Mark My Words · mark my words · Wrestling with Stairs

Wrestling With Stairs – Progress Wrestling Accessibility Review: Update

I’ve written about Progress before, and they got a not-too-shabby score of 8/10, with room for improvement, and also issues with how I was dealing with them. Over time, we’ve sorted a lot of this out, and I’m happy to say that Progress is the biggest promotion of my three where I feel safest, which also includes Riptide and ACW.

Communication has become streamlined, with me contacting the correct people and dealing with things the correct way, and with the promotion coming together to ensure that things I’ve previously taken issue with have been either solved or removed.

Discussion of Access

This is done through the main Progress email, which is a switch from the usual DM system I’m used to. You usually get Jon Briley on the emails, who comes across very transactional – there’s no wasted language, no frills. Things can either be done or they can’t; it’s not a conversation, he’s stating facts. Once I realised this was simply his way of getting things done, it was easy to communicate my needs. Prompt responses are given, even when Jon has been on holiday or in the US, so props to him for that. It all makes a difference. 10/10

Physical Access – Discussed

For shows now, we email, say we’re coming, and are told that seats are reserved for us – we have specific place we need to be for ease of access to clear space for seizure, the accessible toilet, and the bar. When we booked Gold seats for the last Chapter, we just said we would be in our usual spot, but a few rows further forwards. One match of the previous chapter was discussed as triggering to me, so I was informed as to where it was in the running order, and I spent it happily tucked around the corner, talking to Helena and some other friends. 10/10

Physical Access – Actual

Even better than expected. Being let in is not an issue, seats are clearly reserved so if trains/travel/general ill means we’re running late, we don’t have to fight anyone for a chair in what I consider to be the safest spot for me. The seats are reserved at the end of a row, so that I can make an easy dash for a space if I get a warning for seizure, and I’m close to the bar and toilet. While the building isn’t flat, the one stair I have to climb every so often is doable, and only really needs to be negotiated for getting to merch tables; you could argue that’s not exactly necessary!

There are some minor issues that I would be happy to discuss with Progress if they wanted my take on it, but I’d also be content to leave them as-is. 10/10

Going The Extra Mile

Previously I spoke about strobe being used at Progress – since that show, I have not seen any strobe used. At Chapter 54, I did have to move from my chair, but these things happen, and it was simply unfortunate that my knee gave way and I seized due to the shock of hitting the floor. The ring crew listened to my carer, gave me space, and accepted that she knew what she was doing. The first aiders also stayed back and did not touch me. Jim came to check that I was alright, asked if I needed to leave, and was content to accept I knew my own limits enough to be happy for me to get back on my chair, and finish watching the match. I was brought water, and told to ask for anything I needed.

I wanted to mention that Progress do offer a free carer’s ticket, something I roundly praise promotions for doing, but, in the Ballroom, it only applies if you’re in the designated accessible area which is… the opposite side of the building from the accessible toilet and the bar. To access it from inside involves crossing the room and climbing some stairs, so access is via the outside of the building, which isn’t the best for those of us who struggle with walking distances. It’s also a small space, so would likely cause injury to myself and others were I to seize there. Therefore, this isn’t something we can take advantage of, but it may work for others. 9/10

Helena on her own is worth extra marks, frankly. I can’t thank her enough for the effort she puts in for my safety, and the genuine concern she has for me. +0.5 for an overall 9.5/10

Other Shows

I decided to wait for after Chapter 55: Chase The Sun at Alexandra Palace for this one, and am happy to announce that I don’t doubt Progress’ ability to look after the fans at any venue. We had a queue for guest list and disabled audience members, brilliant seats with an unobstructed view of the ring (aside from Social Media Adam’s back sometimes, but I’ll forgive him for that), and the first aiders were both femme, which is something I’ve previously asked about. The first aiders took the time to speak to me, to let me know they’d been briefed that I might topple off my chair and onto the floor, and to tell me they had the radar key for the disabled toilet.

Once more, I had signs on seats, I was near the toilet and first aiders, and the seat spacing was brilliant, meaning I had no fears of being able to get out and away from people if I needed. I felt looked after, safe, and home. With the venue holding almost three times as many people as usual at the Ballroom, things could have gone awry – they didn’t. 10/10

When people say Progress is a family, this is the sort of thing they mean. No one stood at stared any of the seizures I’ve had there, the ring crew stay back and listen to Emmy – yes, there’s some attention given to my issues, but that’s because it’s something I’d prefer people to be aware of. It’s also entirely possible to go to a Progress show and be invisible despite mobility issues if preferred. While the sheer scale of Ally Pally was a little overwhelming, I knew I was among friends. One thing I’ll always say about Progress is that no one has ever kicked my stick out by not looking where they’re going, which I can’t say about anywhere else. People don’t stand too close, people don’t tend to lean over you, it doesn’t feel like a threatening space, which is incredible. And something to be proud of.
Thank you, Progress. 9.9/10 – I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

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