Preparations are done, alarm is set at 7.30 in the morning, data collection can finally start: It’s time for interviews!

Our supervisors suggested some potential participants whom we contacted and the first meeting is today. Arriving at the trainstation I am getting some nerves. It is my first time that I am going to interview someone who I do not know anything about. How is it going to be? Is it going to be awkward? Did I prepare well enough? Do we have enough to talk about? So many questions going through my head while waiting for the train.

That is why I read the interview guide like ten times over and over during the trip towards Tilburg. I can not imagine the scenes if I would ruin my first interview. Not only would I miss out on some interesting information, but also my confidence level could be affected for the next interviews that are planned.

Standing in front of the house, my nerves become worse. I walk towards the house, ring the doorbell and… the bell does not work. However the woman sees me walking towards the house so she’s already on her way to open the door. The door opens and I see the woman is sitting in a wheelchair. I was so busy trying to remember the interview guide that I totally forgot to check who I was meeting exactly. Smart.

We start talking and everything goes better than expected. Her husband also joins the conversation and the interview go smoother and smoother. During this interview I discovered so many new perspectives which I never thought of. Of course I knew common things like that someone in a wheelchair cannot get up the stairs and that he or she needs more space in the bathroom and toilet. But there are so many more things that have to be adapted for people with a disability. If you are in a wheelchair, mirrors and coat racks have to be lowered, as well as tables and the kitchen. Vacations have to be booked weeks in advance, because they have to arrange so many extra’s which take a lot of time.

After a conversation of nearly one and a half hour I am feeling so much richer in knowledge about people with a disability and accessible travel, and I am very curious about the other interviews in the coming weeks. I sometimes even catch myself checking if certain buildings and locations are wheelchair proof, focusing on specific characteristics I never even realized were there.

Written by: Billie van Hoeven