Monday, June 9, 2008

Disability Access at Political Conventions

I've been remiss lately in writing about disability issues.   It's hard for me to write about, say, what happened in Commission meetings, since I have bad hearing and worse concentration.  We're working on getting regular minutes, which should help.  There have been developments in Salem I want to bring up.

But first, this article from Blue Mass Group.  The state Democratic party had its convention at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.  The only problem:  A disabled delegate could not be seated with the other members of her delegation.  David Eisenhal:

I attended the convention as one of three delegates from the Town of West Brookfield. One of the other members of the West Brookfield delegation is disabled and uses a wheelchair. While this delegate could get to many places within the Tsongas Arena, one of the places where she could not go was the area where our delegation was seated. Delegates from the Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin senate district (Sen. Steve Brewer) were placed in the stadium seating above the floor. There is simply no way for a wheelchair to navigate into this area. (And the DSC had been informed previously of the West Brookfield delegate's disability.

In political campaigning, accessibility is almost never considered.  A few years ago, John Donahue ran for mayor in Salem.  He held several of his major functions at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Salem Common, the same hall that hosts the Salem Senior Recognition Days dance.

At that time, it was not accessible to wheelchairs.

Our group held our dance in the K of C Hall because they offered us the space, but I was secretly ashamed for a few years until they finally got a ramp in 2007, after the Commission nagged them incessantly (and properly!)

Although I'm nominally a registered Democrat--since the Republicans are too small in number and in ideology to appeal to me--I'm not convinced that people with disabilities are anything more to a Democrat than another identity group to take for granted.

We do vote.  I'm not sure it matters a lot, but I am politically active and at the polls.

That delegate is owed an apology.

hat tip: Blue Mass. Group:: Disability Access at the Democratic State Convention

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