Difficulties for the Impaired

Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard

A few weeks ago, I watched as a hearing impaired family struggled to communicate their food order to a concessionaire not prepared to deal with the challenge of taking an order from a family that could not simply say what they wanted to eat.

The couple and their two children were able to make a drink request when they could lift up the bottle of water sitting on the glass shelf. However, the family struggled to communicate an order that consisted of more than one type of food (hot dogs, half smokes with and without chili, pretzels, and fries) simply because they could not easily point to what they wanted. The family could not communicate their order in a simple, straightforward manner.

After my husband and I struggled with how we could help the couple communicate their order to the staff, we were angered by the lack of consideration for people with disabilities. While the hearing impaired can read the announcer's on field call of the game, they cannot order a meal with ease. Why has the staff at Nats Park not thought about the ways that a hearing or visually impaired person would place an order at a concession stand? Let's ask the staff at Nats Park to offer menus at each stand so that people with disabilities can point to a food item or simply read a menu in Braille, place and order and enjoy their time at Nationals Park.

By Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard  |  June 24, 2008; 6:28 PM ET  | Category:  Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard , Stadium Staff
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Maybe since they can't talk they'd be bright enough to bring a pencil and paper with them.

Posted by: (419+1)*0 | June 24, 2008 8:20 PM

Wow! Seriously? That's just wrong.

This is a HUGE deal! And so easily remedied. I hope someone from the Nats is reading this and DOES something.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 24, 2008 9:35 PM

I hope (419+1)*0 never knows what it means to be hearing impaired or handicapped in any way.

Posted by: shocked | June 24, 2008 10:08 PM

The stadium staff has a general problem in dealing with folks WITHOUT disabilities...

Posted by: Not Shocked | June 24, 2008 10:25 PM

I commend the Nats for providing the captioning on the boards above the bullpens. Hey, some of us hearing folks find the captions helpful too. Nice job, Nats. That said, the easy fix regarding the concessions is, as suggested, post a menu on the counter. Point, click, go -- easy.

Posted by: ChadNatsFan | June 25, 2008 8:59 AM

Fire Clint and use the few bucks you save to buy a couple of reams of paper and some pencils

Posted by: A Solution | June 25, 2008 1:15 PM

I don't see why the hearing impaired family wouldn't carry paper and pen with them at all times. Beyond ordering food...what if they had to communicate in an emergency? This cannot have been the first time they encountered this problem. It seems a bit unfair to expect the Park management to anticipate and prepare for each and every possible contingency. I sympathize with anyone with a disability but it is not a license to abandon common sense.

Posted by: Sgt Koch Ringue | June 25, 2008 1:47 PM

I'm sure this is probably a common occurence for that family, and agree that they probably should have carried a paper and a pen with them. I can't really fault the Nats for not being prepared for this situation.

Posted by: Fred | June 25, 2008 3:00 PM

If the park is supposed to accommodate persons with disabilities, why not consider the experience at the park overall, which includes the concessions? It's called doing the right thing.


Posted by: seriously? | June 25, 2008 3:32 PM

At Verizon Center, the stand managers have picture menus on their clipboards, RFK does too but you need to find the right people. FedEx Field has them as well. I also believe they are required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. However, the person behind the cash register is getting paid so little to think that he/she doesn't. The stand manager should have stepped forward or the person behind the counter should have asked for help. Either way, the Nats drop another one to common sense. Just close the park, move the team to Virginia and let the soccer team play there.

Posted by: VendorNation | June 26, 2008 10:09 AM

Story about Guzman's extension offer is on the Nats official website. Or here:


Posted by: NatsNut | June 26, 2008 10:59 AM

After the Nationals install picture menus at all the concession stands, they need to start working on Clint's contract extension.

Posted by: El Rey | June 26, 2008 1:03 PM

Ooops. I posted Guzzie's story on the wrong blog! LOL. Sorry Kyra.

I need to stay off the internet while I'm at work.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 27, 2008 9:03 AM

Do empathy handicaps count?

"I hope (419+1)*0 never knows what it means to be hearing impaired or handicapped in any way."

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Posted by: Maggie | July 1, 2008 11:05 AM

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