Carnival Worker 'Humiliated' Blind Girl, Mom Says
Actions may violate Department of Labor requirements
A Long Island carnival might as well have appended their obligatory "must be this tall to ride" sign with "also, you can't be a blind person," when one employee refused to let a seven-year-old girl enjoy a ride because she's unable to see.
Lisa Freitag and her young daughter Kailie were enjoying a day at the St. Brigid's School Festival in Westbury, Long Island until the operator of the spinning swing ride told them that Kailie was prohibited from getting on without an adult due to her "medical condition." Kailie, whose retinas detached shortly after she was born, is blind and walks with a cane--although that hasn't stopped her from enjoying similar rides at Disney World.
"I don't consider blindness to be a medical condition to preclude her from going on the ride," Freitag told the New York Daily News. "They were discriminating against her because she's blind. It's not like she has a bad back or is going to have a heart attack or something."
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A lengthy-confrontation ensued between Freitag and the unnamed employee, during which the Queens mom said she came close to punching the man. Meanwhile, the children already on the ride waited motionlessly until Freitag finally phoned 911. The employee then cleared the ride so Kailie could get on by herself for a single spin, a scene Freitag described as humiliating.
"She was really upset," she said. "She knew that all of the other kids were being taken off the ride. It was the saddest thing to watch."
While the Department of Labor requires ride operators to accommodate people with disabilities, Big Ben's Midway (which supplied the rides at the festival) provided a sign saying that children with medical conditions must be accompanied by an adult. The company has declined to comment, but Kailie, who also spoke to the Daily News, described the offending employee as "not a nice man."