Chautauqua can be intimidating for someone like me, a disabled photojournalist coming here for the first time to intern at the Daily. I knew I was going to have to walk great distances every day for nine weeks, camera equipment and all, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it alone.
I set out to find people who needed access to parts of Chautauqua that would not be accessible without the different aids the Institution offers. I met people who used motorized scooters, hearing devices, captions, and Braille.
I met Larry Rizzolo, who I found dancing with his wife, Carol, during the Louis Prima Jr. concert. He was having trouble with his hip and his scooter helped him get around.
I met Rita Auerbach and MaryLou Goodman, who like to walk together around Chautauqua. Rita told me she doesn’t like to be isolated and it’s good to be with people.
I met Roger Chard, a person who is blind with access to Braille when he visits, enjoying Chautauqua with his wife, Maurita Holland. Roger utilized binders of Braille for worship services and the 52-page transcription of the opera Sweeney Todd this season.
I met Jill Nelson, who uses captions via captions.chq.org during lectures to read and write notes.
All of the people I met could not access Chautauqua the way they did without help from the Institution through the Braille, hearing aids, captions and mobile aids. People like Rita and myself would not be able to “walk” with our friends or colleagues.
I took on this project because accessibility matters to me, I want to be included, and I want to be in a world where I can do my job with a little bit of help. I found that at Chautauqua.