It's terrible the amount of crap some parents have to go through when they have a child with disabilities. First we heard about the boy in a wheelchair who was separated from his classroom photo because he couldn't fit in with the rest of the children. At least that seemed like a genuine accident, albeit kind of thoughtless. Though it wasn't even the first time something like that happened! But this latest story is just outrageous to the max. An 11-year-old girl was reportedly not let into a museum -- because her wheelchair would "dirty" the carpets!
Reportedly, the museum staff at The Ships of the Sea Museum in Savannah, Georgia, told the parents of Lexi Haas, who suffers from Kernicterus, a brain condition that has left her with very little motor function, that she couldn't enter with her own wheelchair -- but could use one of theirs.
However, Lexi cannot use just any wheelchair. Hers has body braces and body supports. She could have fallen over in a regular wheelchair. But according to her parents, the staff was insistent that Lexi's wheelchair would dirty their carpets. Lexi's dad pointed out that his shoes were just as dirty as her wheelchair (duh!), but they wouldn't be swayed. The museum offered to show Lexi a video outside instead.
Naturally, they declined.
For those of you who might think that disability laws are unneeded, and that people are generally accommodating, think again. This is a prime example of why they are needed. Lexi's parents aren't looking to sue (miracle!). They say they just want the story out there to show how important it is that disabilities be accommodated. Says Lexi's mom, Susan, about the museum:
They really need to train their staff. They really do. It's a significant error and significant departure in the current thinking on disability access.
The museum has apologized and admitted that staff didn't handle the situation correctly. Ya think?
Carpets can be cleaned. A young girl's memory of being denied access to a public place because she is "dirty" cannot. Carpets are not a good reason to deny access to anyone in a wheelchair. Perhaps if it would be dangerous if she entered, that would be one thing.
Life is hard enough for people with disabilities. There's no doubt that Lexi will face a more difficult life than most of us. There will be times that people aren't so accommodating, and she will have to learn how to accept and handle this.
But that doesn't mean you can't speak up when something is flat out wrong. And her parents did.
Do you think the parents were overreacting?
Image via WBTV 3