My friend and fellow disability rights blogger William Peace has a couple of posts over at his blog “Bad Cripple” which outline the apparent massive indifference of the Obama people and the Congressional transition people when it comes to assuring that the presidential inaugural events will be accessible to people with disabilities. In short: the official line is “stay at home” and one might as well add the phrase: “you people.”
Bill points out that he tried unsuccessfully to attend an Obama campaign event and you can read more about that over at his site. What’s clear is that whether we’re talking about campaign events or public ceremonies the de facto operating principle where ableist planners are concerned is to say “this isn’t our responsibility” –a time honored matter where disability and access are concerned no matter what the venue.
So there’s a gap between campaign positions (Obama has affirmed the rights of people with disabilities) and the facts as they appear on the ground. The ground of course is where pwds have to live, work, navigate, and prosper just like all citizens.
When you really think about it, leaving disabled people out of the planning means that the planning is guaranteed to be nothing more than a factory issue Pamplona style running of the bulls in which no citizen is treated with dignity. Or to spin this another way: if you’re making the transportation and the seating accessible you’re also creating dignified human spaces for all.
But the worst thing about this story is the cavalier rhetoric of the transition officials. Stay home means just what it means. And its demeaning as she goes.