Over and over in the news and on the blogs we constantly are bombarded with information about how inaccessible the world is and even how hostile it can be towards people with disabilities. I’ve posted about hate crimes and health care, independent living (or lack thereof) and technology; even about how media doesn’t seem to “get” disability. Often people with disabilities find themselves frustrated by the fact that the world finds it conventient to ignore that we too are a thriving and vital part of humanity with something to contribute. Today, I want to take some time out to write a short note about something POSITIVE.
I’m talking about the White House Easter Egg Roll. This is “Day in Washington” so the content of this blog tends to focus on Washington, DC and policy. Around this time of year, one of the exciting things going on and buzzed about the city is the Easter Egg Roll. I bring it up because the Administration has gone out of its way to ensure that children with disabilities…that families who may have a member with a disability are just as welcome at this White House event.
On Monday, April 5th, 30,000 people from all 50 states and DC visited the South Lawn of the White House for this year’s Easter Egg Roll. This year’s activities reflected the theme, ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ which follows First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative – a national effort to combat childhood obesity.
To improve and expand on this annual tradition and ensure that children with disabilities were fully included:
1. The White House included “Chirping eggs” as a part of the Egg Hunt so children who are visually impaired will have the opportunity to participate.
2. Wheelchair matting was put down so the traditional Egg Roll would be accessible to children in wheelchairs
3. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are available at this year’s event so families who utilize sign language can be an active part of the event (You can just see one of them in the video posted to WhiteHouse.gov signing during StoryTime)
Although I’m sure there remains accessibility isssues with the White House Easter Egg Roll that still need to be addressed and I’m sure that throughout the day, with so many people, there were gaps in meeting people’s needs. But overall, I am buoyed by the fact that children with disabilities were considered during the planning of this event. It is a small victory and something we should celebrate. Too often while fighting the good fight, working to change the bigger picture, we forget to relish those small, seemingly insignificant wins. As advocates, and policymakers and yes, even lobbyists, perhaps more than other people, we need to remember that these little victories are the onces that can mean so much- especially to a 6 or 7-year-old kid with a disability. To have a wonderful day with their family, playing with the other kids…just like the other kids.