When Minnesotans who use wheelchairs plan to visit the nation’s capital, they will not be able to visit any of the city’s spectacular tourist sites via taxicab. People are only allowed to use taxicabs that provide service within the District, none of which are wheelchair-accessible.
The Disability Institute’s Executive Director, Wendy S. Brower, recently tried to reserve an accessible taxicab so she could go to Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. “I asked the hotel’s concierge to order a cab. He told me that none of the District’s taxicabs are wheelchair-accessible. I was shocked and angry,” Brower said.
Initially, the Memorial did not show FDR’s disability. As part of a nationwide, grassroots effort in 1997, The Disability Institute prompted the Minnesota Legislature to pass a resolution in support of adding a fourth statue depicting FDR’s physical disability. Eventually, another statue was added. It shows FDR seated in a wheelchair.
Recent tragic events make it even more compelling to visit the FDR Memorial. At another time, FDR led the citizens of the United States through depression and war. And he did it all from his wheelchair. According to Brower, “I can’t think of a better way to shatter stereotypes about disabilities than showing FDR in a wheelchair.”
Brower wonders how he would feel knowing that fellow wheelchair-users couldn’t visit his memorial; what would he say to the world?