Published: 28th August 2015
Author: Acceleris

User Experience: Luke & Co.


Hello we are Luke; Holly; Nadine & Sue, a group of researchers at Teesside University. We were recently invited to attend a 4 day workshop in Manchester and we were prepared for hard work and the stress of long days but not for the almost constant inconvenience; hassle and blatant discrimination directed towards Luke and his wheelchair. We have listed the some of the main problems Luke encountered during our trip:

1: Having informed both the hotel/conference centre and train operators that one of our party is a wheelchair user,  we found that there was no assistance in place at any of the stations and that the hotel had no accessible room available.

2: Staff ‘forgot’ to assist Luke from the train at our destination

2: Whilst the hotel adapted a room for Luke – unfortunately they adapted the room to suit an elderly able bodied person with a bath seat and hand rails rather than for a wheelchair user

3: Local taxi firms repeatedly denied having accessible cabs

4: The hotel had only one portable ramp and the staff were resistant to moving this and so Luke was faced with the choice of either being able to access the breakfast room or being able to socialise with other delegates in the courtyard space of the conference centre

5: station assistance staff asking other team members how far Luke could walk even though he was involved in the conversation

Although these incidents may appear shocking, we would probably not have felt compelled to write this blog as from Luke’s perspective this represented a fairly uneventful trip, however there were 2 further incidents which had a devastating impact on Luke and our teams’ experience.

During our stay the hotel fire alarm was activated and most of us were evacuated for what we later learned was a false alarm. Luke was not so fortunate. Having been directed out of the nearest fire exit Luke was unable to reach the evacuation point due to steep flight of 10 steps outside of the fire exit. Hotel staff insisted on ushering Luke back into the building and trying to evacuate him through the conference centre and reception. Unfortunately this evacuation plan would have required Luke to use the hotel lift to reach the reception area. By this point both the internal fire doors and hotels lifts had automatically locked and had this been a real emergency there would have been strong chance that we would have lost a valued member of our team.

Finally having boarded our train home we were approached by the conductor who informed that Trans Pennine express had a new policy which meant that they were not insured to carry motorised scooters. In spite of our attempts to explain that Luke has a motorised wheelchair and not a mobility scooter the staff were adamant that his wheelchair should not have been allowed on the train. Indeed half an hour into our trip the conductor returned to our group with the number of customer services and informed us that he had spoken to his manager and confirmed that Luke should not have been allowed onto the train and instead been put into a taxi to make the two and half hour trip back from Manchester to Middlesbrough.

Our team have been devastated by Luke’s experiences and the prospect of having to leave him behind when we attend the finals of a national competition in London this week. I am however pleased to report that as a result of several phone calls Luke has managed to persuade the train companies to permit him to travel and we are hopeful that our London trip will be a more positive experience for all of us.

You can follow our progress on social media @SALTtool

Finally we would like to thank those people who gave us faith in human nature: the stranger who pulled the emergency call button at Manchester Piccadilly station to enable Luke to exit the train and the taxi firm manager who happened on our problems booking an accessible taxi and intervened to enable Luke to book to cab.


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Categories: Experiences