Published on Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Regarding former first lady Roxanne Gilmore’s critique of the plan for a wheelchair ramp at the Executive Mansion: As a woman in a wheelchair who has visited the Mansion, I can tell you firsthand how degrading it is to be shuffled to the back entrance to use the elevator and go through the mudroom and kitchen. I’m appalled that anyone would say accessibility is defacing the Mansion and is unnecessary.
It sounds like our former first lady and the docent quoted in a recent article need to spend a day or two in my shoes — or better yet, my chair — and understand what a daily struggle it is to simply go anywhere. All citizens of this commonwealth deserve the opportunity to visit the Executive Mansion and enter through the front door. Denying that opportunity because one cannot or will not look past one’s own selfish ideals would be terribly offensive to me and others in the disability community. I applaud Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s work to make the Mansion more inviting and preserve the historic aesthetic.
Sandra A. Cook