Being a wheelchair user certainly cramps your style when it comes to getting into other people’s houses.
My boss has a monthly after-work gathering for his immediate staff; it rotates between 6 or 7 people’s houses. I’m tired of getting the invite, with no mention of accessibility (again, we’re talking about a small group, not a big public invitation). I’m tired of emailing or calling the host to ask about steps and bathrooms. I’m tired of how the other person rarely even pauses to think before saying, “It’ll be fine!” or “We’ll work it out!”
As we all know, a work social event is more work than social. Neediness is not the personal quality I want to highlight under those circumstances. And it’s one thing to be invited to a meeting in an inaccessible conference room, and another thing to be invited to a colleague’s inaccessible house. Criticize the conference room, you’re criticizing the company. Criticize the house, you’re criticizing the person.
My choir has a potluck at someone’s house at the beginning of each season; I’m more comfortable with these folks, but I’d still rather not be carried into someone’s house.
It helps if the host actually gives it a little thought beforehand; even if the house is wildly inaccessible, it’s comforting to think that someone cared enough to scope it out. After my uncle’s memorial service this summer we went to my cousin’s house. She had figured out a route, the best entrance to use, and had checked on the bathroom door. That was thoughtful, even though the house wasn’t be any stretch of the imagination independently accessible.
Am I whining? I want accessibility to just be there, like air. I don’t want people to have to make special arrangements to get me onto busses and trains, into movie theaters and banks, but I do want someone who invites me to their house to at least say something about it.
I didn’t go to the monthly boss thing today. I’m still deciding about the choir potluck.