Presidential Inauguration guide for the disabled or elderly

January 17, 2013

If you’re disabled, elderly or frail, attending the inauguration is not necessarily out of the question. Designated pedestrian routes, wheelchair-accessible portable toilets, and services for the deaf and blind are some of the resources that will be offered Monday.

Jumbotron screens showing the swearing in ceremony will have real-time captioning, said Stephanie Young, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee, and American Sign Language interpreters will be stationed at four locations on the Mall, Young said.

Audio devices that narrate the ceremony will be available for individuals who are blind or visually impaired and can be obtained at the public entry point at Constitution Avenue and 12th Street NW.

The entire parade route will have designated wheelchair-accessible sidewalk paths to provide an unobstructed line of sight in ticketed and non-ticketed areas, Young said. Wheelchair-accessible bleachers are available in ticketed areas near the White House.

Watch the weather

Consider the weather and accessibility challenges before you head out, said Phil Posner, vice chairman of Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.

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If you do decide to give it a go, keep in mind the following:

Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said that there is no specific inauguration protocol for people who require accessibility services but that everyday services (MetroAccess, elevators, wheelchair-accessible fare gates) will be available. About 200 extra Metro personnel will be deployed among the Metro stops to assist riders experiencing difficulty.

Although MetroAccess will be operating, regular daily and weekly appointments are canceled for the day, Lukas said. Metro asks that MetroAccess riders looking to make reservations do so as early as possible. Riders should take into account longer travel times because of road closures, and shuttles may not be able to provide door-to-door service to destinations within the inaugural-security zone.

If you’re planning to take Metro, the closest stop to the Mall is L’Enfant Plaza, a fifth of a mile away.

Because it’s near the Mall, the stop will be packed with riders, so expect some inconvenience related to the crowds.

The District’s Circulator bus service will not be running, but the buses will be used to shuttle the elderly and people with disabilities from the RFK Stadium parking areas to a location near the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station, said John Lisle, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation. From there, people can travel up Seventh Street to the Mall.

Young said 20 percent of the portable toilets are wheelchair-accessible and will be stationed in the Mall area and along the parade route. Lines for on-site toilets are likely to be extremely long, so expect to wait.

The Capital Weather gang is warning of a possible “arctic blast” Monday. Temperatures most likely won’t rise above 40 degrees and might drop below freezing. Dress appropriately and prepare for the worst. Cold weather also increases the risk of dehydration, so drink plenty of fluids.

Bring something to eat

Food won’t be readily accessible near the inaugural events. Those with diabetes or low blood sugar should stock up on snacks to control their blood sugar throughout the day.

People who do decide to stay home Monday don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The Disability Community Inaugural Ball will be held Saturday at the National Press Club.

Visit mypowerandpride.org for more information.

The official inaugural balls will be wheelchair-accessible and have designated seating areas for people with disabilities to clearly see the stage, Young said.

For more information about accessibility services, call 202-224-4048 or 202-228-1612 TTY.

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