Local disabled girl denied access to Savannah museum

Local disabled girl denied access to Savannah museum

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by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin

WCNC.com

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 13 at 12:26 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte little girl with a rare brain disorder was turned away from a Savannah museum.

Her family was told she wasn't allowed in with her wheelchair.

Facebook posts show the Haas family, all eight of them, are close.

At 11, Lexi is the youngest. She has a rare brain dysfunction that means she is locked in her body and relies on a very expensive, very specialized wheelchair because her arms and legs move uncontrollably.

But she is smart, home schooled at above grade level. 

Mom Susan says, “She’s a very smart little girl but motor things are very hard, that includes speech and movement, walking talking.”

If she sticks her tongue out, it’s a good thing, means yes.

But this past weekend at a museum in Savannah, she was told no.

“Why can’t she just come in” her dad, Dr. Ken Haas, asked the tour guide on duty.

He was told, “Well you can’t take her chair on the carpet.”

“Why not,” he asked.

The family was confused and angry after a tour guide at Savannah's Ships of the Sea Maritime museum told them Lexi would only be allowed in if she used one of the museums regular wheelchairs.

Dad explains, “A regular fold up wheelchair does not work with a kid with movement disorder.”

Older sister Kacey says, “They were unapologetic and if you’re gonna deny access to a physical space for someone because of their only mode of transportation, you should at least be remorseful if not accommodating.”

“Somebody in there needs to be educated. Somebody in there doesn’t understand.”

Monday the museum curator, Wendy Melton, admitted she was “befuddled by this,” and said, “Unfortunately one of our tour guides misunderstood our policy. We really regret this incident happened.”

Her parents say Lexi is angry. They are hopeful this will help educate others. 

Mom says, “We want Lexi to be an ambassador for people with disabilities and to push forward for what her rights are and for what the rights are for other people.”
 

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