Recently my mom, Ric, Amanda and I traveled to Worcester to review the accessibility of the DCU Center which is the site for the 2010 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention. I was honored when I was asked to review this site with Stacey Monahan, Executive Director, Massachusetts Democratic Party and Ben Schwartz, Co-Chair of the DSC Disabilities Outreach Committee. Last year we reviewed the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention at MassMutual Center and gave it 5 Stars for accessibility. Stacey wants to ensure the DCU Center is fully accessible to all persons attending the 2010 Democratic State Convention.

Upon arriving in downtown Worcester, my mom, friends and I were very impressed how beautiful the city has become. We hadn’t been to Worcester in many years and were amazed at the change.

We had no problem finding handicap parking in the large parking garage located directly across the street from the DCU Center. This parking garage has many handicap parking spaces for smaller conversion vans but doesn’t have many spaces for taller conversion vans. The pedestrian crosswalks from the parking garage to the DCU Center are clearly marked, wide, wheelchair accessible and safe. We were told that local Police Officers are on duty during all major events at the DCU Center to ensure the safety of all pedestrians crossing the street at the crosswalks.

Stacey plans to have an additional accessible handicap parking lot designated for the delegates with disabilities at the 2010 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention. This parking lot will be conveniently located next to the DCU Center and will be able to park taller conversion vans.

There are two entrances to the DCU Center. The Arena Box Office entrance is located on Foster Street and the Convention Center entrance is located on Major Taylor Blvd. We checked out both entrances and found both wheelchair accessible.

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We entered the DCU Center though the Convention Center. This entrance has revolving doors with a single entry door to the side. This is the entrance where all the Registration will be held the day of the Democratic State Convention. None of the entry doors at the DCU Center are automatic. Yet we were told that during all major events and for the 2010 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention security personnel are located at all entrance doors and will gladly open the doors for those in need of assistance. This is what they did at last year’s convention which worked well. The lobby inside this entrance is spacious with plenty of room to maneuver your chair.

We met up with Stacey and Ben and they thanked me for coming. Stacey told me she wants to do everything possible to make the convention fully accessible to persons with various disabilities. We were then introduced to very kind Executives from the DCU Center and a very nice man from the Worcester Visitors Center; they offered to take all of us on a full tour of the DCU Center which we found fully accessible to all persons with various disabilities.

While looking around the spacious lobby, we saw accessible ticket counters; an accessible ATM; plenty of designated elevators that are spacious with enough room to fit me in my chair comfortably with my friends; accessible water bubblers, and an accessible food court with accessible seating.

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We also saw plenty of wheelchair accessible seating which has a space for one wheelchair-seated person and one companion. The DCU Center also offers seating for the visually and hearing impaired. Listening devices are provided to the hearing impaired patrons who request it in advance.

All the restrooms we entered are spacious, wheelchair accessible and fully ADA compliant. I also found the faucets, soap and towel dispensers easy to reach. All the Men’s and Women’s restroom signs are marked with Braille for the blind.

We then took the elevator to the second level which is the arena level. On our way to this area we saw elephants and horses from the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus that were performing at DCU Center when we were here. We were told earlier there was a breakfast for the elephants that the public was invited to see. Wow…I wish we arrived a little earlier for this event:>)

The entrance to the Arena of the DCU Center is located on Foster Street. Once inside this entrance you will find a spacious lobby with ticket windows of an accessible height. If you attend an event here you are able to access all seats in the arena from here.

We then arrived at the second level arena seating area. Stacy showed us this section overlooks the main floor where the Democratic State Convention will be held.

The arena is large and can seat many patrons; there are many landings that can be used for persons seated in wheelchairs. All delegates who let them know in advance that they need wheelchair seating will be seated on the main convention floor with other delegates from their districts. Persons who don’t let them know ahead of time will have seating on one of these second floor landings that will have a great view of the convention floor. These landings have lots of spaces for wheelchairs. We also noticed that all the steps in the arena are painted with bright yellow paint and they are wide and not steep. Therefore persons using canes or who have difficulty walking will have an easier time accessing their seats on this level.

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Stacy also explained there will be closed caption on the Score Boards Screens that will be lowered from the ceiling in the center of the convention floor. This will be great for the hearing impaired.

Stacy also informed us that people can request a personal assistant if they need help finding their seating area. There will be meeting rooms located on the 3rd floor which will have wheelchair accessible tables and easy to access from the elevator.

Kenny & Company give the DCU Center FIVE STARS for wheelchair accessibility. If you are planning on attending an event here we believe you will have a very positive experience as for the accessibility.

Kenny & Company give Stacey Monahan and Ben Schwartz FIVE STARS for taking the time to ensure the site for the 2010 Democratic State Convention is fully accessible to all individuals with various disabilities. Without this careful planning the experience could be very frustrating and disappointing. Thank You Stacey and Ben!!!