Disabled model Chelsey Jay says she was humiliated and outraged when she arrived at a fashion show – where she was to speak about the lack of disabled models in the fashion industry – only to discover the podium had no wheelchair ramp.
Jay, who uses a wheelchair because she has a rare disorder that causes her to faint when she stands up, was not able to give her speech at the popular Clothes Show Live in Britain.
The 24-year-old woman from Essex said in Twitter postings that she had been talking with the program’s staff for a year about the show’s lack of disabled models and had been invited to speak at a seminar on Tuesday.
“They started seminar without me (10 mins early) and the stage was unaccessible, (sic) I’m so humiliated,” she posted.
Jay campaigns with Models of Diversity, a fashion industry group advocating the use of handicapped models.
On Thursday, the Clothes Show issued a public apology, saying its staff “invited Chelsey Jay to this year’s event as a guest, and due to genuine human error the access that she required to take part in our seminar was not made available on time.”
Jay said she “felt sick” when she saw that the podium was unreachable for her. “I couldn’t believe it,” she wrote on Twitter. “I couldn’t believe it. I am so humiliated and feel like a fool,” she posted.
“The fact that I was there to talk about disability inclusion in fashion, at a fashion event that excluded me, is laughable, but it’s not a joke, it’s real life and a reality to so many disabled people every single day,” she said.
Jay suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a disorder that causes heart rates to drastically increase when a person stands upright, causing dizziness, fainting, nausea and other symptoms.