A blog about universal and accessible design

Sunday, January 11, 2009

inaugural inaccessibility

Sounds like there is not very good planning/accommodations for people with disabilities at the inauguration:
ABC affliliate: Disabled Citizens Say Inauguration Events Too Difficult to Attend
Stephen Kuusisto comments:
As the above article suggests, people at the Obama inauguration committee say that they've done all they can do to make the proceedings accesible. I believe them though not because I think they've turned earth and sky upside down but because the relative "built in" inaccessibility of our nation's second rate public transportation system and our inability to build disability into the first tier of event planning are commonplace matters that all pwds can relate to. "Oh," someone says after the first plans for moving crowds and setting up seats, "Oh, yeah there will be disabled people, we better figure out what to do about them." By then its too late.

It seems like an extra disappointment because the DC Metro is one of the more accessible systems in America (maybe the world?). I also think this sets some really bad principles out for high-stress, emergency type situations like the WTC attacks and Katrina, where we have all seen that people with disabilities end up in way more danger than others. If you plan an event and just say "people with disabilities, we suggest you do not attend," you are not really confronting the real issues about what it is like to hold large, public events. Not to mention the symbolism of more or less disinviting disabled or older folks to what the new administration is claiming to be "the most open and accessible Inauguration in American history" (from a letter I received from Obama-Biden since I volunteered for their campaign). I really think we need to examine how logistical complications become an easy go-to for exclusion or prejudice in "homeland security" contexts.

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