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Metro’s Invisible Disability Campaign | ChroniCarly

WMATA priority seatWMATA priority seat

[Update: Here’s the Washington Post’s 1/9/2015 article about the new campaign, with quotes from me and Metro officials: Saving seats: Metro’s new ads raise awareness of invisible disabilities]

This morning, I had an unexpected pep in my step for a Monday after a long break from work. WMATA has a new poster campaign around their priority seating. The poster features icons of people with more traditional/apparent need for the priority seating. The poster text is:

“Who needs this seat? You’d be surprised. Not all disabilities are visible. That’s why it’s important to keep priority seating clear at all times. For more information on accessibility throughout the Metro system, visit www.wmata.com/accessibility.”

Below this text is the traditional plain person (or man) icon, in a green circle.

Friends asked if I think this campaign will make a difference. I’m not sure it will have a direct 1 to 1 impact on people using the seats, but I do think the idea is great for awareness and compassion for invisible disabilities in general. Hopefully a few people will learn something.

In a press release for a 2009 campaign, Metro’s ADA Program Director explained that the seats were required by the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act), but “it does not allow Metro to enforce it. ‘Not all disabilities are visible, and it might not always be obvious when a person needs a seat… For those reasons, we are asking customers to do the right thing and make sure that priority seats are available for people who really need them.’”

Check out how the old ads played into the stereotypes the new campaign seeks to confront.

Close up from 2009 Metro ad

Close up from 2009 Metro ad

2 Responses to Metro’s Invisible Disability Campaign

  1. Gillian Burnell says:

    I’m not sure that this will work as no one will be able to tell whether a person sitting on the seat has an invisible illness or not. Anyone can pretend they have so there’s nothing to be gained. Already in the UK a wheelchair user was refused entry onto a bus because a Mother had already parked her pushchair in the space and wouldn’t move. At court the wheelchair user lost his claim that she should have been moved. We have it bad enough already without having to ‘prove’ we need the seat.

  2. Maggie says:

    I was such a fan of this ad too. As someone with some kind of undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, I have experienced a variety of symptoms over the years. Some go away and new ones emerge. Last year around this time I had a lot of fatigue, plus unexplained edema in my legs, which made standing on the metro uncomfortable, and joint pain in my arms and hands, which made it painful to hold onto the pole for balance while standing. As a young woman in my 20s, I do not look like I need a seat. At that time I really did.

    I just came across the NPR story about you and discovered your blog. Thanks so much for speaking out. I never know how to speak out about myself because I do not have a diagnosis and my symptoms fluctuate so much. (I have been screened for Crohn’s a few times but it appears to be something else.) Keep up the good work!