Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week 3

Well.... It looks like it is going to be a warm week coming our way. I'm looking forward to it! It's supposed to be in the 90's and someone even told me it could be warmer.... definitely a part of this experience and this area in general that I am really enjoying.

I am really beginning to find my way around the area a little better too.... If not by choice, then by default. I have been traveling around quite a bit for work; most days I am out of the office more than I am in the office. Along with all of the meetings/briefings, etc., comes finding one's way around and navigating to the sites of different buildings... and of course dealing with the lovely metro system. I actually heard the Washington, DC metro was supposed to be pretty good, but my experience has been quite to the contrary. Just this past week... there were 3 different elevators that were out of service (for like 6 months-until September). I couldn't seem to find an elevator that worked during the middle of the week ;-). I get there needs to be regular maintenance, but this seems a bit excessive to me. It surely isn't a priority for whoever runs the metro system. However, I think it should be a priority.... There are a number of interns and PWD's who live in the area for the summer and beyond who need to travel and rely on the metro. All of the outages and transferring, etc. really complicates things quite a bit. I ended up having to stay on the metro until the next stop.... find my way to ground level, locate the bus stop, transfer to a shuttle (which I had to wait approximately 20 minutes for), then backtrack and have the shuttle take me to the previous site (Medical Center), where I needed to attend a conference. The way back was even more interesting.... talk about testing someone's patience. It really makes a person appreciate the freedom and independence that comes along with having your own vehicle and not having to be so dependant on public transit.

This past week I also had the chance to visit Capitol Hill with my supervisor (Rayburn House Office Building). The entire area is very nice and I will definitely have to check it out further down the road. We proceeded to wait in line for about 15-20 minutes until we got to the front of the security line. When at the front of the line, a security officer proceeded to ask me if I could walk or get out of my chair. I responded "no sir", I do not have the ability to walk or stand. He told us we would have to wait for 20-30 minutes while they went to get someone to put together the lift together (so I could have equal access to the building like everyone else). My supervisor and I were running late, so we proceeded to the next building and found our way to our final destination in a round about manner. I was VERY surprised that such an inmportant building wouldn't have ready access for all visitors...

Both situations had me quite frustrated for some time.... I thought it was sad that this was the case. I thought to myself, how can things be this bad in Washington, DC. One would think that this city would be a model to the rest of the nation.... I guess I've been spoiled the past few years at the University of Illinois (UIUC). UIUC is great in terms of accessibility! While nothing is perfect, it sure comes close! All in all, this past week really reaffirmed my stance in terms of disability rights- "We have a LONG way to go yet".  

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