Wheelchair Accomodation Problems

By: Erich Spivey
By: Erich Spivey

October 15, 2005
Hundreds of students and their families gathered at North Augusta High School on Saturday for a battle of the bands. It’s the second annual music festival, but as News 12 reports, one spectator ran into problems again in a story you’ll see only on 12.

This is the 2nd Annual Bands Across the Savannah festival at North Augusta High. And it’s the second year Donna Ciserano says she’s run into problems.

“I don’t think it’s any better than last year. There’s still blocked handicap access in the second section for handicap seating over there. There is no handicap portalet that was told to me by the school board would be done,” Ciserano said.

Ciserano has been confined to a wheelchair for just two years, but has become an advocate for wheelchair access in that short time.

“There was six wheelchairs here last year that couldn’t fit in this small space,” Ciserano said.

She shows us one of the two handicap seating areas, apparently converted into storage for ice coolers and hot dog buns on a table. Even Coke crates obstruct the blue handicap sign.

“If you hold a public event, you have to have reasonable accommodations,” Ciserano said. “There’s a lot of arrogance that people don’t understand. I don’t think you have to look very hard in life now to find someone that’s handicapped in my situation or even worse.”

The organizer of the festival declined to speak on camera. He says the Aiken County Board of Education is responsible for getting handicap portable toilets. But the organizers did manage to round up tents and a grill for outside concessions. And what about the blocked handicap seating area?

“We don’t have any food stored over there. All our food’s in the concession stand,” the unnamed organizer said.

So we walked with the organizer to that area and the table, food and crates are still there.

Ciserano has also run into problems at Silver Bluff football games, and at schools across the state. And she’s hoping those in charge get the message soon and make it easier to hear the music.

Even before Saturday’s events, Donna Ciserano has been considering filing a lawsuit against the Board of Education in Aiken County for what she calls American with Disabilities Act violations. Aiken County Superintendent Linda Eldridge says they try very hard to make their campuses open to people with disabilities. She says she’ll look into Ciserano’s complaints.

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