LETTER: Buildings May Not teach People, But if Disabled Students Are Unable to Access Those Buildings, Nothing will Be Teaching Us.

Letter to the editor from Endewyn A. Inzitari, Byram

As a lifelong, third-generation resident of Greenwich, born in Greenwich Hospital, and graduate of Greenwich public schools, I have quite the stake in what happens around town.

I am only 23 years old, but as a disabled person, I have experienced more struggles than most my age. However, thanks in part to laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was created to allow disabled individuals equal access and opportunities, I have been able to lead a full and happy life while being disabled.

On January 30, 2018, the Greenwich Time published an article about my personal journey in getting partnered with a service dog to assist with my disabilities.

The article highlighted my experiences with an organization that stole thousands of dollars from me and provided me with an aggressive, untrained dog, as well as my hopes for the future in partnering with a legitimate service animal.

After that article was posted online, I was personally contacted by Fred Camillo via phone. Camillo appeared to be very kind and well spoken, but quite frankly, clueless about the needs of disabled individuals.

Fred Camillo asked me a myriad of questions about my disabilities, my needs for my service dog, and more. Although the questions felt invasive and out of touch, he assured me that he wanted to help me through my situation. After we finished our conversation, he instructed me to send him a follow-up email reiterating some of what we had just discussed, and assured me that he would get back to me as soon as he could with some ideas. Days, weeks, and then months passed; I never heard back from Camillo.

Before writing this letter, I was contemplating if my personal experiences were worthy of writing about in the first place.

However, after hearing Fred Camillo’s disregard for the dismal state of infrastructure in our public schools, I knew I had to speak up on behalf of the fellow disabled people in my community who do not feel empowered to raise their voices.

At the debate on October 10, 2019, Fred Camillo stated, “The main thing you want is education. Buildings don’t teach people.” This partially correct yet narrow statement is one of the reasons I stand by my claim that Camillo is unaware of the needs of disabled people. The ADA was passed nearly 30 years ago. Before the ADA, schools were allowed to turn away disabled students if they did not have an accessible building. Yet, despite the ADA, this legal discrimination continues to thrive in towns where our elected representatives are ambivalent about our basic right to an education. Buildings may not teach people, but if disabled students are unable to access those buildings, nothing will be teaching us.

In an affluent town like Greenwich, Connecticut, there is no excuse to willfully deny disabled students the right to an equal education. Unlike certain businesses that make national news suing for the right to discriminate, or wealthy individuals who refuse to pay their fair share in taxes, disabled people are not asking for any special privileges. To the contrary, we are simply asking to be included in the services provided to everybody else.

In truth, I did not expect anything when Fred Camillo contacted me after that article was published – but a polite email in return for my education on the issues that service dog handlers face would have been far more respectful than simply ignoring my attempts to contact him.

However, Camillo’s disregard for the voices and needs of disabled people on both a personal and political level shows what he thinks about the most vulnerable of our society. Fred is not my friend, or a friend to any disabled person living in Greenwich.

Endewyn A. Inzitari
Byram Resident

The deadline to submit a letter to the editor regarding candidates in the Nov 5 municipal election was Tuesday Oct 29 at 5pm.