These narratives concern the experiences of delegates who attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (unless otherwise noted). They were typed by the respondent and provided to me by email, unless otherwise noted. The oldest story is at the bottom of the page, the newest data is at the top of the page; they are in reverse order. My experience can be found at THIS LINK.
Initial Response to Data Collected so Far I already have a theory about the data, before any technical analysis. The usefulness of support and/or services a person with disabilities received at the Democratic National Convention (or other Democratic Party venue) is on a continuum from empowering to useless; the relationship to any causal factor is entirely random, that is, it is based on luck. If a person was lucky, they worked with a person who was knowledgeable, a problem solver, or a go-getter. If the person was not lucky, they worked with someone who was clueless, un-motivated or passive. It will be interesting to see if this theory holds up as more evidence/data is collected.
Respondent 007 Nico Serra [8/20/16 Interview transcribed and edited by Shelley Pineo-Jensen, Ph.D.]
Identity / ADA issues Mobility impaired in a power chair Was a public school teacher – trained educator – thinks of informing and advocating as teaching moments and opportunities for improvement
There are 47 million disabled Americans – and that does not include all the people who have impairment.
Inviting people to participate involves . . . bring in people who are alter-abled – have much to offer – but some people are too medically fragile to survive the experience.
Gender dysphoria is covered under ADA. Intersex – 32 intersex conditions (not counting hormonal) biological between male or female (may not be visible at birth, but have a biological condition). Transgender can be seen as a neurological transition. Oregon has a law that says you be non-binary gender.
Issues at the convention and other Democratic Party events that were related to logistics are easy to fix.
All people with mobility impairments were in the same boat – whether they were Sanders supporters, Clinton supporters, or members of the media. At the convention respondent was in communication with/observed two delegates also in wheelchairs from Idaho and one from Washington who also had a tough time. Additionally, had conversations with/observed a CP [?] media person had similar issues.
The lack of training of the ADA volunteers was evident.
We can sometimes see the harm that is done to people with visible disabilities (people in wheel chairs for example) by challenges that are easily navigated by the able bodied, but we ignore the needs of people with “invisible” disabilities (or worse, we disparage them.)
The only way that humanity is what it is - we have to work cooperatively with one another. We have roles to play. Hoarding wealth is not sharing – which is the opposite of what we need to do to survive, as a species. Hoarding of resources by the able-bodied (i.e. shoving ahead to stand in the wheel chair slots on a shuttle bus) deprives less-than-fully-able-bodied to equal access to political participation (as seen in the lower voter turnout for the ADA community and lack of access to the Democratic National Convention).
Respondent suggests placing a volunteer meet wheel chair and other mobility impaired people at the entrance to help them navigate the chaos and provide chairs at the golf cart drop off point – not hundreds of feet away. They could have (has helped with rallies) people on the outside who are looking for ADA people – have an ADA sign – having coordinators a wheelchair so people can get resources.
Respond suggests a platform for people in wheel chairs so they could see over standing people. It is expected that audience members will stand multiple times in support of speakers, so providing a way for people in wheel chairs to see is appropriate.
The inauguration is coming up – we should be planning for that now – we could see improvements.
Personal Report Getting to the Hotel Was in touch with the Hillary Campaigns Disability Action for Hillary - Accessibility Team was at his hotel. The Democratic Party of Oregon helped him get set up to get to the hotel from the airport. Otherwise he would have been stranded with a $100 cab ride.
Getting credentials for mobility assistant Credentials for his caregiver was difficult. Our caregivers may also have health issues and this takes a hit on them. Having our caregivers have to go to a different location to pick up credentials was challenging. That was 30 miles away for his mobility assistant/caregiver, which given the nature of the respondent’s health issues, was out of the question. His caregiver was not able to abandon his charge to travel 30 miles two ways in Philly and wait in line, etc. (i.e. Be gone for hours). Respondent appealed to his delegation for help and was able to get other people (a super delegate and a congress person) to pick up the credentials for his assistant.
Shuttle bus woes Respondent attended an important caucus on Day One. Afterwards there were no adequate busses for anyone. People in chairs were corralled together (by the respondent himself) where they waited outside in the heat for at least an hour. Their water ran out. Some people in chairs actually passed out from the heat waiting for the shuttles. It was hard to get to get on the bus – only two spots were available for chairs. Abled people flooded the buses taking up the spaces for the people in chairs. So that meant that there was an even longer wait. No one was attending to the ADA people or managing the abled people.
While he was using the shuttle on day one, he observed another person (P1) in a chair waiting in the heat who at one point gave up his wheel chair so he could walk onto the bus and get out of the debilitating heat. This individual then had to walk a couple hundred feet from the shuttle drop off to security, where there were no wheel chairs, then to the waiting spot for golf cars, where, there were no chairs and also no queue or other management of the line. More walking after the golf carts dropped folks off hundreds of feet from the disability entrance.
Respondent made a video recording of one day’s problems on the shuttles to the convention. [Link will be provided soon.]
Provisions for boarding people in wheel chairs and other mobility impaired individuals were not worked out in advance. Ad hoc decisions were made within the ADA community for form and alternative line, and they attempt to get on the busses first, but abled people forged ahead past them and used up the spaces allotted for wheel chairs. There are only two wheel chairs spots available per bus. Some buses did not have even these accommodations. You cannot fold up a power chair and some of the ramps and lifts were not large enough to accommodate even a narrow power chair, requiring that the chair be partially disassembled while able bodied people waited impatiently to board. He observed one person (who is paralyzed) who had to be removed from his chair and carried on and off the shuttle because the driver did not know how to use the lift or it was broken. Every time the lift was in use a loud obnoxious sounding alarm sounded adding to the annoyance of heat debilitated people of all abilities. This is particularly damaging to people with seizure disorder – some of them are very vulnerable to loud sounds.
Getting from the shuttles to the convention floor Getting into the convention was really hard. There were ramps with cutouts but there were metal barricades in the middle of the ramps that were almost impossible to navigate – too narrow of a space – and the able bodied people were there too, filling the space. No special access for ADA was secured prior to the event and so in every case, whether for a ramp or for an elevator, ability challenged individuals competed with the abled bodied.
Non-delegates had even less support. His ability challenged friend (P2) could not be dropped off where the delegates were deposited and had to go a mile and half from the drop spot to the WF Center.
Convention access The convention center was way overcrowded and it was very difficult to get around inside the convention center. The cable covers were really difficult to get over, even in a power chair – and several of these obstacles were positioned right outside the ADA entrance.
Getting through the hallways was a total disaster – respondent used a loud clicker to call attention to his need for passage but also had to shout many times to get people out of the way.
Every time respondent went to the restrooms people were using the ADA stalls for private space to use non-toilet related business such as using a cell phone. He started using the women’s room because it was just easier. He’s trans so it was not a big stretch. That worked out fine.
There were major issues getting into the delegation seats. He was not permitted to sit with his Oregon delegation. He was directed to a space in the middle of Washington delegation where he was perceived as a burden. The people who attempted to assist the ADA section wanted to stack people in wheelchairs in there very tight – which was a fire hazard – and respondent resisted and became the ad hoc “ADA coordinator for this section.” The media and other self-designated “important people” began using the section as a short cut - hitting delegates in the head with cameras from time to time – and Nico eventually resisted and blocking the entrance with his chair to protect and give space to the ADA people herded together.
Had been offered an opportunity to speak or appear on stage – but after the ordeal of Monday (stranded in the heat) could not do it. He needed his partner with him at all times (GI track, paralyzed stomach, an hour or two every day or two with his caregiver). He was able to participate in the roll call vote with Oregon by parking himself adjacent to the delegation. When he went back to the ADA section of Washington state, people would not move to let him in because they wanted to be able to vote with their delegation. He had to yell – he lost it – “If you care about disabilities . . . and they still wouldn’t move” so he got the media to start recording and then the people finally moved.
Trying to leave the Wells Fargo Center On Monday respondent’s friend with disability – upset over the Harkin ADA speech which was such a mismatch over what was happening to ADA people at the convention – attempted to leave the convention early and go back to the hotel to recover. She was told that it would be a four or five hour wait in the heat to use the shuttles to get back to the hotel. (This was not as advertised – we were told there would be shuttles to and from the hotels all day.) There was no accommodation to transport people back to the hotels if they needed to leave early. Her misadventures getting back to the hotel took a great deal of recovery; she stopped coming until Thursday.
On the last day, respondent was trying to get to the delegate buses after the convention was over. Respondent was with a blind delegate and a person who could not walk, in a chair, and joined by Bernie people with green shirts. They were trying to get out of the building but the corridor was stopped, blocked by a mass of people. This was during a time when Bernie people were being physically assaulted - he saw Bernie delegates being hit on the head with Hillary signs. So that was the vibe and he and his companions wanted to get out of there.
He pushed, clicked and shouted to create a passage to the front, forming a caravan of people who were disabled, adding them to his caravan as he forced a path way for his ADA brigade.
He chanted/led a chant of “Unity starts tonight, let’s work together, the chairs are going first” using his clicker to force a space. Finally, he came to a place where there were police. The police said “Wheel chairs coming through, get out of the way, make a space.” At the doors he was able to get people hold the doors and got all those mobility-impaired folks out of the building. When they got through to the doors - there was nothing happening, no reason for the stop of traffic flow – just people milling around blocking the doors.
Recovering from the convention was like recovering from surgery – that level of a hit on the body. Slept for a week.
Empowerment – resisting oppression For the respondent, that was the greatest thing that happened – actual unity. Another high point was a conversation with a person of color, who complimented him on his positive action to help his ADA convoy out of the building – the person said that respondent was better than a person in a chair who ran over his foot, how that person was rude about it. In that conversation, respondent was able to ask the person of color if a white person had ever tried to claim that they knew what it was like to be oppressed/marginalized as a person of color when really, they have no idea. The man told respondent that he did experience it. Respondent was able to help the man recognized that as an able-bodied person, he was not able to truly know what the experience is like for a person who is forced to use a wheel chair to participate in a political convention. “I know what it’s like” is so untrue . . . this was a validating conversation for the respondent.
Respondent 006 Lamar White, Jr. [Article published about the Democratic National Convention in the Disability Advocacy Associates Newsletter 8/10/16]
Disability Advocacy Associates Charter Members: Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D., LL.M, P.D. - New Jersey/ Carole Sevely, M.B.A., LL.M. - New York/ Stacy Edgcombe Coleman, M.A., LL.M. –Michigan/ Dr. Frank Rusch, Ph.D. - Pennsylvania State University NEWSLETTER AUGUST 10, 2016 HOW THE DNC FAILED DISABLED DELEGATES AND ATTENDEES by Lamar White
Last week in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Convention Committee hosted what it promised would be “the most accessible convention ever.”
“The DNCC has made accessibility an integral part of all aspects of Convention planning since its arrival in Philadelphia, from transportation and housing to designing the traffic flow at Convention events,” it boasted in a press release. Unfortunately, though, the best laid plans too often go awry.
I have lived all 34 years of my life as a disabled American (I was born with cerebral palsy), and this year’s DNC was one of the least accessible events I’ve ever attended. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts and festivals and conferences and sporting events. I’ve even been to another DNC, 2008 in Denver. The least accessible event of all-time, at least for me? The 2015 Duck Commander NASCAR 500 (Don’t ask why I was there; they certainly didn’t bother to wonder either). But this year’s DNC comes in at a close second. I am not the only person with a disability to come away with the same conclusion.
“Visually impaired delegates told BuzzFeed News the Democratic National Convention has done a dismal job of accommodating them, despite the party boasting about the event’s accessibility,” reported Emma Loop.
There are countless other stories.
In many ways, the Democratic Party is a victim of its own success.
This year, there was a 35% increase of disabled delegates and participants over 2012, which is commendable. But clearly, neither the DNC nor the venue planned for this contingency. They should have. They knew we were going to be there. On instruction, I waited alone for more than an hour for an official DNC accessible shuttle to pick me up from the airport on Sunday before giving up and hailing a cab. Gilda Reed, a Bernie Sanders delegate from Louisiana (and pictured with me in the featured image on this post), spent even more time waiting for accessible transportation to bring her back to the hotel on Monday night; she finally returned at 1:30 in the morning.
On Tuesday, when the DNC beautifully paid tribute to the Americans with Disabilities Act and recognized disabled activists, I was 200 yards away, in the XFiniti Live! center, having been told that the ADA sections were too packed to allow my friend to sit next to me. At a big event, it’s usually not a good idea for a guy in a wheelchair to be stranded (though, to be fair, some people are more skilled at negotiating a wheelchair than I’ve ever been).
Merely entering the convention was a hassle: The handicapped entrance was pocketed with landmines of cables from news vans. The disabled seating sections were not properly staffed or coordinated. On Tuesday night, Wednesday, and Thursday, I found a spot behind the Louisiana delegation, one of only a handful of ADA sections in the venue. But that particular section was also smack-dab in the middle of Washington State’s delegation, which meant that their floor leaders assumed responsibility for all of us. This was unfair to the good people from Washington, who wanted, first and foremost, to ensure that they could manage their own affairs. Suddenly and without warning, they were now also responsible for also keeping track of disabled delegates and attendees from all over the country, and without question, it became a source of frustration for them. It was unfair to everyone else as well. Typically, ADA sections are staffed by either by the venue itself or the event’s sponsors. That didn’t happen like it should have last week. Don’t get me wrong: It was an absolute privilege and an honor to see Secretary Clinton make history last week in Philadelphia, and I am thankful that the Democratic Party champions the rights of people living with disabilities. Indeed, it is one of the reasons that I am a Democrat. But they - we – must do a better job in the future.
Respondent 005 Ariella Barker [Article published about a Clinton campaign events in Rhode Island and North Carolina in the Disability Advocacy Associates Newsletter 8/8/16; also published The MIghty (We face disability, disease and mental illness together) with Joseph Batiano under the title To the Politicians Who Forget Voters With Disabilities Are the Largest Minority 8/22/16]
Disability Advocacy Associates Charter Members: Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D., LL.M, P.D. - New Jersey/ Carole Sevely, M.B.A., LL.M. - New York/ Stacy Edgcombe Coleman, M.A., LL.M. –Michigan/ Dr. Frank Rusch, Ph.D. - Pennsylvania State University NEWSLETTER AUGUST 8, 2016 The Second Class Citizen Dilemma by Ariella Barker
Ariella Barker (BBA, JD) is a North Carolina Attorney who has been Wheelchair Bound since Childhood A leading Professional, She has not escaped the unintended discrimination that confronts Citizens with Disabilities
At the age of eleven, I lost the ability to walk. That same year, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and I finally had the legal authority to fight for my rights. My public school and small rural town were inaccessible, but I fought to make the school and town ADA complaint by providing accessible bathrooms, curb cuts, ramps and elevators.
In my early years of being disabled, although confined to a wheelchair, I was fully self-sufficient. I went to Emory's business and law schools, moved to NYC to represent the City of NY and Mayor Bloomberg and ultimately moved to Israel for several years. However, while in Israel, I became chronically ill, which forced me to move home to NC with my family, be in and out of the hospital and ultimately go on disability.
Suddenly, I realized just how hard it is to be severely disabled in this country. Healthcare is a huge financial burden (even with ObamaCare), long-term care, including personal care attendants, aren't covered by insurance, which has forced me and millions of others to rely on aging family members to survive, we can't get married without losing our benefits.
People with disabilities comprise 20% of the population. The challenges we face range from the mundane to the shocking. (Long-term care not being covered by insurance to nearly 30% of us living in poverty, greater than any other minority) While appropriate policy could make a vast difference in our lives, our politicians largely ignore us. Even when discussing diversity, they leave out any mention of us or our issues.
This election season, we heard Donald Trump openly mocked us and deny us ADA access and ASL interpreters at his rallies. Hillary Clinton, however, included disability issues in every debate, platform speech, ad campaign and literature.
So I soon became very involved in the Clinton campaign, fighting for the candidate who said she was going to fight for us. (And against a candidate who was treating us as sub-human.) I became a HillRaiser, raising money for the campaign. I volunteered by writing social media posts about Hillary focusing on disability issues. I wrote op-eds and blogs singing her praises. I constantly posted positive information about her and disability issues. I spent so much time and effort volunteering through research and writing that the disability committee offered to putting me in a somewhat administrative position and interview me on their Facebook site, of which I happily accepted.
Part of my volunteer work for Hillary was that every time someone messaged me with one nightmare story after another about the inaccessibility of her rallies, I bridged the gap with them to keep them in the fold. But I soon realized that this was happening way too often.
I met JJ, a deaf father from Rhode Island who sent me the following letter:
"At the rally, I displayed my affection for Hillary with my shirt that said, “IM WITH HER,” with a selfie of the two of us. My daughter, too, had a shirt with a selfie and a sign that said, “fighting for us,” It was wonderful being in the presence of those who loved and believed in Hillary as much as I. But that heart-warming experience turned into heartbreak.
Upon arrival to the gym, I was placed in the back of the stage. After talking with the campaign staff, they agreed to move me to the front, so I could see the interpreter. However, one campaign staff member complained about the 'optics' of having the interpreter in the screen shot, which, in her opinion, would be displeasing to the eye." I couldn't help but remember how it wasn't so long ago that disabled people themselves were moved out of view because we were displeasing to the eye.”
JJ and I communicated with Clinton staffers, who promised him this would never happen again. But sadly, it did.
When news came out that Clinton and President Obama were coming to my hometown, Charlotte, NC, I was elated. I emailed my campaign contact to ask if I could volunteer. I heard nothing in response.
On Tuesday, I arrived right when doors opened at 1:00 and was one of the first to enter. I wanted to sit in the ADA section, as is my right. The moment I entered, once I arrived to the stage, I was informed that the ADA section was full and that I would have to go to the back of a standing room location, oddly reminiscent of Rosa Parks. Before I could move, that same volunteer permitted able-bodied people into the ADA section. In fact, the ADA section was completely filled with nondisabled supporters. Again, it was the optics.
I understood the feeling of being treated like a second-class citizen, forced to the back of the room. It was incredibly disheartening, especially because it was the result of a campaign that purported to be so inclusive of persons with disabilities. Just as JJ had informed Clinton staffers about his exclusion, I did too.
A few nondisabled super volunteers apologized and promised to work on this issue in NC in the future. But this is a nation-wide issue. And, frankly, people with disabilities are tired of having nondisabled people speak for us and tell us how they're fixing our issues. We want a seat at the table. We want a national disability caucus, the same as the African American, Latino and LGBT groups have their own caucuses. We make up the largest minority in this country, and, yet, no one knows this because we are flatly ignored. We deserve the right to participate in the political process just like every other group of people.
So, to the politicians who think people with disabilities are insignificant and our votes don't matter: we make up 20% of your electorate. Don't expect to gain our vote with lip service and empty promises. Show us that you recognize that without us, your campaigns are weaker. Don't put us in the back of the room like second class citizens. Don't block us from seeing an ASL interpreter, and for heaven's sake, don't pull a Trump and mock us. Like every other minority, you need us to strengthen your campaign. So, let us, indeed, be "Stronger Together," or else, come November, certain politicians will realize they were, indeed, weaker divided.
Respondent 004 [Letter to Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee about services provided for New Jersey Delegates to the Democratic National Convention]
New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) Disability Caucus Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro July 28, 2016
Dear Chairman Currie: Thank you for your continued, outstanding service as our Chair. The members of our Disability Caucus and I would like to file a protest and insist that action be taken against the private company that profited from the "Celebrate New Jersey" fiasco. Although the private company claims to be non-partisan, we received promotional messages from both the NJDSC and members of the State Legislature, encouraging us to purchase the $125 Celebrate NJ guest passes. We were also promised shuttle service between the Hotel and the Convention Center. Furthermore, we were instructed via the website that we would have access to a daily bus from Paramus to the Philadelphia Convention, as well as shuttle service between the hotel and the Convention Center.
However, those of us who traveled to the Convention Hotel on Monday, took the shuttle to the Convention Center, after being told by the Democratic Party staff and the Celebrate NJ Staff that the shuttle would take us back to the hotel at 2:00 pm, following the workshop that we attended. Yet, as we waited for the bus at 2:00 pm, in the 100 degree heat, we were told that no such bus would appear; it had been diverted to the Wells Fargo Center, instead. We had no way to travel back to the Hotel or find any transportation to leave the site.
Two elderly New Jersey Convention attendees became seriously ill from possible heat stroke, as they waited. Now, as we prepared for another day trip today (Thursday) we found out, by contacting Michael Spadoro, that the PARAMUS bus had been cancelled, despite the widely advertised announcement prior to the convention that the bus would be would be available. Those of us who do not drive because of a disability (letter from the NJ Commission for the Blind attached) were, thus, unable to attend, despite having purchased the guest passes and despite our commitment to support the NJDSC.
As I have said in the past, the NJDSC has not been committed to the disability community, despite that fact that our Party claims to be the Party of Inclusion. As you know, this is not the first time that there has been poor treatment of our Disability Caucus and the disability Community, as a whole. Originally, we were contacted via email messages from the NJDSC, itself, and other email messages from Democratic members of the State Legislature, imploring us to purchase the “Celebrate New Jersey” services. This complaint is not about money, but it concerns the lost opportunity for Democratic street workers to participate in the Convention.
The misleading and false information that was delivered by both “Celebrate New Jersey Now” and certain elements of the NJDSC includes the following:: The following is posted on the NJDSC Progressive Caucus Facebook Page; "To anyone interested in attending the #DNC next week, be sure to sign up for a guest pass through Celebrate New Jersey Now! This pass will grant you access to breakfasts, caucuses, day trips, receptions, transportation and much, much more! We hope to see you at the #DemConvention next week".
The amenities that are listed and were originally offered were not delivered to many who purchased the Guest Pass. Transportation was the most obvious item that was not offered, with the Paramus Bus being cancelled without notice, along with the shuttle service from the hotel to the Convention center - that left many stranded and nearly killed two elderly senior citizens in the 100 degree heat - And without the promised Paramus Bus, there was no way for Guest Pass purchasers, especially those with disabilities, to receive the other amenities that they paid for. Perhaps the most egregious violation is that they were denied access to the Convention, itself.
In response to the question about whether the package included Housing, the “NJDSC Progressive Caucus” provided the following answer: “NJDSC Progressive Caucus Sadly not, but you can sign up for CNJ's hotel room package here: http://celebratenjnow.com/satellite-hotel-lottery/ If you can't afford the hotel room package, there's free transportation from New Brunswick, Cherry Hill and Paramus every morning.”
Transportation was definitely not provided every morning.
We look forward to discussing this issue with you at your earliest convenience. Please note that we will, not meet with a surrogate.
Sincerely, Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D., LL.M., P.D., Chair NJDSC Disability Caucus Psycho-Educational Diagnostician Disability Law and Policy Specialist CC Michael Spadoro Ethan Anderson
Respondent 003 Regarding convention .... I'm sorry to hear others had a more negative story. I found the staff very accommodating and helpful. At Wells Fargo they had me go in a side door so I did not have to climb the steps to get onto the floor where the PA delegation was. Got a wheel chair for me if needed (I try to use a cane as much as I can), pushed me to golf carts to take me to the buses. Monday I was trying to go from the convention center to Wells Fargo ... Everyone was pushing and shoving and rude. I went inside to ask what to do .... A gentleman took me outside, had people back up and he walked me onto a bus. I couldn't be happier with the staff or accommodations. I wish everyone would have had this same experience.
Respondent 002 [Report is about the Colorado State Convention] Paul Skizinski In response to [Respondent 001], I’d like to add that I had a similar experience at the Colorado State Convention. (I didn’t make it to the National Convention.) I wasn’t in my wheelchair, but walking (not very well) with a cane. I had called ahead to learn about accommodations for handicapped, and was told everything was accessible. Not! I could not sit with my county, but was offered a seat in the balcony, which I could access by elevator. I could see and hear, but I was a long way from my group, and a long way from the stage. Then when it was time to vote, no one came with ballots. I had to find my way to the main floor and all the way to the front to obtain my ballot.
Bottom line: We have a long way to go to accommodate the mobility challenged.
Respondent 001 Sage TeBeest I would love to give feedback concerning my experience at the convention. I was very disappointed in the accommodations made for delegates needing wheelchair access. I had been contacted by the DNC multiple weeks prior, and each week up to, the convention about what accommodations I needed. I asked if I was going to be segregated from my delegation because part of the experience is being there with your delegation. They said they would place our delegation on the floor to accommodate the wheelchair access.
Needless to say we were surprised to find us not only in the bleachers, but in the middle. I was not able to sit with my delegation and spent most of my time sitting in the breezeway. The best solution they could come up with was for me to sit in the accessible seating in the guest section (aka rafters), but the seat they reserved for me was given away. So they told me I could peek out from behind a curtain from a closet. Despicable! My entire delegation can attest to the issues I experienced.
It was quite difficult to stomach Tuesday nights message about disability integration from the breezeway of the arena. Many of the workers who worked tirelessly to find alternative solutions, looked at me with surprise while seeing the irony in this message. If our party, my party, is going to make disability integration one of it's pillars of the platform then we need to live it before we preach it.
There were solutions that could not be incorporated after the convention had begun but should be considered for future conventions. A delegate from Alaska spoke with me about the accommodations made at the Charlotte convention. Delegations that had delegates requiring wheelchair access were placed near the breezeway entrances and the row closest to the entrance had seats removed. They built small wooden platforms for wheelchairs to sit. Then they could be with their state delegations. We all want to be a part of roll call but it can't happen if you aren't within a stones throw of your delegation. Alaska's solution would eliminate that issue.
Thank you. Feel free to add it to your report. I feel that is the only way we can get things changed. All in all I love my party. I have been a lifelong democrat and will always be, but I think we need to hold ourselves accountable as well.