Disability rights advocates say they're expecting problems during DNC

by: Holly Maynard Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Disability rights advocates tell Eyewitness News they're expecting big problems when the DNC comes to town.

Their concerns start when visitors arrive at Charlotte Douglas.  Of the 350 cabs there, just four are wheelchair accessible.

Visitors may take a shuttle to their hotel instead, but they could have bad luck there too.  Eyewitness News checked with a couple hotels near the airport.  Best Western said its shuttle is not wheelchair accessible.  Channel 9 got the same response from the Courtyard by Marriott when we asked about their town car service. 

"Our city's going to be under a microscope, and I'm not so sure what that's going to look like," said Julia Sain, the executive director of Disability Rights and Resources, Fighting for Justice, Advancing Independence.

She's also concerned about a number of bus stops that are not accessible to people with disabilities.

James Davis, who uses a wheelchair, said he rarely rides the bus. 

"There's the curb, there's the stop, and grass in between. We can't roll across that," he said.

Becky Ogle works for the DNC Committee.  Her job: to contact delegates and credentialed guests with disabilities to determine what their needs are once they're here and make sure they're met.  She said getting around will not be a problem for them. 

"It better not be.  I'm working hard to ensure it's not," she said.

But there will be thousands of other visitors here who Ogle is not responsible for helping.  Sain said the city hired a consultant this year to look at what needs to be improved, but so far they're only a quarter of the way done with their study.  The consultant was not hired because of the DNC.

City leaders sent a statement to Eyewitness News which said, " The City of Charlotte is working closely with the DNCC and the DNC Host Committee to ensure that events are ADA compliant.   From an operation's standpoint, the temporary transit center will be fully accessible including stops, waiting areas, customer service and public restrooms. Additionally, the City has hired a consultant to improve and enhance accessibility. In working with the consultant, we have been able to make some initial steps to start those improvements, but we are waiting for the full report."

Charlotte Douglas Airport also responded to our inquiries about cab service.  The airport said, "The Airport and taxi cab companies that are contracted to provide pick-up service at the Airport are working to ensure appropriate coverage.  This includes handicap accessible vehicles."