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Poll: Views on intellectually disabled in U.S. life conflict

The struggle for the rights of people with any form of disability can be a hard one. Whether a person is born with a physical or intellectual disability or becomes disabled due to injury or illness, the process of obtaining support allowed under law can be daunting.

Not only are there stringent rules regulating who qualifies, but those rules are subject to human interpretation and that can often lead to arbitrary denials, which then require going through the arduous appeals process. Working with an experienced attorney to level the mountains and fill the valleys can make it easier.

It doesn't help, either, that the general attitude among the public in California and the rest of the country is broadly disparate and changing only slowly. This may be particularly true as regards attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities.

But a new poll suggests that while there are conflicting views about the standing of individuals with intellectual disabilities, there is a hint of a silver lining. The survey, conducted on behalf of the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and Shriver Media, finds that there seems to be a move toward more acceptance.

Unfortunately, the tide of opinion seems to rise and fall depending on a respondent's personal connection to that particular population.

Harris Poll surveyed more than 2,000 people nationwide using the Internet. What it found was that 93 percent of respondents supported the idea of intellectually disabled people in the workplace. But 20 percent said they'd be uncomfortable hiring such individuals.

Opinion on mainstreaming children with intellectual disabilities in school also varied. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that should not be happening.

Maria Shriver, founder of Shriver Media, says she is encouraged by one particular bit of data from the poll. It showed that more than 60 percent of women aged 18 to 34 indicated they would accept having their child date or marry a person with intellectual disabilities.

She says that's an indication that young people are "paving the way to a more conscious, caring and compassionate society."

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