I’m really getting tired of the very patronising ‘Stop being so difficult’ type responses I get when I argue my corner about something disability-related or access-related.
Yesterday, on a bus home, the bus driver tried to pick me up in my wheelchair – without asking what I needed, or whether moving me would be a good idea (a general ‘no’ to that one). He then refused to open the doors for five minutes while he played with the bus ramp, which wasn’t working right – while I was standing and asking him to open the door NOW or I would fall over. His response was to tell me to “calm down”. Ahem. (Yes, a complaint has been registered – although I have a ridiculous number of complaints against this bus company on file, and none of them ever results in anything useful like, say, basic disability awareness training for their staff.)
Today I exchanged rather strained e-mails with a woman at the accommodation office at Leeds, who wanted to change my plans regarding arrival times. I repeatedly explained that a) to change PA’s hours etc only a week in advance can be quite difficult, b) that I need a lot of notice of such changes for this and other practical reasons, and c) that I prefer to be asked, not to told, about changes like this as a result. Her response was rather curt, to say the least. I have compromised, but not happily.
And don’t even get me started on the access nightmare that was this year’s Greenbelt, from which I am still recovering. There, in almost every poorly thought-out, ridiculously inaccessible situation, it was all my own fault for needing access at all. And I was of course very naive for wanting to make a fuss about it.
The impression I get in all these situations is that it’s always *my* problem that I need something. My view, from a social model perspective, is that it’s very much their problem – but communicating this is really rather tricky. I end with the reputation of being ‘difficult’. (There already seems to be a general opinion at Leeds Uni that I’m a stroppy crip, which I am, but you know – I haven’t even got there yet.) And I’m not all that pleased about this ‘difficult’ image I seem to be cultivating, as I used to be all accommodating and a bit of a pushover, and mostly I was OK with that.
Anyone else find they’ve got this ‘difficult’ reputation just for asking for little things that they need? All ideas on how to deal better with people who want to make inaccessible environments/schedules/demands *your* fault, not theirs, would be much appreciated.