know how to live that life, I know how to live this disabled life, and I feel like I’m quite good at it, so I’ll stick to this life thanks

Bonuses

Then there are of course the little bonuses. Things like queue jumping and barely having to wait in a queue ever. Or getting to ride around on a fancy set of wheels that everyone always says they want. Or having my own personal dancefloor when I’m the only one on the wheelchair accessible platform at gigs. Or the free carer tickets for gigs which essentially mean I get a  half price ticket in comparison to everyone else (we LOVE a bargain over here at InvincibleWomanOnWheels).

So, those are the reasons I am proud to be disabled. I hope my fellow disabled people had a great July (as much as can be expected in the current situation) as Disability Pride Month and continue to have a great rest of the year!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Camden Electric Ballroom Accessibility Comparisons – Collaboration with Artie Carden

The accessibility reviews are BACK! well sort of. Today I’m collaborating with Artie Carden (check out their Instagram and Youtube too!) to compare our experiences with accessibility at the Electric Ballroom in Camden at 2 different types of event, comparing my experience at a club night to their experience at a concert.

The first thing to say is that Artie and I have different disabilities which means we have different access needs. Those different access needs will of course make our experiences somewhat different, alongside attending different events.

Now, in terms of those differing disabilities, those of you who know me personally or have been following for a while will know I’m Em, I’m a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy and this means for events I usually need a wheelchair accessible venue with a wheelchair accessible spot for me alongside a carer/assistant ticket. In terms of their disability, In Artie’s own words:  

“I have Crohn’s disease, hyper mobility syndrome and Takayasu’s arteritis. I am able to walk and stand but not for long periods of time, and occasionally use a walking stick (I normally will use one for concerts). I need to know if a venue has loads of steps, as I can walk up and down them but not  many of them so lifts or ramps are better for me. I have been to a few gigs without a carer/assistant but I think I would prefer to go with someone after my few experiences. I would need a chair with a back, at least, and an easily accessible bathroom. My Takayasu’s has also led to limited mobility in my dominant arm which can make it hard to walk with a stick and carry something (drink or ticket etc). Access to water is also really important for me in case I feel like taking pain medication is necessary.”

In terms of the ticket buying and collection experience, for the club night you could either prebook a space on the guest list via social media or pay on entry on the night. There was no specific accessible ticket. In terms of the gig, it was a case of sending a form of evidence of disability (such as receipt of disability benefit ) and then the venue stated they would sort an accessible seat and Artie would not have to queue. All seems fine right? nope, there was then a problem collecting ticket from the box office as the staff were not aware that accessible tickets were for box office collection and were therefore, how to put this “less than helpful” and quite dismissive and tried to insinuate that accessible tickets couldn’t be picked up at the box office.

On arrival at the club night, I made myself known to security and was then led to a separate entrance to get in, that meant going over the famous Camden cobbles which my back did NOT appreciate. Artie’s experience at the gig was somewhat similar in terms of the risk of injury because, unlike most venues which let those in accessible seating areas in first to get situated before the rush of the general standing and seated ticket holders, Electric Ballroom just let everyone in at once which of course risks injuring people, especially disabled patrons and those with extra needs who may be more prone to injuries.

In terms of my overall experience at the club night, I had to stay on one level of the club as there was no lift to the upper level. This was kind of an issue since there were different types of music playing on each level and the kind of music I like was on the level I couldn’t reach. The night out becomes somewhat pointless if you can’t do what you want to do or listen to the songs you enjoy most.

Artie’s experience at the concert was even more inaccessible as the “accessible seating” was upstairs (bear in mind my “no lift” comment from earlier) the concept of seating upstairs is a very inaccessible version of accessible seating, at least check the access needs of your patrons so you can provide them with an actual accessible experience! The toilets were also inaccessible as they were down more stairs, which is quite the issue because those of you who’ve tried singing along to an entire concert without at least water to keep you hydrated will know it’s pretty near impossible (and also not the best idea in general). There were also no backs to the “accessible” seating which caused Artie an injury. Yet another instance of “actually ask the access needs of your patrons so you can provide an accessible experience that doesn’t, you know, actually injure them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this collaboration and it provides some insight into how our experiences at different types of events within the same venue can present both similar and different issues.

Stay Invincible!

Emma and Artie