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Equating disability with inability is false. In employment, for example, numerous studies have shown that employment for the disabled is restricted more by misconceptions, stereotypes, and generalizations about handicaps, unfounded tears about increased costs and decreased productivity, and outright prejudico, than by people's disabilities themselves. overwhelmingly, the documentation shows that disabled workers equal or outperform non-disabled workers, without increasing Insurance benefits or worker's compensation costs. We have allowed our discomfort
with the handicapped, and our feelings of hostillty toward them to create this gigantic and wastefui injustice.
Society has neglected to challenge itself and its misconceptions about people with disabilities. When people don't see the disabled among our coworkers, or on the bus, or at the sports field, or in a movie theater, most Americans think it's because they can't. It's time to break this myth. The real reason people don't see the disabled among their co-workers, or on the bus, or at the sports field, or in a movie theater 1s because of barriers and discrimination. Nothing more.
It is barriers and discrimination that have caused an "out of sight, out of mind• situation ith disabled people. When housing is inaccessible and unavallable, the disabled have to stay at home, under the care of thels Camilles, or live in nursing homes and other institutions, rather than establishing and controlling their own households next door to you and me When regulas transportation is inaccessible, and transit services for the disabled
are segregated, you won't see them on your bus or commuter train. When prejudice dictates that the handicapped can be productively caployed only in separate sheltered workshops, you won't see too many in your workplace.
The exclusion and segregation of people with disabilities has had an insidious partner: the gloss of good intentions. An atmosphere of charity and concern has cloaked our 111-treatment of disabled people and permeated our excuses for denying them access to the full benefits of the complex fabric of modern American society. The institutions and the token van rides and the overprotective denials of employment have all been provided with the noblest Intent.
wile the charity model once represented a step forward in the treatment of persons with handicaps. In today's society 1t 18 irrelevant, Inappropriate and a great disservice. Our model must change. Disabled people are sometimes Lapatient, and sometimes angry, but for good reason: they are led up with discrimination and exclusion, tired of denial, and are eager to seize the challenges and opportunities as quickly as the rest of us.
It is time to stop the excuses and the veneer of good intentions. must stop the cycle of separateness which hides the people with disabilities, and creates prejudice, which creates more separateness.
In the past, concerns about cost have been raised as an obstacle to our addressing this problea. Estimates of these costs are inclated. For example, when the implications of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were debated, universities and hospitals claimed that non-discriaination was absolutely beyond their financial means. We have now had regulations Laplementing Section 504
over 10 years. During that time, these institutions have not complained of financial difficulties due to accommodating the disabled.
I believe we will find that in the long run, ending discrimination will actually lower costs to our society as a whole. Maintaining discrimination is
expensive because discriminatory barriers keep people out of work, lowers our gross national product and our tax revenue and, what's more, swell benefits payments. Government studies have estimated that eliminating employment discrimination in even a narrow spectnm of jobs would add $58 million to annual government revenues. A Department of Transportation study indicated that, with accessible transportation, SSI benefit savings due to increased employment would account for $276 million a year. Statistics indicated that funds generated by ellminating handicap discrimination would return more than three dollars for every dollar spent. We as a nation stand to cash in quite a bit on the Integration, and subsequent enhanced productivity, of people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act addresses these basic areas: employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services and communication barriers.
In employment, this Act will make it illegal to deny job opportunities to qualified applicants on the basis of handicap. The Act will cover the same range of employment activities as those covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In transportation, the Act will eliminate barriers by requiring new transportation equipment to be accessible to the disabled. This follows a national trend, in which the current federal mandate to provide useable public transportation for the disabled is being done through lift-fitted and otherwise-accessible equipment. The next step, barriers in existing equipment, will be dealt with by allowing phase-in periods. This way, transit systems will slowly become more and more accessible to the disabled without creating a burdensome cost to the transit districts. The bill provides that para-transit (separate, subsidized door-to-door van systems) can and should still be used, but not as a substitute for regular fixed-route service.
In mandating this particular configuration of transportation services, Congress will be affirming the consensus which is being reached in both the disability community and the transit comunity after a decade of much experimentation in how best to eliminate transportation barriers. An increasing number of cities large and small, including New York, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco Tacoma, Johnstown, and Champagne-Urbana, have successfully integrated large numbers of disabled people into their entire transit systems. These cities serve as models to the rest of the country, illustrating how to maximize disabled ridership, minimize costs, and work harmoniously with the disability community.
The Act will prohibit discrimination in public accommodations covered by Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Also, it will prohibit discriminatory activities of state and local governments resulting from ordinances, laws, regulations, or rules. It includes the continued phase-in of closed captioning in television broadcasts, viewable by deaf and hearing-impaired watchers upon purchase of decoder. Such measures will begin to bring down the many barriers that are so debilitating to the disabled on a day-to-day basis.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1988 provides the vehicle through which we can address the critical problem of discrimination on the basis of handicap in our country. We must provide disabled citizens the same equality of opportunity which our nation values so highly. We must all work together toward the day when disabled people face no discrimination. I urge all my colleagues to join us in this fight.
Senator HARKIN. Congressman Coelho just again showed what we know around here to be true, that that testimony that comes from the heart is always the best testimony.
I would like to recognize our distinguished chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee, the Senator from M sachusetts, Senator Kennedy.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR KENNEDY Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, just for a moment, because we all want to hear the witnesses, I too want to commend you, Senator Weicker, Major Owens, Congressman Coelho, Congressman Jeffords, for holding these hearings.
I think, as you listen to those who have spoken today, you realize that there probably has not been a family in the country that has not been touched by some form of physical or mental challenge. You have heard some statements today, very moving statements of members of the family. That has been true in the Kennedy family, as well, a sister who is retarded, my own son who has lost a limb to cancer. I bet if you go across this country, there really is not a member of a family or an extended family that has not been touched.
This legislation will become law. I think those that have physical or mental challenge has to take heart by the actions that have been taken very recently in the Congress, with the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Restoration Act. There is a movement and it is alive and it is growing. And it should grow.
This legislation will become law. It will become law not because of the people up here, although all of us want it to become law, but because of you all across this Nation, in the small towns and communities, in the plants and factories all across this Nation, that are really challenging our country to ensure that we are basically going to have an even playing field and we are going to eliminate the barriers that keep people out, so that people can become a real part of the American dream.
I just want to give the assurance to both Senator Harkin, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Handicapped, and Senator Weicker, who has done such a great job in this area as well, that this will be the first order of business when the next Congress meets, assuming that we are all here.
Senator HARKIN. That is great news, the first order of business
[The prepared statement of Senator Kennedy follows:)
STATEMENT OF SENATOR BDWARD M. KENNEDY
For Immediate Release:
(202) 224-4781 Today marks the first day of hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped on the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the outset, I want to commend Senator Harkin and Senator Weicker for their leadership on this issue, and for their tireless support in working toward a more just society for the disabled and for all Americans.
The 100th Congress has already adopted two landmark bills to protect the rights of the disabled. The Civil Rights Restoration Act, enacted over the veto of the President, provides substantial protections for the handicapped against discrimination. And the Fair Housing Act of 1988 includes for the first time a series of provisions to bring the disabled within its far-reaching protections.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is the essential next step in our ongoing effort to guarantee that the 36 million physically and mentally challenged citizens of our nation enjoy the same fundamental rights as all other Americans. We recognize that enactment of a law does not necessarily end discrimination or prejudice in our society, but it 18 often the indispensable means of advancing toward that goal.
with the help of medical science and the commitment of growing numbers of concerned citizens in public and private life throughout the country, we are poised on the threshold of a new era of opportunity in our society for millions of fellow citizens who have been unfairly left out. We are beginning to learn that disabled people are not unable. The old barriers of fear and prejudice and ignorance are crumbling, and the Americans with Disabilities Act will speed the day when those ancient attitudes are finally and fully overcome, and disabled Americans enjoy the right to realize their full potential.
In 1973, Congress took the first step in ensuring that the civil rights of millions of Americans with disabilities are protected. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act has served as a symbol of equal citizenship for disabled Americans, an incentive for self-advocacy and community education -- and when necessary, a basis for court action. The legislation we are discussing today builds on what we started in 1973 -- it will provide disabled Americans with the same rights already accorded to women and minorities -- the right to be free from discrimination in all its insidious forms.
Finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act will also halt discrimination against individuals suffering from AIDS or who are infected with the AIDS virus. I am delighted that Admiral Watkins 1s with us today. The report of his Presidential Commission makes clear that discrimination against victims of AIDS 18 seriously impairing our ability to halt the spread of the AIDS epidemic, and action by Congress is overdue.
I look forward to this hearing, and I comunend all those who have worked so hard to develop this legislation. The Americans with Disabilities Act deserves our high priority in Congress, and I intend to do all I can as chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee to expedite its enactment.