Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Monday, July 26, 2010


20th Anniversary ADA Celebration, Washington DC by Gil Lutz

I was honored to receive an invitation to visit Washington DC and the White House on July 26th to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of the signing of the ADA. This turned out not only to allow me to be a witness to history but to go on a GPS adventure.

The celebration was held on the South Lawn of the White House in front of the curved portal with the Truman Balcony that has been an important backdrop for many historical events. Because it was an outdoor event, a rain date was scheduled for the 27th. This added to our adventure by allowing us an extra day to explore. More on this later.

The gates opened at 3:30PM for a 5:15PM event start. The participants lined up outside of the gate where our credentials would be checked and rechecked before we were allowed to enter the White House grounds. Because of the wide diversity of people attending, the interaction between the waiting guests was a buzz of exchanges of names, work experience and disability information. When the gates opened we proceeded through another credential check then on to a security screening much like going through an airport security check. I had used my trusty mPower Voice Note and Sendero GPS to navigate to the gate. From here I would have been on my own but was fortunate to have met a new friend, Yo B. from DARS in Austin Texas. Yo was a welcome and excellent sighted guide as she assisted me to the area of the festivities on the lawn of the White House. She also took the pictures included here. Yes, I did create a user POI at the location of the celebration.
Gil in front of the White House
Gil and Yo in front of the White House
Multiple rows of chairs had been set up in front of the balconies facing a ground level platform and podium. To add to the access to the celebration, I was given a receiver to listen to an excellent audio description of the events as they took place. Hear the archived stream of the ceremony or Download the audio file. The festivities were capped off by President Obama announcing a major update to the ADA Act and, as a complete surprise to everyone there, signed an executive order that rewrites the hiring practices within the Federal Government to raise the number of employees to the level of people with disabilities in the general population. It also affects businesses that do business with the Government. Quite a day.

Because the events took place as planned without the need of the rain date, Evie (my Furry Ferrari) and I had an extra day to adventure in Washington before catching our flight. If any of you have ever traveled in Washington DC you know that none of the streets run in nice neat navigable patterns. They cross each other at odd angles so it’s very easy to end up on a new street that you weren’t intending to be on. Here’s where the GPS was a real friend and savior.

We started the day by going to the National Air and Space Museum where I was able to arrange a guided tour by one of the Welcome Aids. We toured the museum for over two hours and it was an inspiring and interesting experience. After this we navigated back to the hotel for a chance to freshen up and relax a bit.

Since we still had a lot of time left, we decided to adventure on foot, starting from the hotel and tour historic DC with Evie and my trusty GPS. We meandered through the Georgetown area, downtown DC and the neighborhoods surrounding the area. We found a European style sidewalk café / coffee shop and spent some time talking to some very interesting locals who were also enjoying a break out on the nice day. I had been told about an interesting seafood restaurant near the hotel so on the way back we set it as a destination and walked to it like a native. The meal was excellent, which I ate outside and a perfect end to our adventurous day.

Needless to say My GPS made this adventure much easier and meaningful. What else can I say?

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