Friday, September 26, 2008

Adventures in Lifts

ARGH. I am trying to read about the ICIDH (for a seminar this afternoon on Disability and Language). The ICIDH was the forerunner to the ICF. Both are largely medical-model in outlook, although their original designers didn't think so. There are a few redeeming features to both which are interesting to consider - for about two minutes. Then it all gets horribly *dull*. It's a go-nowhere debate, because although I agree that the ICIDH is pants and rubbish in itself, and the ICF not much better, the sociologists behind them write (mainly) nice things about how they intended the focus to be social not medical, and the Disability Studies proponents reply with angry articles about how they didn't achieve this aim, and no one can see anyone else's viewpoint, and never the twain shall meet. And in the meantime, I *know* the social model - I'm revving the engine trying to get into the more interesting stuff (coming up in future seminars) about social theory of disability, and such fascinating ideas as whether that can include those who don't feel included by the social model without alienating those who are completely in love with the aforementioned social model and will never deviate from any of its claims... My problem is also that I can see both sides of the debate on language, being a linguist. I was once a firm believer that 'impairment' and 'disablity' were entirely separate things that had almost no relationship to each other. Listening to the views of real disabled people (*not* non-disabled sociologists who are stuck in their academic ivory towers with the high windows and blackout blinds) has led me to begin to rethink the relationship between the two. But as I say, that's for social theory, not social model, as I won't have anyone touch the social model with so much as a fingernail, or I'll bash them over the head with Haralambos's 'Sociology: Themes and Perspectives'. Which is very heavy. Just so you know. So, yes, my views are complicated. I have a feeling this course is only going to make them more so. Hurrah. I think...

But never mind. Let's talk about just one reason why the social model is still Queen of All, especially where the education of poor unwitting little non-disabled people is concerned. I am having interesting encounters with lifts at the moment. Last Friday evening would have been fantastic (Sci-fi Soc film night: Doctor Horrible and Stardust - fun with supervillains then more fun with gay pirates, hurrah), were it not for the sodding union lift that is seriously getting in the way of my life at the moment. Well, primarily the lift. Also the attitudes of union staff. (Ah yes, because disabling barriers can have many dimensions.)

Between films, I took the lift down from the second floor, where we were enjoying our televisual delights, in an attempt to find myself an accessible loo and a cup of tea. On reaching the ground floor I went into the bar, where they were just closing up, but were kind enough to grab me a takeaway tea while doing so. I tried to head back out the doors I'd just come in through, but found them locked.

I should, at this point in the story, make it clear that there are two different lifts on two different sides of the union building. Each lift goes to different floors, but they both happen to stop on the first floor. By locking this door, the staff had blocked my access (on this floor at least) to the lift I needed to get back to the second floor. I could have asked at the bar for it to be unlocked, but I reckoned that by the time they'd called security etc to arrange this, it would be quicker to go up in the other lift to the first floor and then change to the other lift there for the second floor.

So off I go, arriving on the first floor and heading across the corridor to the other set of lifts. All is going well, until I encounter *another* set of locked doors. Right, I think, I'll head over to reception to get everything unlocked, then go on my merry way. Except that, on returning to the other lift that I had exited from literally moments before, it becomes clear that it has broken down. For the FIFTH time that week (and those were just the times when I was there to count). I am now stuck on the first floor and, regardless, have no way of getting back to my society's meeting room. I make a *massive* fuss about all this (as I'm sure you can imagine). Security staff are called to help. They tell me - like so many union staff have during the Glorious Week of the Broken-Down Lift - that "it's a very old and unpredictable lift". I see - does that mean you're flouting the DDA any less? They then tell me that they always lock up the other set of lifts because they're under pressure to get "as many doors locked as possible". They say that if they had known a society was meeting, they wouldn't have done. I think this is probably rubbish, as the Sci-Fi Society meets there every Friday. I take their e-mail addresses so I can inform them every time I want to use that floor in the evening (although that reminds me - I shouldn't have to, and I need to raise this with the Exec at some point). I then, finally, get taken through to the lift, with a promise that they will not lock me into the building. (Which turned out to be only half-true - the automatic doors had been shut off when I got back to the ground floor, and I had to struggle with the manual ones, but these were at least unlocked.)

As you can imagine, I complained to the Exec about the lift at the end of the Glorious Week. They've said they want to get it replaced, but I have yet to hear if they are going to. I'll keep bother them about it. Repeatedly.

The Social Model: until society sorts out its bloody lifts, it's not a bad start.

And now I have to go and finish reading too many people debating it. Gaaaaaaaah.


Lisa said...

Knackered lifts, locked doors and unhelpful security. Sounds like Brunel when I was an undergraduate.

It has improved dramatically since I graduated in 2003, but even so, the automatic doors to get into the library have been broken for a year! I don't usually have a problem with opening most doors, but these are stupidly heavy.

stevethehydra said...

I am really envying you (albeit not about the lift). Really glad that you got there :)

BTW, i passed this on to you: Blog Love

Anonymous said...


Haven't seen you over at LJ for a while so wandered over to this neck of the woods. It sopunds like you still fighting :)

How's everything been?

Would be great to have a catch up sometime. My email is chezza_3 at hotmail dot com

love Enchanted/madeofmagic/lostunicorn/
cheryl xxx