Yesterday it was the case of the deaf toddler who was forced to change the way he signs his name because the public school he attends thought it too closely resembled someone shooting a gun. Today it's a museum in New England that told a blind 8-year-old girl that she couldn't bring her cane inside.
In this latest outrageous example of the mistreatment of children with special needs, the little girl is named Abby. According to her mom Penny's blog, Its A Happy Story, she's blind due to Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). She had 20/20 vision when she was 6, but in the past two years has become legally blind and needs a cane to help her navigate the world. Only the world isn't always so kind as she found out earlier this week when her father took her and her brother to the museum.
In a post titled, "Cane Denied: When a good policy fails," her mom describes how upon entering a local museum (they live in New Hampshire), the person at the front desk told her husband, Chris, they couldn't bring the cane into the museum. Even when he explained that Abby was blind, the woman wouldn't budge and said, "We have had issues with kids in the past."
Stunning, right? In the worst possible way. Shocked and not wanting to disappoint his kids, Chris paid for admission and handed the cane over, but the day was marred.
The museum has since apologized, but as Penny states, "The issue is that it happened and that can never be changed." In retrospect she says she feels like she failed her family for not educating them enough about Abby's rights, and that she would have pushed the issue.
Its a balance to when is the right time to complain and push an issue or keep quiet and stew. This was a time to act. I bet some of you are thinking Chris could have pushed the issue more and that he should have known. If you know Chris you will understand he didn't know. He knew it was rude. He felt it wasn't right. He trusted that the museum can tell his daughter she can't bring her cane in. Its a public place they should know the law. He is right. They should.
Yes they should, and it was neither her nor him who failed -- it was the museum, and it is society all too often. Though it feels like we have come so far in some respects, children with disabilities unfortunately do not always get treated with the respect, dignity, and consideration they should. Hopefully by sharing her story and others like this, people will see that this isn't okay, and that ignorance isn't an excuse for discrimination.
Are you shocked that a museum would do this?
Image via Its a Happy Story