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Specific findings of the poll included the following:

Nearly two-thirds of all disabled Americans never went to a novio in the past year. In the full adult population, only 22t said that they had aot gone to u novi. in the past. yoar.

Three-fourths of all disabled persons did not see live thoator or'a live music parformance in the past year. Anoag all adults, about 4 out of 10 had not dono 30.

Two-thirds of all disabled persons never went to a sports eveat la the past year, compared to 50% of all adults.

Disabled people are three times more likely than are aondisabled people to aovor sat in rostaurants. Savontaan porcont of disabled peopl. dover sat in postaurants, compared to 5% of nondisablod people. Oaly 34% of disabled people sat at a costaurant once a week or noro, coapared to a 584 majc:ity of nondisabled people.

(Louis Harris and Associates, The ICD Survey of Disabled Aroricans: Bringing Disabled Americans into the Mainstrean, p. 3 (1986) )

Another specific finding of the poll had to do with grocery

shopping and sinilar activities:

Disability also has a negativo lapact on vital daily
activities, like shopping for food. A much higher
proportion of disabled persons than nondisabled persons
never shop in a grocery store. Thirteen percent of disabled
persons never shop in a grocery store, compared to only 28
of nondisabled persons. About 6 out of 10 disabled persons
visit a grocery storo at least once a week, while goi of
nondisabled adults shop for food this oftea.
(Id., p. 3)

Why don't people with disabilities frequent places of public

accomodation and storos as often as other Anoricans?

The Harris

poll shods son. light on the róasons for this isolation and Ronparticipation by persons with disabilities in the ordinary activities of lito. Two of the na jor roasons have to do with aot

fooliag welconand inaccessibility.

Tho prooniaont roason why people with disabilities do not

participato in various aspects of commercial, social, and

rocroation activities that are a routine part of ordinary life

for most othor Americans is that they do not tool that they are
welcon, and can participato satoly. Two of the major reasons
most commonly identified by the Harris poll why the activities of
people with disabilities are limited are foar and self-
consciousness about their disability. The Harris organization
reported that "Poar is the barrior nontionod nost frequently by
disabled people as an important reason why their activities are

linitod, ' with asarly six out of ton (598) of thoso roporting

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activity limitations listing fear as an laportant reason (Id., p. 63). And self-consciousnoss about thoir disability was reported as an important factor by forty porcent (iá., p. 64). To a

disturbing dogros, people with disabilities do not feel safe or

welcome to attend or visit ordinary places open to the public for

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socializiag, doiag business, or engaging in recreation and other na jor activities in our society.

Another way in which people with disabilities are provontod

from visiting social, commercial, and recreational establishments (and in which the lesson of not being wolcone 18 underscored) '18 by the prosence of physical barriors. Many people with mobility impairments, including in particular those who use whoolchairs,

cannot get into or use a facility that has stops, narrow

doorways, inaccorsibl. bathrooms, and other architectural

barriors that keep them out.

People having visual and bearing

impairments are often unable to make effectivo uso or to

participato safely in activities and services if the facility in which they occur has included ao features for communication accessibility. According to the Harris poll, forty percent of Individuals with disabilities reporting ilmitations on their activities say that an important reason why they are limitod 18 inaccessibility of buildings and restrooms (Id., p. 64).

The Harris poll documonts the social isolation of people

with disabilities that rosults, in large part, from

discrimination they encounter whon they try to bagage in the ordinary social and commercial transactions of daily life.


Noarly three decades ago, four black students sat down at a

lunch counter at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North

Carolina, ordered a cup of coffee, and refused to move until they

were served.

Unknown to the four young men at the time, their

act of courage would precipitate a series of sit-ins and other

forns of civil disobedience challenging the racial segregation of lunch countors, restaurants, hotels, aotols, parks, and other facilities. The segregation of such places was a principal

target of civil rights protosts, lawsuits, and proposals for

legislative reforn during the early sixties.

These afforts culminated in a major section of the Civil

Rights Act of 1964

· titl. II, which prohibits discriaination on

the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin ia places

of public accommodation.

Titlo II (42 USC 2000a) dolinos tho

phrase "place of public accommodation' to include a range of establishments that had generated serious problems of segregation. These include inns, hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments; restaurants, cafeterias, lunchrooms , lunch counters, soda fountains, and other facilities selling food for consumption on the premises; gasoline stations; and notion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas, stadiums, and other places of exhibition or entertainment. Since 1964 it has been illegal for any of these establishments to discriminate

on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. Unfortunately, it is not unlawful today for these same establishments to exclude, segregate, mistreat, insult, or

otherwise discriminate against people because of their


People with various disabilities are turned away from restaurants because proprietors say that their presence will disturb or upset other customers. Steps, narrow doorways, curbs, and other physical barriers block people who use wheelchairs from entering many arenas, stadiums, theaters, and other public buildings. People with visual or hearing impairments find that no arrangements have been made for their attendance or effective participation.

At the height of civil rights confrontations in the early sixties, sono parks and 2008 were closed by entrenched authorities rather than permit these facilities to be integrated. Nearly thirty years later, people with disabilities are still having trouble gaining admission to many such establishments.

Last year, the Washington Post reported that a New Jersey

zookeeper refused children with Down syndrome admission to his

200 because he was afraid they would upset his chimpanzoes.

In 1985, I wrote an article for the Washington Post

concerning the lack of accessibility at Ford's Theatre and other Washington performing arts facilities. Since that article was written, sone substantial improvements have been made to improve access at Ford's. A major factor in the change for the positive was that the Ford's Theatre is subject to federal laws and regulations governing federally owned, leased, and federally assisted buildings, and a complaint of discrimination was filed on account of the inaccessibility of the theatre. In resolving the formal discrimination complaint, the National Park Service concluded that accessibility features were necessary and could be achieved without compromising the historic character of the Ford's building, and has worked diligently to have such changes implemented.

Had the Theatre not had a federal nexus, however, it would not be prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities even though it is an important public accommodation. If such a facility were privately owned and operated, the iaprovements that have been made to increase accessibility would not have boon required, and it could persist in discriminating, by practice and through architectural barriers, against people

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