Lack of Public Accomodations for People with Disabilities in Omaha’s Downtown Shops Limits Social Life

Dechhen Gurung, Keshang Tamang, Megan Stackhouse, Jaiden Busse


Gender, sexuality, and disability are major aspects that affect people’s everyday lives. These three themes are very much interconnected. They affect and influence each other more than meets the eye. For example, there are many misconceptions when it comes to the sexuality of those disabled, specifically, those with a physical disability. Many believe those physically disabled are asexual, or, without sexual attraction to others. Although some disabled identify as asexual, for the majority of disabled people, this inclination is false. Disabled people desire sex and they desire romantic relationships. Those with disabilities struggle to find love, with popular date hotspots being inaccessible to those physically disabled, dating can be extremely frustrating. It is extremely important that we ensure accessibility to everyone, so we can all enjoy what life has to offer, together. 

Gender and sexuality drive today’s society. In Omaha, downtown is much more than a popular place to hang out with friends and family: it’s a place where careers are born and dreams are fulfilled for the able-bodied Omahans. Thus, disability is often overlooked in these two categories. Whether intellectual or physical, people with disabilities find it difficult to strut their stuff and express themselves, especially in a city with a downtown not properly modified for their needs. We used Google Street View to document the sidewalks, entrances, and parking lots of various restaurants and shops in the Old Market and attached pictures and graphs of which buildings were deemed accessible based on the employees’ politeness, accessibility, facilities or lack thereof, and street-level infrastructure.



Looking at the data collected, two of the shops were ground level thus, easily accessible for people with disabilities. likewise, Two of the shops had stairs but the ramps and elevators were available; therefore, it is also accessible for people with disabilities. Nonetheless, two of the shops had stairs but no ramp and the elevators were available so people with disabilities could not get access to it. Our data was collected through Google Street View and six shops were interrogated in total.   


Overall, downtown Omaha is not an accessible place. Most of the area does not have adequate accommodations for wheelchair or otherwise disabled citizens. Brick streets provide safety hazards as well as a tough time for those in wheelchairs. The lack of ramps across streets and into restaurants and shops make life in downtown Omaha stressful for disabled people, especially given the large commuting population for work. 


From the Secondary data we collected, we can find out that most of the employers showed politeness and were willing to help. Even though most employers acted nice, when the store is busy, it’s more likely that the employer won’t give more facility or priority to the person in a wheelchair. The accessibility in the store for the people in the wheelchair depends on where the store is located as well. If the store is located on the ground-level then they wouldn’t discriminate against people from coming there and it’s hard to make it accessible for the wheelchair in the downtown area. Politeness doesn’t seem to be the problem than accessibility and facilities. 

Street-level infrastructure

When it comes to the streets of the Old Market, they most likely tend to be spacious and have curb cuts available – usually at both ends of a length of the sidewalk. The sidewalk and parking lot conditions vary – unevenness and potholes play a major role in why those in wheelchairs loathe heading downtown. In having difficulty just trying to maneuver downtown whilst using sidewalks and parking lots, some avoid the area completely. Even some buildings labeled as ‘ground-level’ still require the use of stairs. With many reserved handicapped parking spaces on almost every street, finding somewhere to park can be difficult.


How often have you felt sorry for people with disabilities and thought what if they were not born that way or that should not have happened to them? hat were the circumstances that made you feel that way? Most of the time, when you see someone not being able to do things or go to places that they desire, right?  Disability often is said to be taken as a unique attribute of someone thus, should be perceived positively but is it possible with some many hindrances on the way and two of the major ones being accessibility and facilities; Without them, it’s highly likely that disability could not be taken very positively. There are still numerous places that do not provide any facilities for people with special needs nor do they  permit the access to disabled people, limiting their potential to a certain extent unlike someone without a disability. People with disabilities should also have as much accessibility to places or things that all the people without the disability have. They should be provided with adequate facilities so they would not have to compromise in anything that their hearts desires.  

It’s very common for employers to see them being polite and nice to the customer because it’s their job but some employers do it willingly more from their characteristics. So, it won’t be surprising for them to treat each person differently based on their circumstances. Even though the law asks people not to discriminate based on gender,  sexuality, or disability, we can still see people discriminating and putting another person down who is different from them. Even though the law says men and women are equal, women are still getting a low paycheck than men in many workplaces. It’s not only for the gender, but it’s also for everything that’s somehow different from one another. For example, it’s common to see one race discriminating against another race based on the setting, one gender discriminating against another gender, heterosexual people discriminating against homosexual people or other sexuality people, or normal people discriminating against people in the wheelchair. Even though the law has tried to made everything easier for every person and tried to make it equal, people don’t seem to practice it. 

In the article “Sexuality in People with Intellectual Disability: a Review of Literature,” it states that men are more likely to leave their wives or remarry after they found their wife suffered from Intellectual disability, and Intellectual disability symptoms can be seen anything in life, it can be in age 45, or young age. People don’t treat them right to the person who is different from them. Disability people more likely to separate themselves thinking they are not normal and that makes them isolated and lonely if they don’t engage. It’s important to treat everyone the same to make them feel safe and not to get in depression from loneliness. People with disabilities are more likely to get abused or teased on their disability. Even though employers are polite and nice, there’s always a place, where bully exist or sometimes even a friend makes it uncomfortable teasing about what’s different on one person. Sickness is part of life and people made it complicated by making them alone instead of treating them with love and care for their wellness. The article mentions leaving a wife after she gets sick with intellectual disability, which shows how cruel a human can be. When the wife needs real love and support that’s when her husband leaves her.  

When people are different, they have to act the same in front of other people. Differences should be normal in people because everyone is different in their thought, behavior, personality, and looks, and they should celebrate it instead of being the same and discriminating against the differences. In the article “On Being Woman, Other and Disabled: Navigating Identity,” because of the society, the disabled girl was forced to act normal in public because she can’t get a job, possibly won’t find guy, and even if she did then she would have to be scared of passing the disability to her child. People can never hide who they are, and they should overcome their fear of being themselves. As the article mentions, It’s believed that the disabled body is made to be felt guilt and humiliation if they don’t overcome those fears, and don’t face the humiliation. The author of the article “On Being Woman, Other and Disabled: Navigating Identity” mentions that she overcame her guilt and shame and accepted her identity as disabled, which made her now-famous book writer and her autobiography.

Sometimes the sexism and sexuality inequality comes from the religion. In the article “On Being Woman, Other and Disabled: Navigating Identity,” it states that in middle eastern if they are Muslim, other than men and women can’t exist. Also, Christianity has a similar concept and most in Hinduism. Religions are in the world to guide people but it seems like it’s misleading on the stuff about gender and sexuality. Developed nations are more open-minded than in developing nations. Gender diversity has positive effects on the country ‘s innovation and development. Not only gender, but a human should also have diversity and every difference. Everyone is equal and everyone should treat each other as humans

Policy should focus more on equity more than equality. We need special accommodation for people in wheelchairs to make it equal to others. In the article “Disability discrimination in higher education,” it says that disabled people are less educated compared to their peers. For that, the school needs to give extra service and extra stuff to help disabled people to make it easier for them to study. As a human, everyone has the desire to do all the basic stuff, like going to restaurants, going to watch sports, get an education, so everyone should have equal access to all of those things. 


Despite what gender one identifies as, their sexuality, whether being disabled or not, each and every individual should be celebrated. One’s disability status should not affect their oil ability to live. Disabled people are still people. They may be confined to a wheelchair, require support canes, or use hearing-aids, yet they are still human beings, with human feelings and desires. It is so important to ensure accessibility,  so everyone can enjoy what life has to offer. 


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