Thursday, January 15, 2009

Attending the Inauguration: More Challenging for Some

President-elect Obama's team got high marks from disability groups for their policies and for making their campaign and transition materials accessible with technology, captioning, and other accommodations. But many are concerned about the challenges disabled people will face when trying to attend the largest Inauguration of all time. From the Los Angeles Times, read "People with Disabilities Expect Big Challenges at Inauguration, Despite Accommodations."

Being in Washington and hearing every day about the anticipated crowds, bridge closings, and other challenges, I'm not inclined to complain about the lack of accommodation. One recent article said to treat this the same way you would for a major blizzard. Go out if you must, but the crowds and weather will make it particularly challenging -- and possibly dangerous -- for children, older people, and people with disabilities.

They expect Sunday's big concert at the Lincoln Memorial (with Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Stevie Wonder, and others) to draw at least 500,000 people -- similar to a Fourth of July gathering, something I've chosen to avoid for several years. Tuesday's Inauguration is expected to attract at least four times that number. Just like I would be reluctant to take my 5-year-old daughter to a mobbed, sweltering July 4th celebration on the Mall, there's no way I'd subject her to the crowds and freezing temperatures on Tuesday.

On Sunday, though, we're going to the Children's Inaugural Ball, sponsored by Every Child Matters. Public transportation will be busy, but (we hope) manageable.

What are your plans?
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