Monday, June 11, 2012

The Difficulty in Accessibility Ratings

Before I began to put fingers to keyboard for this blog, I perused the Internet looking for others who were doing something similar. Good news was I found many people out there writing about their experiences of dealing with different disabilities and their journey through life. As a newbie to the restaurant review world, I especially wanted to note anyone doing reviews on local restaurants and venues.

Until I realized one thing. These reviews could only be experienced through their particular lens/take on disability. Where one person didn't mind that there wasn't a rail going up the stairs, they still gave it a wonderful grade because it did have a ramp for wheelchair users.

One of those ramps I avoid. Usually dizzy by the time I get to the top of it. [Description: Metal pole ramp on a two level concrete incline]
Well, for me and many others who do not use wheelchairs, railings are a good thing. And not having to go up a ramp is a good thing for me since the less twist and turns I take, the better for my vertigo. So, if I were there, my rating would not have been so good.

Which brings up the point of my post today. Accessibility rating systems cannot be totally relied upon and are very condition specific. It will not be the same experience for someone who has invisible disabilities (like vertigo, although sometimes my leaning over can become very visible) as opposed to someone who uses a wheelchair. Anyone posting about a restaurant, event or location has to be aware that they are not addressing everyone.

Does that mean we shouldn't use them? Or people should stop offering them? Of course not!
Different people with disabilities have different needs when they go out to eat. [Description: image of a group of people and children, one person in a wheelchair, smiling and looking at the camera]

I will review restaurants from time to time, and give the best perspective I can. In fact, I intend to dine with many people with different disabilities in order that more than my opinion shows up in the review. I also want to compare notes with my readers to see if they had a good, bad or better experience.

Just realize that you have to take their word and even my word with a grain of salt. In the long run, use accessibility ratings as a guide, but go out and experience the location for yourself. In fact, that is my hope; that you experience the world and what it has to offer.

So, let me ask you something. Do you look for restaurants that have published accessibility ratings? Do you use online rating guides? How good were they when it came to your actual experience?

Links for accessibility articles or sites. Post some for your local area.
Blue Badge Style
New York Times Wine and Dine Article
The Rolling Gourmet Restaurant Accessibility Rating Guide Reviews
Gayot's Guide to the Good Life: Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants-Charlotte
Active Diner: Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants-Charlotte

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