Nevada Lawmakers Focus on Handicapped Access Issues

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A legislative panel studying disability issues plans to focus on access problems in state-funded public buildings after fielding complaints about two sports facilities at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Las Vegas resident Vicki Quinn, accompanied by friend Monica Guinn, daughter-in-law of Gov. Kenny Guinn, told the Legislative Committee on Persons With Disabilities they still have concerns about wheelchair access to UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center and Sam Boyd Stadium despite university improvements to both facilities.

Quinn, the mother of 15-year-old wheelchair user Stephen Quinn, and Monica Guinn have been fighting for four years for improvements in handicapped seating and parking at Thomas & Mack, some of which have been made. Vicki Quinn said Monday that some of the arena improvements have been "wonderful."

But at the Oct. 24 National Basketball Association exhibition game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, folding chairs were placed in front of Stephen on the floor near one of the baskets five minutes before game time.

"State-operated facilities should be mandated to meet the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)," Quinn said. "We have state-operated buildings that do not adhere to the ADA."

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, chairwoman of the legislative committee, and fellow lawmakers vowed to consider complaints about access to state buildings in a formal hearing at a later date.

"This seems to be a major issue and it's not just the Thomas & Mack," Titus said. "It's all public buildings."

The Quinns and Monica Guinn also said there need to be improvements at Sam Boyd Stadium, where the Rebels play football. Wheelchair spaces are available halfway up the stadium at the portal level but they said they would also like wheelchair access closer to the field.

"The seating should be fairly dispersed," attorney James Wadhams, who represents the Quinns, said. "There is not lower-level seating for wheelchairs."