For so many disabled people making sure that a place we want to go and stay or go out to dine at is a regular occurrence, yet for able people, a quick internet booking or a phone call to make that reservation is all that is needed. I know that I am certainly one of those that has to figure out a venue before I get there and for several reasons.
1. It can ruin what would hopefully be an enjoyable visit.
2. Who on earth would want to spend the beginning of any trip remonstrating with the staff?
3. When you are heading away with the family, you just want to have an enjoyable time and not be completely frustrated.
However, on the occasion that you are going away on a short break or a vacation, the last thing you want to do is spend half of your time on the telephone trying to ask questions of the proprietor - especially if there is a language barrier. Besides which, if you are on a city break, who knows where one would be at any given time of the day? It is nice to be spontaneous just like everyone else. This is where the hospitality industry becomes almost entirely the opposite and earn the title of inhospitality industry, certainly to disabled people, anyway.
One of the Ice creams ordered at Costelletto, Vienna
On a recent visit to Vienna, such as experience happened when a local told us that we really must experience the local ice-cream as it truly was a sensation to the taste buds. So as we meandered through this beautiful city, one of my two children spotted an ice-cream parlour and asked if we could go inside? It was level access and easy to get into so there did not appear to be any reason why not. The ice-cream certainly was delicious and the variety to choose from in the menu made the choice of order very difficult. We had a really enjoyable time and only encountered a problem when I asked to use the toilet! There was an accessible toilet for disabled people to use, but not for wheelchair users. It had all the space for a wheelchair accessible toilet, but it was situated at the top of three steps, with no other access available. How could this be? The establishment weren't used to having disabled people in wheelchairs that could not climb a few steps and no-one had ever mentioned it as a problem before. Not quite what I was expecting to hear, but I heard it anyway.
Later that evening I happened to bump into the former Director of the European Network for Independent Living - Zara Todd. She explained that not all of Europe's major cities were as accessible as they ought to be. In fact she said that she had personally experienced hatred in the Brussels, the capital of Europe; just because she was 'out of the house!'
So until our inhospitality industry can work together to ensure that they are all accessible, for me and my family there will never really be such a thing as the hospitality industry.