The age old saying “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” perfectly encapsulates why there is often a divide between what businesses THINK is accessible, and what is REALLY accessible. I’d like to tell you about the weekend I learnt a very valuable lesson.
Recently, in one of our Facebook group discussions, a follower started a discussion on what has been your worst experience when booking wheelchair accessible accommodation? It reminded me of the weekend my mum came to stay at our brand new wheelchair accessible holiday house in Barwon Heads, Victoria, and the weekend I learnt a very valuable lesson.
You see, we worked with the Architect to include all the accessible features into the new build. Can a guest roll into the shower easily? Is the bedroom large enough to manoeuvre a wheelchair? Are the doors wide enough? And so on. The end result was a beautiful, well thought out (or so I thought) accessible accommodation, that my mother can feel comfortable in when visiting from Sydney.
The Architect researched what builders and government bodies deem to be accessible accommodation. Whilst I researched by asking wheelchair users and scouring the internet for real life experiences. So, when the place was built, we were proud to be able to share the place with other travellers.
The Bleeding Obvious
Back to the weekend mum came to visit. I had a brainwave. I asked mum if I could borrow her wheelchair. I wanted to see for myself how someone in a chair can navigate, and experience a relaxing home away from home.
All was going really well until I came to the bathroom sinks. Yes, we included double sinks where a wheelchair can glide under.
I looked up at the mirror.
There was simply no way I could see my reflection to put on makeup! The mirror was too high!
Now, we found a simple solution, and the world didn’t end. However, it taught me a valuable lesson. If you are in the Travel and Hospitality industry, I would like you to hire or borrow a wheelchair
Cruise around your hotel, holiday accommodation or restaurant. See for yourself what it is like for your guests to navigate their way around your establishment. I promise you, it will forever alter your perspective, realise the importance of truly empathising with others to understand them completely. (Your local Pharmacy most likely rents them out).
Your future guests with disabilities will love you more.
Your accountant will be happy because your bookings will increase.
You will have “walked” a mile in someone else’s shoes.
P.S. If you have accessible accommodation, send me a photo of you doing this and I will post a free advert to our 5,000 fans.
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