by: Summer Cepeda
Why I Went
Typically when I travel I am not really concerned about how to enter places or what I would do in an emergency. But, for some people it is a true day-to-day consideration in their travel no matter how close or far from home. For any business it is important to understand inclusiveness – or how accommodating a location is to people of varying abilities. This is what my research in Glasgow was about - gathering information on how inclusive mass crowd venues are for disabled patrons.
My research was conducted under Kelly Tian and Stacey Baker’s Sustainable Business Practice Initiative. Before leaving for Scotland, Kelly had me and other researchers in for a workshop – she told us to conduct our research in an ethnographic manner. Essentially, we were told to put ourselves into the shoes of a person who is visually, audibly or mobile disabled. We were taught to consider things we wouldn’t normally consider: things like doors having handles instead of knobs, or signs having braille or auditory aids, and overall gather information about a venue being a safe mass crowd situation for all.
Where I Went
The first venue for my research was in the airport. I travelled between three different airports: Denver International Airport, London Heathrow, and Glasgow International Airport. I noticed that because airports are possibly the most critical mass crowd venues they are very inclusive. Every airport had aids to assist those with hearing, vision or mobility impairment and provided a safe emergency situation for all patrons. However, London Heathrow and Glasgow International were a little unclear with the location of their disabled toilets and didn’t have disabled stalls in their general restrooms.
While I was in Glasgow I also observed sustainable practices of different venues. As a city they have an incredibly easy to use public transport system, which limits the vehicles on the road. But, in each place I visited I didn’t record any really sustainable practice – besides a few venues that provided recycling. The SSE Hydro, which is a concert venue, newly built and fitted with NASA material on the outside, was a structure I thought to be very sustainable. However, the administrators of the building vaguely stated that it was designed to reduce energy consumption.
What I Learned
While doing our research in our given cities we were asked to gather our data and also give ourselves restrictions. We were told to not eat nuts or avoid nuts while on our trip to simulate a nut allergy, to not use a GPS one day, not use English, along with other activities that would hinder what would be a seamless trip. The one activity that really gave me an idea of what it’s like to not be fully able-bodied was not using my dominant hand. It was incredibly difficult doing tasks that I typically did without a second thought – things like using a fork, or signing a check suddenly became impossible tasks.
Doing these things in a different country also presented some challenges and offered some observations on the differences in mass crowd venues. Glasgow itself is an incredibly old city and most of its beloved structures are historical and not retrofitted to be more inclusive. The University of Glasgow was an incredible place, built in 1451, and there’s a strong culture of historical preservation on the campus. Because the building is such an old structure there are barely any elevators and even some signs aren’t fitted with braille.
This was the theme amongst many of the older buildings in Glasgow (which was a large concentration). A majority of the buildings downtown have been there since the city’s beginning. A lot of building entrances downtown didn’t have ramps for wheelchairs and were somewhat difficult to navigate if you had a physical impairment. There were some exceptions where establishments retrofitted their buildings in order to be more inclusive but most had preserved their historical layout.
Why I'm Thankful
Not only did I learn so much about what it means to be an able-bodied person and the day-to-day challenges that people face when traveling, but also I learned so much about a beautiful and historic city. Glasgow, Scotland is full of amazing architecture and wonderful people – everyone was so friendly and helpful. Traveling alone and putting yourself in situations where you don’t use every facet of your abilities really makes you think about how fortunate you are.
I am truly fortunate to have been a part of the Sustainable Business Practices Initiative at the College of Business. Kelly and Stacey really gave me the experience of a lifetime. I learned so much about marketing in the classroom, but being able to research and see sustainable business practices on an international scale really opened my eyes. Just because we graduate from the University of Wyoming doesn't mean we can't make a difference globally!
Do you want to know more about the Sustainable Business Practices Initiative?
Do you just want to see more pictures I took from Glascow?
Whatever it is, I would love to share more with you about my trip so please feel free to comment on this post!