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Accessing Pride

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My mother is a retired teacher who oversaw the department for students who were blind and low vision.

My little brother lived through leukemia as a young kid, but the journey left him blind, deaf, quadriplegic, and with damage to his brain. I used to spend my summers as a young person volunteering at the Imperial County Office for Exceptional Children so I could spend more time with both of them.

Those experiences and upbringing helped me see how the world treated folks with disabilities and how often it was not built in a way that all of us could access it.

When I joined the Pride Family in 2011 my heart was lifted to see we were in the early stages of making Pride more accessible. We had a program led by Cheli Mohamed called the Diversity Task Force whose job it was to pick apart our organization and find productive solutions to ensure we were the best version of ourselves and that we could serve as many people as possible.

It was volunteer Angela Van Ostren who first saw the potential to make our Pride more accessible.

Over the years, then president of Disability Rights California’s Board of Directors, Jen Restle, and Melissa Kelley Colibrí joined our leadership team of what has now become a full department within Pride.

Our Accessibility Department first began by examining the rally, parade, and festival bringing in ramps, more seating, better signage, and ASL interpreters.

Our website and newsletters are now more accessible by screen readers. We have more accessible shuttle and transportation options to our events. We added designated accessible entry and box office lines to the festival.

We provided free wheelchair rentals and wheelchair charging stations at the Festival. There are even roving Accessibility teams at the events looking for folks who may need assistance.

The Accessibility Department’s work goes beyond Pride weekend and ensures that all of our meetings and events year-round are as accessible as possible.

They train our volunteers and staff every year on disability competency and accessibility best practices. Their work has been recognized around the world and has been used as a model to help train other local and national organizations including helping to make the world’s largest LGBTQ Conference, Creating Change, more accessible.

I couldn’t be more proud of their department’s team, vision, and what they’ve brought to our community and beyond. Our movement only works when everyone in our community is at the table. When we can all access our community, we can all take part in our Legacy of Liberation.

With Pride,

Fernando Zweifach López

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Executive DirectorSan Diego Pride