Inauguration Access

From a recent article in the Baltimore Examiner:

Those with physical disabilities will find Barack Obama’s inauguration all but inaccessible, and organizers are concerned that people with disabilities may be forced to stay home.

According to a release from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies — the group responsible for the details of Obama’s swearing-in — parking restrictions near the Capitol include cars with disability plates or tags. Drop-off points for the disabled will be located several blocks away, and “traffic conditions and restrictions may make reaching these drop-off locations extremely difficult.”

For readers/listeners of Day in Washington who may be attending Inauguration and have concerns please follow the information below.

For all access issues related to the swearing-in ceremony, please refer to JCCIC (Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies). The designated access person is David Hauck and he can be reached Monday – Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm at 202-224-4048 (voice) and 202-224-4049 (TTY).

Day in Washington #31 (Election Day and the Disability Vote)

Day in Washington:  The Disability Policy Podcast explores and discusses various aspects of disability policy. Each episode will cover a specific issue within disability, and/or a disability-related news article. These 5-10 minute podcasts offer an easy to understand introduction to disability policy and resources for those interested in further study. You can find the text of this podcast in the previous post. If you have difficulty downloading the podcast, please right-click and save it to your computer for playback.

Episode Summary: This episode is more a reflection on the importance of the disability vote in this election and an opportunity for me to express my excitement at this amazing time we live in.

Audio File: Day in Washington #31 (Election Day and the Disability Vote)

Resources:

Just as a reminder  – Yes, We Can.  Yes, We Did.  And We’re Only Getting Started!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY]

 

Election Day and the Disability Vote

It isn’t often that I indulge in the excitement that permeates politics but today it is difficult to remove oneself from the tension. Election 2008. The entire nation is churning with the excitement and energy of an election that many call historical. (Just as a quick note – It was pointed out to me by one of our Public Affairs experts that it is usually considered melodramatic to call something “historical” as it is difficult to guage whether something truly is historic or not until well after the fact). But I refuse to let that dampen the mood.

This is it! In an election that has been dynamic and electrifying, where the disability community has, perhaps for the first time been actively courted as a constituency, tonight is the night. This is when wheelchairs will roll up ramps to polling stations, visually impaired voters will have the ability to use electronic voting machines, individuals dexterity issues, individuals developmental disabilities, all of the community, will be speaking out and their votes will be counted. The disability vote will be cast.

For the first time, a candidate had a specific disability platform, for the first time candidates stepped beyond health care and attempted to address other disability issues such as the rampant unemployment and concerns with special education. Although I cringe at the term, “special needs,” for the first time, they are trying to get it right, and for the first time candidates for the Presidency of the United States are listening to the disability community.

They hear what is needed and for the first time are considering that this is a community whose needs should be addressed. Not out of pity, or out of any moral social obligation but because these individuals with disabilities are VOTERS! They are constituents with the power to affect the voting outcome on a national level.

Tonight we will see exactly what a difference it will make.

Suicide for People with Disabilities

Considering that this blog is primarily focused on disability policy issues, it is rare that I choose to step beyond analysis and thoughtful discussion of law and rights into the arena of personal opinion, particularly when it comes to specific controvercial issues.  However, the following news articles caught my attention and rather surprised me with my own emotional response.

Having been someone with a disability for almost 15 years and considering myself a successful and happy individual overall, I have to admit that it still shocks me when I see and hear people say things like, “I would rather die than live with a disability.”  It is more than shock, I find it disturbing.  Why?  Because it negates my entire life.  It is like saying everything I’ve done and everything I do now, as a person with a disability, my life, is meaningless. It isn’t worth living.

The following video is from Saturday on CNN. My apologies in that I haven’t completed a transcript yet, but I will get it up as soon as I have completed it. In short, the story is about a young man, 23 years old, who after being paralyzed from the chest down, a year later travelled to Switzerland to take his own life.  Why?  He didn’t want to live a “second class existence.”

Thoughts? Comments? Right now, I just wish the young man had had the opportunity to really talk to other people with disabilities. Those who’ve been there and who can relate and can let him know that there is so much more to living than just a “fully functioning” body. The waste, makes me angry and the fact that there is a debate around the issue makes me even angrier. The assumption is that without a fully functioning body, people (and people with disabilities) have nothing to contribute to society and this world.  

You can watch the video below and find out more at:  http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/10/18/uk.switzerland.assisted.suicide/index.html