Friday, 25 January 2013

Space: economy versus consideration

There was this comment on one of the posts in my blog:

I am invited to speak at conferences fairly often and only three of them have had a lift or a ramp to the stage where I am expected to speak -- and the problem of there being no aisle through tables or chairs to get to the front is almost always a problem too.

As I have complained incessantly about the need for ramps where they do not exist, let me devote this post to basicallly make a (possibly overly optimistic) plea to restauranteurs and organisers of various functions to leave a clear three feet (four would be better!) between tables/groups of chairs so people on wheelchairs will have the necessary room to navigate without having to disturb people. (I'll put in a couple of photographs one of these days to illustrate what I am griping about!) This is typically the case when what is on offer is a buffet, and a person like me has only one choice if there is not enough room to navigate from my table to where the food is laid out: and that is to request somebody at my table to (a) go scout the offerings and report to me on what is available, and (b) then go and bring me as much of what they think I may like to eat of my preferred dishes! Wouldn't it be far more considerate/egalitarian  to allow me to do what everyone else is doing: viz., go to the food on offer, decide what I want to eat, and serve myself as much as I'd want to eat of anything?

The same is true at receptions of weddings or family reunions organised in hotels. Given the choice, I would like to move around talking to people I haven't met in a while - just like everybody else - instead of being forced to sit in one place and speak only to those people who specifically come to me to talk to me.

When you come right down to it, it is only economics - in the sense of what it costs the organiser - which decides on whether or not the ambiance would be considerate to the likes of me.

These same considerations apply to the size of elevators, doors. and dimensions of various things. The writing on the wall is clear: more people need to be made aware of the meaning of, and the crying need for espousing, the principles of Universal Design which basically say let your design/arrangement not prevent anybody from doing what everyone else is able to do!

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