Because it is, believe it or not, time to start thinking about hotel rooms and plane tickets for college graduation, I’ve been looking into how various universities handle commencement seating for guests with disabilities. (Interestingly, while most university websites I looked at least mention the possibility that guests might use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, hardly any introduce the possibility that a graduate might need an accommodation. I’m going to chalk that down to age = disability bias.)
So let’s start with my daughter’s school (and my own dear alma mater):
Floor seating is available for those who require the use of a wheelchair. Disability seating tickets are required for this section. One additional person may accompany a guest in a wheelchair and sit with him/her in this section. All others in the party should use the main entrances to the Hall and sit in general seating.
Ah, feeling so sad and marginalized. I will sit with my husband; our other children will be out there in the mob on their own.
Let’s continue with a few other examples:
Wheelchair accessible seating is available on the north side of the Icardo Center. This seating area is limited and cannot be reserved. Because seating is limited, one attendant per person in a wheelchair will be allowed to sit in this area during the ceremony.
Ooh, unfortunate use of the word “attendant”. And first-come, first-served. Fist fight, anyone?
Wheelchair seating tickets will be assigned and will be available for pick-up at ticket distribution. Please note, one companion ticket will be provided next to the wheelchair seating ticket. The rest of the party will be seated nearby.
Accessible seating is provided for guests with limited mobility. Accessible seating is located in rows near the section entrance that require minimal stair climbing.
Due to the limited number of seats available, groups requesting “Accessible Seating” are limited to four tickets in this area. For graduates receiving up to eight tickets, the additional tickets will be provided in the same section as the “Accessible Seating” tickets.
Here we have tiered discrimination: able-bodied? Eight of you can sit together. Limited mobility, but can climb stairs? Four of you can sit together. Wheelchair user? Sorry, you’re down to two.
Will my family members be able to sit together, or does the person with the disability sit alone?
The person with the disability does not have to sit alone. Your entire party (maximum of four) may sit together in the Disabilities Section. All graduates receive four tickets, regardless of section.
We have a winner! What a wonderful idea – your entire party may sit together. Let’s hear it for MIT!