Asylum Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Time for another access review. This time of Asylum in Birmingham, specifically for Uprawr Rock Night!

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Tickets

Ticket buying is an easy enough situation as you just buy a ticket on the door, roll in and collect a stamp.

Travel

Travel there is also fairly simple as it’s a 15 minute walk from my room at Aston University. The only vaguely tricky bit is when you reach the road Asylum is on you have to come off the drop kerb, cross the road to the side of Asylum and then go further up in the road (not on the path) and come back on yourself round inside the barriers, but that’s only tricky as it involves driving in the road.

Experience

The experience inside is also very accessible. There is a ramp from the main entrance and bar to the dance floor which can be tricky to navigate if not approached straight on so I would be careful but it’s definitely a very usable ramp. Once on the dancefloor there was plenty of space and a general nice atmosphere which negated the claustrophobia that I find can sometimes be an issue at club nights (particularly when you’re a wheelchair user constantly at bum height and surrounded by those taller than you). Maybe the atmosphere is just a difference between a rock night and a standard club night? I’m not sure.

While there is an accessible toilet, it is not a radar key toilet as the key is kept behind the bar or with security staff. I’d always recommend making toilets radar key over staff held key as it allows for independence in using the bathroom and then going about your night rather than having to hang around waiting for a key, but I’m also aware that not everyone who uses an accessible toilet will have a radar key. The other point to note is that the accessible toilet is situated with all other toilets so queues for the standard toilets can cover the accessible toilet door. Keep that in mind if you want to avoid hitting people with toilet doors!

I hope this review is useful and helps my fellow wheelchair using rockers enjoy an accessible club night!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Mama Roux’s Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Credit: Shann Wright

Another access review, this time for Mama Roux’s in Birmingham, specifically for Not Safe For Work Rock Night

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Tickets

Tickets buying was a very simple situation as they were simply available to be bought on the door.

Travel

Getting there was…an experience to say the least. The actual distance isn’t the problem as it’s only about a 20 minute walk. However, Digbeth (the area) is sort of notorious for its lack of drop kerbs and for Uber drivers parking on said drop kerbs so I’d get ready to fight for your drop kerb access if I was you. I know I tapped on the windows of several Ubers that night to get them to move off the drop kerb.

Experience

Once I was in the door, it was a mixed experience, although overall a good one. I had to use my chair riser to raise up to bar level to pay since the card readers did not seem to be detachable. However, I did manage to make my way through the dancefloor to the barrier, which is not something that happen often but is the kind of situation I LOVE, so I’m not ashamed to admit that made my night. The accessible toilet wasn’t actually in Mama Roux’s but in another section/building on Lower Trinity Street. They’re all connected but that toilet also wasn’t radar key so I had to wait and get the key from staff which made the simple process of going to the bathroom a long process and quite the mission. I would suggest making the toilet a radar key toilet as I usually do but I think that may be quite pointless because there’s the factor of distance between Mama Roux’s and the actual accessible toilet, so I’m not sure make the toilet a radar key toilet would streamline the process any more.

I hope this post is useful and helps someone enjoy a great night out at Not Safe For Work.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Birmingham Resorts World Arena SOLO Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Mooooore access reviews. This time Resorts World Arena in Birmingham for Cage Warriors 109. I know I’ve reviewed this venue before when it was Genting Arena, but this time I was SOLO. So, what’s the difference attending an event solo at this venue vs accompanied? Read on to find out.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Ticket Buying

This time around, the first part of the process was to apply for the Access Card specifically for Birmingham venues from the Resorts World Arena website. While I was waiting for that to be confirmed I was able to ring the venue and have tickets held for a specific number of days while waiting for the Access Card confirmation. So, in all honesty, once the Access Card was sorted it was basically the usual process of buying tickets through a phone line.

Travel

Travel wise, I took a train from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International with Virgin Trains which let me tell you was a MISSION. There was an issue with booking assistance in that they wanted my wheelchair dimensions before agreeing to book the ramp for my assistance. This is not something I have been asked for before and annoyed me. I found, however that if you book via another company’s assistance line (Cross Country in my case), they’ll sort your assistance with no issue, gotta love a loophole! I arrived at Birmingham New Street 20 minutes before departure and was put straight on the train. I was then taken straight off at Birmingham International and followed the sign posts through the station to the arena. On the way back, it was my first time taking a train there and back from a Cage Warriors venue so I didn’t know if I’d make the last train. With that in mind, I decided to leave straight after the main event KO, regardless of how much I wanted to stay for celebrations. I made it back in the station 15 minutes before my train and managed to get on an earlier train than I’d booked even with issues on the line, there was then a minor wait at Birmingham New Street before I was able to disembark the train.

Experience & Seating

Firstly, what an absolutely class show by Cage Warriors as per usual, it honestly felt like going home after 6 months not being at a CW live show, I know that sounds a bit dramatic but if you read this thankyou note I’ve written to Cage Warriors you’ll understand why I say it. As for the venue, there are accessible toilets which can be accessed by radar key which was a welcome sight as someone who likes not having to ask for access. I was basically cage side, or as close as fan can get, same as the previous visit. The only way that going solo is different to going with someone is that there’s no one to bounce that fight night energy off of (aka no one to contain me while I lose myself in fight night) or to discuss fights with.

Cage Warriors, all the love as always, see you in London! I hope this is an insight into my solo fight night adventures!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Travelling from Birmingham New Street to London Euston as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Another train travel blog! This time Birmingham New Street to London Euston (with West Midlands Railway) for an interview!

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Birmingham New Street

Tickets were booked through Red Spotted Hanky which meant I had to physically print them at the station. On the day of travel, I arrived at the Birmingham New Street assistance desk 20 minutes before departure, having prebooked my assistance, and was put straight on the train when it arrived with no hassle.

On Train

On the train, the wheelchair space gave me a large amount of space and was situated directly opposite the accessible toilet. Speaking of toilets, wheelchair – toilet transfers on moving trains are bloody difficult with just one grab rail!

Disembarking & Leaving at London Euston

On arrival at Euston, there was a delay with getting the assistance for me to disembark. I must say thank you to the fellow passenger who found and unlocked/ moved the ramp and attempted to put it down for me himself, I appreciate that you understood I had places to be and couldn’t wait forever for assistance and I’m sorry you were yelled at. It was also quite difficult to find and get out to the buses from the station to continue my journey.

Return

Getting On at London Euston

On arrive back at the station, I had to get all the way across the main area of the station from the entrance to the assistance area. That’s quite a long and difficult way through people when it’s busy, e.g. Friday afternoon (can ANYONE guess when I travelled?!) . I must thank the assistance staff at Euston for working to put me on an earlier train than my assistance was booked on.

On Train

It was VERY busy on the train. I managed to getting into the wheelchair space but the train then very quickly became standing room only with people crowded into every space on the train.

Disembarking & Leaving at Birmingham New Street

When it came to disembarking, working out how to move safely to the doors of the busy train from the wheelchair space was a worry. However, I’d like to say thank you to my fellow passengers for helping me get through to the doors and to staff at Birmingham New Street staff for being there at the train door on our arrival and not making me wait for assistance.

I hope this post gives insight into travelling between Birmingham and London as a wheelchair user!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Wheelchair Accessible Travel: Rhodes Island, Greece

Photo Credit: Col Lymburn

Another travel blog time! This time: My family holiday to Rhodes in Greece!

Flying

First up, Flights! I need to preface this by saying that I used my manual wheelchair for this trip so any wheelchair mentions are talking about my manual wheelchair. On arrival at Birmingham airport, we made our way to bag check in where we were also able to pick up a luggage tag for my wheelchair which I saw as an unexpected bonus and a way to streamline the process. From there I thought everything was ok and there would be no need to go to the assistance desk (because all I figured they needed to do was tag my chair since assistance was prebooked, how wrong I was) and no one at the airport told us to go to assistance. On arrival at the gate, we learned that no ambulift had arrived to take me to the plane, apparently BECAUSE we hadn’t headed to the assistance desk, so there was a delay in waiting for that to arrive. For the flight home from Rhodes airport, we were one of the last called forward for boarding which meant having to wheel down the ramp onto the tarmac through all those who were already waiting to board. One unexpected bonus though was a fully wheelchair accessible private transfer from the airport to the hotel and back.

Hotel (Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes)

Next up, the hotel!

Firstly, it must be said that the customer service here absolutely CANNOT be faulted. Particular shout out to the staff in the main restaurant for always making sure to seat us specifically at the most accessible tables every mealtime. Now onto the access. The accessible route to the main pool was through the car park/ drop off section, which is not the kind of trip I would have liked to do on my own. There was however a very doable accessible route from our room to the top level bar (the pool and the bar are the only important parts of a holiday right?!). In terms of the room itself, there was a bath and grab rails in the bathroom, I do prefer a wet room for ease of access but I’m used to baths and grab rails in hotel rooms now. The layout and size of the bathroom also made it easier to leave my chair outside and transfer into the bathroom. One of the bonuses here was adjoining rooms which made it easier to get assistance from my mum when struggling with some things like transferring in and out of the bath using the grab rails. This room was also a two level room with steps down to the balcony area which meant I had to be lifted down to the balcony which was an unexpected accessibility issue. I must also say that there are fully accessible rooms elsewhere in the hotel but I wasn’t in one of those so I can’t comment on what they are like.

Rhodes Town

Now, on to Rhodes town itself. In terms of public transport, the buses do have ramps which are manual so you have to ask the driver to lower the ramp out, which is situated in the middle of bus. We had a mixed experience with this, with no problem sorting it out on the way into town but what I think was a language barrier issue on the way out of town meaning we couldn’t get the driver to put the ramp down and I ended up having to be lifted on.

In terms of the town itself, the old town is so historic and beautiful and entirely worth going to, particularly if you like wandering through quaint little side streets, but it is quite cobbled so beware of that and be prepared. The modern side of the city has much better ground with just standard asphalt paths, I think it does have quite a confusing layout though so if you struggle with directions I’d probably prepare to get lost.

Waterpark

And finally, to the waterpark. We took a taxi to the waterpark from our hotel after seeing how full the free transfer bus from town to the waterpark gets. This was simply a case of folding my chair and transferring into the back of the taxi. Overall, I’d say the physical access at the park was ok with smooth asphalt paths most places although there were a couple of large hills. The actual ride access was less so, I was only allowed on about 2 of the rides (according to a list on display upon entry) due to safety, which made sense when I saw some of the rides available here, and I was glad to be made aware of ride access upon entry rather than trying to get on a ride and being turned away. I did get free entry though which I think balanced out the lack of ride access. The rides I could access were the lazy river and the wave pool, which was perfectly fine by me as those are my favourite rides.

I hope this gives everyone an insight into this accessibility of this trip!

Stay Invincible!

Em (InvincibleWomanOnWheels)

Digbeth Dining Club Wheelchair Accessibility Review

ANOTHER access review, this time Digbeth Dining Club on Lower Trinity Street in Birmingham!

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Tickets

In terms of tickets, it’s simply a pay on entry (rather than prebooking) and pay for what you buy inside kind of deal. I did have my entry fee returned to me when I tried to pay which makes me wonder if entry is free for disabled people? I’m not sure on that but it may be worth an enquiry if you’re visiting.

Travel

In terms of travel, it’s quite a simple 20 ish minute walk from my room on Aston University Campus. One word of caution is that the Digbeth area is, even in the short time I’ve lived in Birmingham, becoming notorious in my mind for having few/poor drop kerbs, so if drop kerbs are necessary for access for you as they are for me, I’d prepare for a bit of an interesting journey.

Experience & Seating

Once in, we had a walk around the front section to check out the stalls there and then were let through a barrier and a closed section of Lower Trinity Street to see the rest of the stalls. I ended up sending my friend back to one of the front stalls with my card to get the food I wanted as it seemed easier than going through the whole process to get back to the stalls at the front again. Obviously it’s my decision to do it that way but it is concerning when access is so laborious that letting someone else collect your food seems the easier option. When it came to sitting down to eat, I parked my chair at the end of the long picnic bench type table, again I’m used to this but would prefer it if there was an option where I didn’t end up on the end of the table. I also had to use my chair riser to raise up to the bar to pay as there was no cable extension for the card reader, again, I’m lucky that my chair has a riser so I can rise up in situations like that but I’m aware that’s not a possibility for even every wheelchair user.

Overall, while the food and beers at Digbeth Dining Club were fabulous and the atmosphere very cool, I think there are still steps that could be taken to improve the access and make it a more independent experience for disabled patrons.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Resorts World Arena Birmingham Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Photo Credit: Keshia Asare

Another new access review, and this one’s not for a concert but an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) event, more specifically for Cage Warriors CW98 at Resorts World Arena Birmingham. As always, ticket buying, travel and on the night seating and experience covered in this review.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as a manual wheelchair user (in this instance), I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Ticket Buying

If you want a one-word description of the ticket buying process at this venue it would be SIMPLE! There was a disabled ticket booking line, the number for that line was stated on the venue website. So, I simply called that number and stated what event I wanted tickets for and the fact I’d need a wheelchair space and carer ticket and that was it, no forms, no documents, no dramas, tickets were booked within minutes!

Travel

In terms of getting from London to Birmingham, we took a train (technically trains) from Euston to Birmingham University station. We then took an Uber from the friend’s house where we were staying to the arena itself, which took about 30 minutes. Since I was in my manual wheelchair, it was quite a simple process in that we could just fold the chair and transport it in the boot of a standard (not necessarily wheelchair accessible) vehicle while I transferred into the back seat.

Experience & Seating

In terms of the full experience at the arena, the first, and probably only, issue I noted was a mirror opposite the toilet in the disabled bathroom. It seems like a small point and you’re probably wondering why the hell I’m wittering on about bathroom fixtures, but it’s undignifying if the person helping you out has to stay in the bathroom with you (as is the case for some disabled people) turns around to give you privacy and can STILL see everything, this is particularly an issue if the person helping you out is of the opposite gender (this wasn’t the case for me but can be the case for a lot of disabled people). The next mission was finding our seats, which is easier said than done in a big arena with so many sections. Once we’d found them, our seats were on a raised platform (with seats for those accompanying the disabled person alongside a wheelchair space) and there were cageside seats on the floor level in front of us. Now, I must say I was a little nervous about having the cageside seats right in front of us as I knew people tended to stand during the walkouts and was worried about being able to see over them (I love the walkouts too!). However, I must say that those in the cageside seats were always courteous in asking and making sure I could see everything even WHILE they were stood (so thank you to those people for their courtesy) which meant I could enjoy the RIDICULOUSLY brilliant atmosphere like everyone else. I also had no problem attending the free (for ticketholders) meet & greet, from which there are pictures below) as it was in a fully accessible foyer.

20181020_193713534_ios     20181020_193641166_ios

Overall, a great experience and one of the best atmospheres I’ve been in. Cage Warriors shows will always feel like the one event where I’m just treated like everyone else, not Em the girl in the wheelchair, just Em, that girl that travels the country to see the sport she loves, who just HAPPENS to be in a wheelchair, and for that I’ll always be grateful to the Cage Warriors crew!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)