July 28, 2023

Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s Barbie moment cut short

A broken elevator kept the Barbie-loving senator who uses a wheelchair from seeing the show.

Source: Politico


Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot who lost her legs in combat, issued a statement this week on the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s past time we make sure accessibility is the default in America—not an afterthought,” she said in her statement.

But she realized when she went to go see the Barbie movie this week that even the best intentions put forth by the ADA can sometimes fall short.

“Barbie is a big thing in my house,” Duckworth said in an interview with POLITICO. “I have a 5-year-old and 8-year-old. We have three Barbie Dream houses, including one I set up — all 900 pieces. So we were super excited for the movie.”

As she does wherever she goes, Duckworth checked to make sure the theater was wheelchair accessible. It was. She and her daughters and friends purchased the tickets upon arrival only to learn that the theater’s elevator was broken. There was no way for Duckworth to get to the show.

The Illinois senator was frustrated that there had been no signage explaining the problem — and that little support was offered from theater staff about the situation. Duckworth sent her daughters and friends up to the show while she waited outside for them to return.

“I missed out on an experience with my girls,” Duckworth said. “I’m pretty tough about these things. But this one really was a little bit of a stab to my soul.”

Duckworth didn’t want to out the theater by name since it’s in the community where her children live.

The ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination by their employers and ensures equal access to everything from healthcare and transportation to other services, including elevators.

If Duckworth does get to the movie, she’ll see Wheelchair Barbie, who makes a quick appearance in the film.

By:  Shia Kapos