Sunday, January 11, 2009

Obama and Accessibility: A Disturbing Trend

While the Obama campaign was the first to articulate a disability platform (Obama had one from April, the McCain campaign added theirs in October) when it comes to accessibility, the welcome mat for the disability community has not been out...

The Obama campaign stated to Bad Cripple way back in the spring that "they were doing the best they could on accessibility." Sadly, this did not mean they were ensuring that campaign sites were accessible--it meant that sites might or might not be accessible, and that was ok with the campaign.

With that attitude it is little wonder that my friend Roving Activist had this experience back on December 30. An Obama Transition Team meeting on Healthcare Reform that is NOT accessible??? How can this be? Now the building should certainly be compliant with the ADA (and apparently has changes underway to rectify that), but checking to see that venues are accessible should also be the responsibility of Obama's people...

And now Planet of the Blind shares that ABC in VA is reporting that people with disabilities are actively being discouraged from attending the innauguration.

What if this were happening to any other minority?? Of course, it has in the past, but I mean now, in 2009?

I understand that they feel that this is a safety issue, but this is a safety issue because they have a lack-of-planning issue.

And they feel it is fine that they haven't planned proactively to for the inclusion of people with disabilities. After all, they aren't turning people away because they don't LIKE them... Some of their best friends have disabilities, I'm sure....

Psssst,note to Obama and team: Failing to plan is planning to fail--and when you're not including, you're excluding. (And don't tell me it's too hard, we KNOW you can overcome obstacles!)

Wheelie Catholic also has some things to say about this issue.

I sincerely hope that this is not what we can expect for the next 4 years.

Picture from here.


Wheelie Catholic said...

The Obama campaign HQ where I live was up a steep flight of steps. I tried to speak to several people going in there about how that excluded pwd, but only after I showed up with a camera and started taking pictures did anyone stop to speak to me.

I was not impressed by any of this and, although very well aware of the continuing and rampant access problems (not to mention transportation problems) pwd still face, disappointed as to how this has all been not handled . Last minute attempts followed by an "oops we can't do it" reaction, as Steve pointed out over at Planet of the Blind, are typical - but there's no real planning to include pwd in our infrastructure.

Louise said...

Wow! Good "Thinking", Terri.

Girl you have really got it going on for people with disabilities and other advocates!

What are the new numbers at

Are the numbers getting any better?

We really need to be working on our "Presence & Credence" in the new administration.

Terri said...

Ruth, It is so frustrating. While I know that the inauguration is way too big to address at this point, these serial incidents must not be ignored. Leadership needs to intentionally set culture and this culture needs to have inclusion of all as a priority.

Louise, thank you. Hearing from us is what will turn the tide. I agree: Presence-Credence-Influence!

Butterfly said...

Been coming across your blog on regular occasion.. A news alert delivered it yet again a little bit ago.. :)

Sorry in advance.. I get hoppin' on this topic..

This inauguration shtuff is just the latest.. A small handful or less of us took great heat over "encouraging" that the website include PWDs under the "People" category alongside Environmentalists and Big Labor.. Until that advocacy, PWDs were solely labeled as "Issues" on that website..

Re "it meant that sites might or might not be accessible, and that was ok with the campaign", yuppers.. I encountered that same precise *expressed* disregard for INCLUSION when I very publicly advocated to them that their highly touted, widely publicized "vote for change" registration drive........

Did not INCLUDE persons with disabilities in long term care facilities across our country, people who just plum did not have the means necessary to go to them for assistance in garnering their also Right to vote..

By email, I was told by a then recognizable Obama campaign representative that they'd.. sigh.. basically maybe get around to it some other time.........

Just and especially not on that most important of weekends for that particular campaign activity..

As to the inaugural's access status, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for them not already having this event accessible for ALL CITIZENS, regardless of perceived "status"..

Those of us who participated over at had additionally generated an involved campaign informing the Obama campaign of multi-faceted accessibility topics consciously representing accommodation for persons of all disabilities back in the middle'ish of 2008..

There has been plenty of time for them to have been making accessible accommodations available.. This topic is not new to them.

There is..



If it is indeed true that PWDs are disrespectfully being told to stay home with the children.....

Uh, uh.. :)

PS.. Transportation for the inauguration..? ALL they have to do is contact the organizers of the huge parades that occur across our nation every year.. I was a chairperson volunteer with the Atlanta Salute2America Parade for five years since 9-11.. Witnessed firsthand that those companies know how to move people through massive crowds in extremely large vehicles..

Nope, NO EXCUSE is acceptable for segregating persons with disabilities from the festivities a campaign championing anti-discimination is presenting on its own behalf. :)

Cyber hugs from North Georgia.. :)

william Peace said...

Terri, I just posted about this today. You are sadly correct that Obama now has had a series of failures in terms of providing access for people with disabilities. The inauguration is just the latest in line of needless and thoughtless actions. I am convinced there is a stark dichotomy between what Obama states about disability related issues and the nitty gritty reality as I know it. Policy papers are great but do not do much good when one cannot enter a meeting or attend an event. This is grossly unacceptable.

Terri said...

Butterfly, I agree and love your passion! Not only is there no excuse, there is no reason--what people decide they will do, they will do. What they decide they shouldn't have to do, they won't. The technology exists, the will does not.

William, I agree with you. The policy paper was written for the Obama campaign I believe. And who wouldn't agree with the principles of inclusion, choices, etc... but like the spiritually immature person loving the lofty sermon but not recognizing their opportunities for applying it, they don't see the disconnect.

william Peace said...

Terri, Do you really think Obama and his advisors do not see the disconnect between policy and physical access? I think they are aware of the disconnect and feel no compunction to do anything about it. This is just a hassle they don't want to deal with. The people Obama has selected to work on disability matters are quite good, many with experience during the Clinton administration.

Terri said...

William, I was thinking that the right hand just didn't know what the left was doing which is upsetting enough. The idea that they are aware and purposely ignoring the needs of people with disabilities never occurred to me--that possibility is infuriating. How can we have an impact if that is the case?

william Peace said...

Terri, I wish I knew how to connect with someone in the Obama administration. Emails simply have not worked. I am convinced access is simply not valued, it is a "problem", that no one cares about. I would like to believe the lack of access will be important at some point but I am doubtful this will ever be mentioned in the main stream media. I have thought long and hard about this and hope an opportunity will arise that can highlight the lack of access. When and where this opportunity will arise is unknown.