I’m honored to again be chosen as a delegate the Minnesota State DFL Convention. It’s a pretty different experience at the DFL virtual convention this year than in Rochester two years ago. It was exciting to be around all of the people, meet the candidates and other delegates, be part of the action and drama as it unfolded. It was awesome to be interviewed and featured in a local ABC news report about why I was there and advocating for issues important to people with disabilities. (Read Adjournment blog post]
In general, the accessibility at the convention in Rochester was fine. I’m even more excited about a virtual convention and here are some of the reasons why. There are barriers that may make it difficult for people with disabilities or if they don’t have money to attend events like this:
- The expense – My mom paid for the hotel and was there as my caregiver. My aunt and uncle also paid for their own travel and hotel expenses to be able to help my mom with caregiving – it takes two people to transfer me from my wheelchair to toilet/shower chair or get me in and out of bed. My dad had just had back surgery so wasn’t able to come along. It was too difficult to figure out how to have an extra paid care attendant be with me for the three days and two nights of the convention.
- The logistics – I needed to be able to go back and forth to my hotel room from the convention center to be able to get a break from my wheelchair and go to the bathroom. Accessible bathrooms work for a lot of people with disabilities, but I use a specialized toilet chair.
- It’s loud – Auditory neuropathy, hearing loss and loud conventions don’t work well for me. I can’t hear side conversations. I can’t hear someone coming up and talking to me or asking me a question. I can’t hear their voice over the loud volume in the room.
So, for some of those reasons, I’m excited for the virtual convention because I think they have the possibility of being more inclusive for people who can’t afford to go or have accessibility needs that make a convention difficult to attend in person. Maybe not as thrilling as being there in person, but I think having an option for attending virtually would be something that should always be done so that there is greater participation in the process.