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Specific findings of the poll included the following:

• Nearly two-thirds of all disablod Aaericans aovor went
to novio in the past year. Ia the full adult population,
only 224 said that they had aot gone to u novi. in the past.
i Three-fourths of all disabled persons did not see live
thoator or' a live music portoraanco la the past year. Among
all adults, about 4 out of 10 had not dono 30.

Two-thirds of all disabled persons never went to a
sports event la the past year, compared to 50% of all
• Disabled people are thro. tinos more likely than ar.
nondisablod peoplo to novor eat in rostaurants. Sovoatoon
porcoat of disabled people never sat in postaurants,
compared to 5% of nondisablod people. Oaly 34of disabled
poople oat at a costaurant once a week or aoro, compared to
a 58% najc:ity of nondisabled people.

(Louis Harris and Associates, The ICD Survoy 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 similar activitios:

Disability also has a negativo lapact on vital daily
activities, like shopping for food. A much higher
proportion of disabled persons than nondisabled persons
novor shop in a grocery store. Thirteen percent of disabled
persons novor shop in a grocory store, compared to only 28
of nondisabled persons. About 6 out of 10 disabled persons
visit a grocery store at least once a week, while 90% of
nondisabled adults shop for food this often.
(18., p. 3)

Why don't people with disabilities frequent places of public accommodation and storus as often as other Americans? The Harris,

poll shods son. light on the róasons for this isolation and aonparticipation by persons with disabilities in the ordinary activities of life. Two of the najor reasons have to do with aot fooliag wolcon, and inaccessibility.

The prooniaont reason why people with disabilities do not participate in various aspects of connercial, social, and recreation activities that are a routia. part of ordinary life for most other Americans is that they do not fool that they are welcome and can participato safely. Two of the major reasons most commonly identified by the Harris poll why the activities of people with disabilities are limited are foar and selfconsciousness about their disability. The Harris organization reported that “Poar is tho barrior nontionod nost frequently by disabled people as an important reason why thoir activities aro

linitod, • with nearly six out of ton (598) of thoso roporting

activity limitations listing fear as an laportant reason (Id., p. 63). And self-consciousnoss about their disability was reported as an important factor by forty percent (Ia., p. 64). To a disturbing degree, people with disabilities do not feel safe or welcome to attend or visit ordinary places opon to the public for socializing, doing businoss, or engaging in recreation and other na jor activities in our society.

Another way in which people with disabilities are provoated fron visiting social, commercial, and recreational establishments (and in which the losson of not being wolcone is underscorod) is

by tho prosonco of physical barriors. Many people with nobility

impairmonts, including in particular those who use whoolchairs, cannot got into or use a facility that has stops, narrow doorways, . inaccessible bathroons, and other architectural barriers that keep then out. People having visual and bearing

impairnents are often unable to make effective use or to participato safely in activities and services if the facility in which they occur has included no features for communication accessibility. According to the Harris poll, forty percent of

individuals with disabilities reporting limitations on their

activities say that an important reason why they are limited is inaccessibility of buildings and restrooms (Id., p. 64).

The Harris poll documents the social isolation of people with disabilities that results, in large part, from discrimination they encountor whon they try to engage in the

ordinary social and commercial transactions of daily life.


Nearly thro, 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, hotols, notols, parks, and other facilities. The segregation of such places was a principal target of civil rights protests, lawsuits, and proposals for legislative reforn during the early sixties.

These afforts culainated in a major section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- titl. il, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin ia places

of public accommodation. Titl. II (42 USC 2000a) dellaos the 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, lunchroons, 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 samo establishments to exclude, segregate, mistreat, insult, or otherwise discriminate against people because of their disabilities.

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 entreached 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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