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Courts, Congress And Public Schools Less Trusted by People with Disabilities

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From: National Organization on Disability

According to Harris Interactive®

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2006 - U.S. adults with disabilities are less confident in the leaders of the courts, Congress, and public schools than those without disabilities according to a February 2006 survey by Harris Interactive made available to the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.). People with disabilities and their non-disabled peers are equally confident in the leaders of other national institutions such as the White House, major corporations, and centers of higher education.

Harris Interactive surveyed by telephone among 1,016 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, both disabled, and non-disabled, to gauge their confidence in leaders in a wide range of national institutions. While both groups maintain generally similar feelings about a majority of the institutions discussed, there were sizable differences in perceptions of a few institutions with particular influence upon the lives of people with disabilities.

While most adults, both disabled (56%) and not disabled (49%) have some confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court, there is a sizable difference in those who say they have "a great deal of confidence" (23% of those adults with disabilities have a great deal of confidence, compared to 36% of adults without disabilities).

The differences in levels of confidence toward the justice system seem to extend to the leadership in the lower courts as well. Adults with disabilities are considerably more likely to state that they have "hardly any confidence" than their non-disabled peers, 32% compared to 23% in the lower courts. Those who have "a great deal of confidence" number only 14% of the group with disabilities, compared to 22% of those without.

Similarly, the confidence in Congress among adults with disabilities also lags behind that of the general public. The number of adults expressing "hardly any confidence" in congressional leaders stands at 43%, compared to only 30% of adults without disabilities. Recent congressional action, and legislation which would affect programs benefiting people with disabilities may have contributed to this lower level of confidence. Confidence in America's public school system also seems to be somewhat lower among adults with disabilities than those without. Adults with disabilities express "hardly any confidence" at a rate of 31%, versus only 23% of adults without disabilities.

Michael Deland, President of the National Organization on Disability believes numbers such as these should serve as an impetus to action, "Given the gaps we see in confidence in our most valued democratic institutions, leaders and policy makers should give consideration to the needs, and concerns of this important, and indeed quite sizable constituency."


Harris Interactive conducted the telephone survey within the United States between February 7 and 14, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 1,016 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 246 have a disability and 770 who do not have a disability. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Sampling errors for the sub-samples are higher and vary.

About the National Organization on Disability

The National Organization on Disability, founded in 1982 by Alan A. Reich, promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America's 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. N.O.D. is a 501c3 organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.. For more information visit or contact N.O.D. at 202-293-5960; e-mail:

About Harris Interactive®

Harris Interactive Inc. (, based based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll® and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry.