A Savannah, Ga. maritime museum is busy apologizing after a family visiting from Charlotte claimed their 11-year-old daughter couldn’t come in because her wheelchair would “get the carpets dirty.” Instead, an employee reportedly told the family the girl could use one of museum’s wheelchairs, one that didn’t have the right straps to hold her.
According to WBTV.com, the family knew it might be tricky for their daughter to visit the museum because it’s in a historic home, but the girl’s father says the reason they were given for barring entry just didn’t make sense.
He says the woman at the front desk told them the wheelchair the girl was unacceptable because it “would get the carpets dirty,” and offered a wheelchair owned by the museum. That wouldn’t cut it, so the employee then offered to have the girl “sit outside and watch a video on a tiny TV while the rest of us walked through the exhibits,” the family said in a Facebook post.
All of the above goes against museum policy, a curator tells WBTV.com. As such, the museum is now apologizing to the family for their experience, writing in part:
“We share your shock and disbelief, since the way in which the staff member chose to answer the [redacted] family’s very reasonable request was in violation of the both the letter and the spirit of the Museum’s accessibility policy… Until the day after the incident, both in practice and in staff discussions regarding accessibility there has never been any time when the state of the carpet was even discussed as a cause for concern. Hence our own shock and dismay when we heard of the incident the day following the incident (Monday.)”
The letter goes on to say that the employee who went against written policy at the museum has been dismissed, saying that by not accommodating the family she exhibited ” a shocking, unilateral and egregious departure from our policy, both written and understood and a heartbreaking lack of judgment. “
“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 girl’s mother said of the incident, adding that they’ve accepted the museum’s apology.
“In Savannah, we have a reputation of being very accommodating to our guests,” the curator told WBTV. “This was an anomaly.”