Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a representative with the Washington Nationals. I had written a blog post on my own personal blog rating the different local sports teams on their accommodations, or lack thereof, for the disabled community. At the time I wrote the post, the Nationals had the lowest rating of any team I critiqued. I was very frustrated with the difficulty in getting around the stadium and felt like there were very limited adaptations in the stadium to accommodate the physically disabled. The representative gave me a tour of the stadium and showed me how to access the lower level seats via an elevator that I did not know existed. This will make a huge difference for me when I attend games because it is very difficult to walk down or up the steps to get to my seat. There are large gaps in-between the handrails and it is hard to manage the steps where the handrails break. If this is a problem for me, it is probably a problem for all people who walk but have a physical disability.
In addition to the lack of accessibility of the seats, I was also disappointed in the choice of disabled seating the Nationals offered. Every time I had asked for accessible seating, I was told it was only located at the top of the lower section. This consisted of hard backed or fold-up chairs with gaps in-between them for wheelchairs. This does not work for me because I cannot sit in those types of chairs because of pain. The representative showed me other options for seating that I did not previously know about. These new accessible seats gave me a whole new reason to come to the ballpark and should for anyone that has a disability and is worried about getting around the park or to their seats.
This was my first real experience being proactive for the physically disabled community. Although I had a bit of luck in getting the meeting, I tried to make the most of it and show the representative that changes needed to be made in order to better accommodate those with a physical disability. I think it is important for everyone who buys tickets to any sporting event to feel safe going. There were several times in which I went to a Washington Nationals baseball game in which I frankly did not feel safe. Therefore, I felt something had to be done about this. My experience goes to show how one piece of technology, the elevator, opens so many more doors for people with a disability.