Accessibility is something most people take for granted. Most people in my experience consider something accessible even if it is an extra step for the person with a disability. Most people think one ramp or one entrance is enough. They think they can just add a ramp made of plywood and that will be enough to consider it an accessible space.
Both Congressman Jim Langevin and Senator Tammy Duckworth addressed that the Capitol building was accessible, but that there is still a lot of work to be done that could improve accessibility on Capitol Hill. I remember I took a trip in eighth grade, and since I was able to get inside I considered it accessible. I never thought about the fact that there might not be accessible bathrooms on every floor.
I have had friends who visited their congressman on Capitol Hill, and I didn't even think about the possibility that doors were not wide enough to fit a wheelchair through. I always figured when I was younger that of course government buildings were wheelchair accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been around my entire life. I thought it was typical for government buildings.
It wasn't until college that I had to learn to navigate traveling in an area. The reality is that the Americans with Disabilities Act is just a base framework in terms of disability rights.
My heart sank when I thought about how they mentioned how the evacuation procedures were a joke. I have had my share of dark humor during a drill that if there was an actual emergency I would be screwed. My mind instantly thought of the insurrection on January 6, 2021. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief that these two members of Congress were safe.
Another aspect of accessibility is the ability to afford the best medical equipment. It made me think of all of the different options the wheelchair catalogs offer when they come to evaluate me for a new chair. There are certain features that I have to get insurance approval for to get them included. True accessibility would be for everyone with any level of insurance to be able to get the equipment they need to survive.
People with disabilities should be able to live full lives without depending on the kindness of strangers.
Photo by clemtheriez courtesy of Pixabay
Stephanie Wyatt has Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual wheelchair. She spends her free time hanging out with her best friend Carmen and her dog Ama Angelica.