United States Air Force Academy

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Graduation Week Information for

Handicapped and Hearing Impaired Guests

Welcome to the U.S. Air Force Academy; we hope you enjoy this momentous occasion with your cadet!
The following information is provided to assist you with your medical or handicapped needs while visiting the Academy. Please note that USAFA does not issue handicapped parking passes. Individuals are asked to bring their own state-issued handicapped (H/C) passes in order to access the handicapped parking lot in the Cadet Area (north of Stillman Field) or the handicapped lots at the stadium on Graduation Day. Mobility impaired guests should bring or rent any walkers, wheelchairs, breathing support or other special-needs or medical equipment they require. Please see the list of local companies offering durable medical equipment below. Included in this listing are reputable companies who have provided equipment and supplies to TRICARE beneficiaries.

HIGH ALTITUDE HEALTH CONCERNS:
The Air Force Academy Cadet Area is approximately 7,300 feet above sea level. At this altitude, it is possible to contract an illness known as acute mountain or high altitude sickness. Symptoms may include headache, malaise, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. Most cases are mild but the altitude may exacerbate other existing medical conditions.
High altitude sickness usually resolves within a few days once an individual has adapted to the increased elevation. The best way to avoid illness is to allow yourself to acclimatize: try not to over-exert yourself in the first days after your arrival and make sure to drink sufficient fluids to avoid dehydration. Don’t go sightseeing at higher elevations (i.e., up in the mountains) until after you have been in Colorado Springs for a few days. Alcohol or drug consumption may worsen these symptoms.

Throughout your visit, please be prepared with comfortable walking shoes and water, since bus wait times may be long during peak periods. Note the local weather reports and dress accordingly. Although H/C and bus transportation will be available throughout the cadet area on Tuesday of Graduation Week, there may be extensive walking required from bus stops to your final destination. Please make sure to consider this when bringing elderly or infirm guests to the Academy. Because of the high altitude and possibility of extreme (hot, cold and/or wet) weather, guests with serious medical conditions such as anemia, heart disease or pulmonary disease should consult their doctor about the need for portable oxygen or preventive medication and the advisability of traveling to the Academy. Please make sure to consider this when bringing elderly or infirm guests to the Academy.

GRAD WEEK HANDICAPPED TRANSPORTATION:
On Monday and Tuesday of Graduation Week, specially equipped handicapped shuttle vans will transport disabled guests from the handicapped parking area (north of the parade field) to the Cadet Area for awards ceremonies and Stillman Field for the Graduation Parade. These shuttles will attempt to get you as close to your desired location as possible. For events in the Cadet Area, shuttle buses that pick up guests from the handicapped lot just north of Stillman Parade Field will have special hydraulic lifts for wheelchairs. We recommend that guests bring (or rent) foldable or portable wheelchairs for convenience with the shuttles. Please arrive early to account for loading, unloading, and wait times.

AWARDS DAY PARKING/ SEATING:
For ceremonies in Clune Arena: Handicapped parking is available in the lot in front of Clune Arena and just north of the parade field. Guests should bring their own state handicapped placards so the attendants know to direct you to the correct lot.

For ceremonies in Arnold and Polaris Hall: Guests should park in the Harmon Hall lot.

GRAD PARADE PARKING/ SEATING:
Handicapped parking is available in the lot just north of the parade field. Guests should bring their own state handicapped placards so the attendants know to direct you to the correct lot. Handicapped guests wanting transportation to Stillman Field should wait for pickup in this lot and will be dropped off at the same lot at the conclusion of the Graduation Parade.

COMMISIONING CEREMONIES:
Individual squadrons are responsible for arranging any required transportation for commissioning ceremonies. Parents or cadet guests who anticipate difficulty must contact their cadet to arrange special transportation.

GRAD CEREMONY PARKING/ SEATING:
At Falcon Stadium, H/C parking will be available for those with a H/C pass on both the North and South end of the stadium. Note that you will be directed to the appropriate lot by the attendant based on the gate you enter (North or South) on Graduation Day. Ensure your H/C pass is visible to the attendant in order to ensure smooth traffic flow for all guests.

Golf carts will be available to transport handicapped guests from the parking area to stadium gates. Golf carts will not be able to accommodate standard wheelchairs, however, so please consider this when making your plans. Wheelchair guests may want to ride in the golf cart while having another guest push their wheelchair to the gate. Following the ceremony, golf carts will transport handicapped guests back to the parking area. If you need assistance, you may ask security staff at the gates to call for a golf cart.

Due to social distancing requirements on federal installations, seating in Falcon Stadium will be assigned and strictly enforced. Cadets have been asked to identify family members with wheelchair needs and limited mobility so they may be seated in appropriate sections.

Remember that all seating in Falcon Stadium is outdoors and weather conditions may be uncomfortable for infirm or elderly guests; the ceremony will take place rain or shine, so be prepared for any sort of weather. Note there are only elevators on the north side of the stadium and there is no indoor or covered seating. Once the ceremony begins, guests may not leave the stadium until after the Thunderbirds show is concluded; keep this in mind when making travel plans following the ceremony.

Hearing-impaired guests may ask their cadet to work through their squadron’s graduation representative to request sign language interpreters for the cadet parades or the graduation ceremony, if required. For 2021, families with hearing impaired guests as identified by cadets will receive tickets in a specific section of the stadium to ensure social distancing and close proximity to the sign language interpreters.

ALTERNATE CEREMONY VIEWING LOCATION:
For those guests who cannot attend the ceremony at the stadium due to health concerns or handicap status, a simultaneous broadcast will be displayed in the Arnold Hall Ballroom. For access to this alternate viewing location, guests must enter USAFA via the right-most driving lane of the North Gate entrance. Maneuvering to this location via another route will not be possible on graduation day.

HANDICAPPED EQUIPMENT INFORMATION:
Disabled guests should bring or rent any walkers, wheelchairs, breathing support or other special-needs or medical equipment they require.

Local DME Companies that offer oxygen, wheelchairs, parts for CPAP machines (no government endorsement is suggested):
AeroCare
Customer service: 719-260-0821
Fax: 719-278-2250
HealthStar
Customer service: 719-434-4860
Fax: 866-923-3508
Emergencies: 303-258-6230
Preferred Healthcare
Customer service: 719-548-9220
Fax: 719-548-1038
Summit Respiratory Services
Customer service: 719-593-8476
Fax: 719-522-1752

If you have any concerns about handicapped support during graduation Week, please email mailto:graduation.info@usafa.edu

Falcon Stadium Handicapped Seating
Image of handicapped seating at Falcon Stadium.

Note: there is no indoor or covered seating for any guests attending graduation. Once the ceremony begins, no one may leave the stadium until after the Thunderbirds show has completed (9:30am until approximately 1:00pm) Please take this into account if you plan to attend.

Graduation Simulcast Viewing
Image showing handicapped access to view graduation ceremony on t.v.

A simulcast viewing of the graduation ceremony will be available at Richter Lounge and the Arnold Hall Ballroom, located in Arnold Hall, at 2308 Cadet Drive, U.S. Air Force Academy.