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some sign-interpreted performances;
a tape cassette sent with tickets containing a
description of stage sets; and
a special hotline with information on available shows for
persons with visual impairment.
Despite these advances, there is still a long unfinished
agenda with respect to equal access to tourism and recreation
facilities for handicapped persons.
Advances have been made in
equality of access to travel opportunities for those who are
handicapped or ill.
But these advances have not always kept pace
with gains in other forms of equality.
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance
Board has received 944 written complaints about barriers since it
was established, and 822 have yet to be resolved.
One-hundred-and-twenty-eight of those complaints were received
this year alone.
The most common complaints were about lack of
curb cuts, ramps and automatic doors.
Facilities in New York
State, Washington, D.C., and California were the object of the
of all complaints this year.
Few restaurant menus are printed in braille.
and waitresses have been trained to tell blind patrons the
location on the table of food items, for example, in terms of "12
Rental cars with hand controls are not available at all of
our major cities.
The only commercial aircraft with wheelchair accessible
restroos are the new-generation Boeing 767s and Airbus
Few airlines will transport wheelchairs
powered by wet-cell batteries.
The State of Hawaii requires a 120-day quarantine for all
dogs entering the state, including guide dogs.
Many passengers who are sight-impaired may have special problems in coping with airport security devices and in comprehending in-flight demonstrations of safety features and
survival equipment such as life vests, oxygen masks and emergency
Policies and practices for accommodating handicapped
pasengers are not uniform.
At least one trunk airline and some
intrastate carriers will not transport wheelchairs.
the handicapped traveler often varies from airport to airport,
even on the same airline and even if the carrier's corporate
policy prohibits discrimination against disabled persons.
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the most fair and equitable policy doesn't always filter down to
the operating level, and when it does, it isn't always uniformly
administered and executed.
One major U.S. carrier went so far as
to produce a training film to instruct its employees in the
application of its policy toward the handicapped traveler, and
the policy was to accommodate the disabled passenger to the
maximum extent possible. Yet, a handicapped passenger attempting to deplane from one of that carrier's aircraft at Dulles
International Airport was informed by an airline employee that
wheelchairs were not permitted aboard mobile lounges.
passenger waited in the aircraft for more than an hour after
other passengers had deplaned before finally being assisted to
Even though the addition of onboard wheelchairs to 767s represents a significant breakthrough for the handicapped passenger, there is no existing standard, Federal or otherwise,
which requires such wheelchairs to be equipped with a seat belt.
In one incident I was informed of recently, a paraplegic
passenger using a beltless wheelchair fell from the chair.
Similar deficiencies exist in non-transport facilities
designed for the disabled traveler.
An official of the
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, himself a handicapped person, recently described some which he
encountered in traveling cross-country to assume his new post in
He used a directory put out by a major U.S. motel
chain which has made a conscientious effort to provide necessary
facilities for handicapped persons.
At one motel described in
the directory as "accessible", and where he stopped for the
night, there was an extra-wide bathroom door, permitting the entry of a wheelchair, and grab bars around the bathtub. There
was also a grab bar around the toilet
making it inaccessible
According to the Society for the Advancement of Travel for
the Handicapped, wheelchair access motor coaches are in short
supply and several dozen are needed immediately, nationwide.
The celebrated Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman, partially paralyzed by polio, estimates that architectural barriers still deny 30 to 50 million handicapped Americans the right to enjoy
the arts, a common reason for travel.
Many barriers which impede travel by handicapped persons are restrooms on interstate buses are generally not
most resistant to change in the less-expensive transport modes:
wheelchairs are not routinely available, as they are at airports, to carry the physically-disabled from the ticket counter to the boarding platform, or from the
platform to the curb, at many train stations and bus
wheelchair accessible, nor are train or subway station
arrival and departure announcements and "all-aboard"
calls cannot always be communicated in a timely fashion
to rail passengers suffering from a hearing disorder.
State governments have taken steps to expand travel and tourism opportunities for handicapped persons, and nearly every
state has a "barriers" law requiring public spaces to be
However, some handicapped individuals report that
application and enforcement of the law often differ from state to
state and even from locale to locale within a state.
The American National Standard Institute has developed
design standards to ensure accessibility to buildings, but there
are no similar standards defining "accessibility" in
These and similar problems affect large numbers of Americans. Although the reliability of available data has been subject to
question, the data we do have indicate that the number of our
handicapped citizens is not decreasing; it's growing larger every year. Today, there are more individuals with "activity