A reader asked:
My workplace (a theatre) is really inaccessible to people with physical disabilities. I’ve pointed it out to the manager, who isn’t interested in fixing the problems. When people with physical disabilities come into the building, the best thing I know how to do is let them know ahead of time what parts of the building they won’t be able to access (bathrooms, all but the last rows of the auditorium, etc.) It doesn’t feel like enough. Could you talk about some other useful ways to help?
I think there’s probably not much you have the power to do as far as fixing it. Depending on where you’re situated, you might be able to tell the owner, or report it to a local organization that deals with accessibility issues. But, it’s very likely that you won’t be able to fix things that way.
Assuming that you won’t be able to fix it, here are some things you can do:
- When people call and ask about accessibility issues, be honest
- And specific. Listen to the questions people ask, and answer them honestly.
- Sometimes you won’t know the answers. When you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
- If it’s something you can check, offer to check.
- If people are angry, don’t try to defuse their anger. Don’t tell them it’s not your fault. It’s not their job to make your feel better about the state of accessibility. They have a right to be angry,
- Maybe ask if they want to talk to the manager? They *might* be more interested in the problem if customers complain.
- Find out if there’s an accessible theater nearby. If people call and ask if your theater is accessible in a way yours isn’t, tell them “Unfortunately not, but <other place> is.”
- Familiarize yourself with access issues other than wheelchair access, too. Does your workplace offer captions? Descriptive audio? Sensory-friendly screenings? For which films?
- If not, which theaters do?
Anyone else want to weigh in? People with access needs, what would you want someone to do in this situation? People who’ve been in this situation, did you figure out anything good to do?