It has been HOT in DC this week – as with most of the country – so my tourist exploits have been dampened while I avoid the heat. The 100+ temperatures really make me appreciated the cold, cold lobby at the office building for my internship. This week at my internship I have been reading progress reports and indicator reports comparing the outcomes of persons with disabilities to persons without disabilities. These have been fascinating because they show that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the lives of people with disabilities (not that this was news to me). The employment statistics for people with disabilities are especially disheartening (especially since I will be looking for a job in a couple years) but several executive orders and government initiatives have been created over the last few years so hopefully these employment trends will start to improve. If you want to learn more about these issues you should check out the new and improved National Council on Disability website (www.ncd.gov).
I have had a couple interesting encounters with the Uniformed Secret Service this week while walking (or more accurately rolling) by the White House to and from work. Security has been heightened because Chancellor Merkel was visiting – which is understandable. However, while the Secret Service has opened sidewalks for walking pedestrians, they often still leave the curb cuts obstructed so that wheelchair users cannot access the sidewalks. Some of the Secret Service members have been more helpful than others, but either way, I usually have to walk several blocks out of my way or wait until the Secret Service is willing to assist me since I am unable to use the curb cuts. I have e-mailed the Secret Service asking them to reconsider the practice of blocking access to sidewalks to persons in wheelchairs when the sidewalks are open for other pedestrians. I guess I will see if I ever get a response.