Katrina/Rita: Opportunity for Universal Design

Veronica over at Size Matters, Too has done a couple of shows (see below) on the need for accommodating larger people who have survived Katrina. You can listen for free this week and pay a small fee for archived versions.

I was especially impressed that the question of rebuilding New Orleans came up in the course of the discussion with Carole Cullum. Among the many lessons learned by this storm and especially the inadequacy of the response to it has to be: People are not all the same and as such they have different needs when they are victims of a crisis.

As Cullum said so eloquently in the interview, "the color of your skin, the size of your bank account or the size of your dress" should not determine whether you get help or not. I would add the ableness of your body.

Clearly the worst of America's problems were laid bare by Katrina. Instead of name-calling and scapegoating, it is my hope that America can start addressing the underlying causes of these problems. At the forefront of these underlying causes is the question of accommodations and universal design.

This theme is being echoed by Scott over at RollingRains. Scott has a number of links for people who are interested in working towards universal accessibility in the rebuild of New Orleans. This is a complex issue and will need a number of disciplines will be needed to make it happen. But it needs to be done!

In other places, I have lamented that New Orleans will never be the same. However, I want to make it clear. If New Orleans must change, I would like to see it become the most accessible city in the United States.

One final thought (and this is echoed in Scott's work as well): The people from the gulf coast from Texas to Florida had to go to other places to stay. Some of them will resettle there. The problems of accommodation will follow them wherever they go because physical and social barriers still exist. It has been fifteen years since the passage of the ADA. It is time for universal design. The travel industry is an important provider when such crises happen.

Universal design in the travel industry will not only make it possible for people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities and backgrounds to have a restful holiday or vacation, it will be there for as a resource in times of need.

So lesson learned. Now it requires us to act on those lessons.


Check out Size Matters, Too

Bonus Show!! Show 72: Help In All Sizes II

Guest: Carole Cullum

An interview with Carole Cullum, Co-Chair National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Attorney Cullum makes it plain when she discusses the need for acceptance with regard to people of size in this country. Hurricane Katrina blew the lid off of the reality of body size diversity and the unique needs and accomodations that are required and should be standard in providing aid to the victims and survivors.

Show 71: Hurricane Katrina: Help in All Sizes "A Special Edition of Size Matters"

Veronica co-hosts with Deb Lemire of Queen Bee Productions and interviews Valerie Carr of The City of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on the adoption of an entire Mississippi City, D'Iberville.

Hurricane Katrina devastated our country through lost lives, lost homes, lost relatives, family and friends. Many of thousands who's lives were spared now face an uncertain future as their needs are being met through the kindness of strangers. On today's show, we'll discuss the diversity of help that's needed in all sizes!


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