Originally appeared in The Legal Intelligencer
June 24, 2016
By Ben Feldman and Linda Peyton
Michael Anderson is one of the many individuals in the United States living with severe disabilities. He requires the use of a wheelchair and a personal care attendant (PCA) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There was a time in this country when Anderson would have been institutionalized rather than living in the community enjoying such pleasures as a visit to Philadelphia’s renowned Franklin Institute. His PCA is a service that is required if he is to remain in the community. It is not a trivial preference.
When Anderson tried to visit the Franklin Institute with his full-time PCA, he was told that his aide had to pay admission. When he challenged that discriminatory practice in federal court under the ADA, the museum analogized Anderson’s request to a parent asking for free admission to the museum when accompanying a child. McHugh, took issue with this comparison, and in a May 6 opinion excoriating the museum, found it had violated the ADA and ordered the museum to discontinue its discriminatory practices by granting free admission to all PCAs accompanying people with severe disabilities.
The community at large should be outraged by the Franklin Institute’s policy, and response to Anderson’s request to visit without having to pay an additional cost for his PCA. We should not be shocked, however.
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