Belfast Opera House Apply to Disability Equality Charter

Published Date
01/07/2009

Hey guys!

Long time no speak.  It’s been hectic over here, and I’m going to let you all have a brief run-down of what I have been up to!

Probably of most note is the historic Belfast Opera House joining the Disability Equality Charter.  As I building which has improved times over in recent years, I was extatic to hear that they were biting the bullet as such, in order to improve their services.  Back when I was young they claimed they had no seats for wheelchair users who could not transfer for George’s Marvellous Medicine.  Eventually, after a long battle, my Mum got me tickets to the show.  Talk about discrimination!  So, I went along to the council meeting they were holding, and was very impressed with what they have done.  Accessiblity backstage, and in every part of the building apart from the Gods seating, and also excellent staff training with staff learning BSL [British Sign Language].  The latter may seem trivial, but as a person who is deaf, it is vital to me that all disabilities are embraced with no difficulties.  They are also vastly increasing the amount of signed shows, which is fantastic.  I think the only difficulty I had was the fact that they were selling their seat for the carer to someone who was not a carer.  I did have that out with them, and I’ll let you know the result of that discussion when I have it.

In other news, I have had fantastic results with my bank and doctors surgery.

My bank were by far the worst bank in the whole of where I live.  With an automatic door at the top of a flight of steps, and customers doing their buisness from the street, their accessibility was appauling.  There was a door at the side of the street which was a designated entrance for wheelchair users.  The only problem was that there was an uneven step and if you rang the bell, they never answered because they thought it was pranksters.  One day, I went undercover, filming the whole seven minutes it took for me to even get the door answered in pouring rain.  Upon showing it to the manager, she was embarrassed and appologised profusely upon the unprofessional mannor of her staff.  I also told her of the confusion of bells, as the acountants office upstairs once buzzed me in when I used the incorrect bell, resulting in my chastisement when the bell was not clearly labelled.  I found myself in a room with hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on the counter.  Consequently, the step is now ramped.  The bell is now answered via intercom, clearly labelled and at a much more wheelchair friendly level, and the door opened in just a few minutes.  A vast improvement in just a few weeks!  Thanks to the Ulster Bank for that.

My doctors surgery is a different story.  Parking there was fine.  Getting up the five inch kerb is another thing.  I called up the DOE, asking them if they would put a small dipped kerb behind the disabled parking place as I and another local wheelchair user both come out of the rear of the vehicle.  They were initially not keen to change the dipped kerb positioning which actually had a parking space across the front of it.  They also told me that they had consulted a pannel of a grand two people without mobility issues and that they felt they had fulfulled their entitlement to access.  Eventually, we got them to budge on that, and I can now get up the kerb without difficulty!

That’s all from here for now — hope everybody is enjoying the weather!

Michaela xx

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