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Disability Rights Movement Growing Individual Voices in Political Influence. Overview - 1900. Political Influence of People with Disabilities. No Organizations to encourage or support Individuals with Disabilities. Public Perception: Should be Excluded.

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Overview- 1900

Political Influence of People with Disabilities

No Organizations to encourage or support Individuals with Disabilities.

Public Perception: Should be Excluded

overview 2009 political influence of individuals with disabilities

Serving in elected and appointed offices

  • Senators & Governors
  • County Executives
  • Serving on Boards and Commissions
Overview - 2009Political Influence of Individuals With Disabilities

Maryland Disabilities Law Center

On Our Own

  • As Voters, kept more informed and engaged
  • Supported by outside advocacy groups
  • Taking an individual “voice” as well as a collective “voice” for the disability community

Maryland Disabilities Forum


Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Epilepsy Foundation


Maryland Works

historical perspective
Historical Perspective
  • People with Disabilities forced into dependency.
  • Others speak for them, label them, and while often with the best intentions – generally don’t view individuals with disabilities as deserving direct participation.
a new vision
A New Vision
  • Self Advocacy and Individual Empowerment through inclusion in the political process.
  • Independent Living, Equal Rights and Access to ensure full citizenship and progressive participation in every facet of society.
dorothea dix
Dorothea Dix
  • In 1841 Dorothea Dix, a Boston schoolteacher, began a campaign to make the public aware of the plight of people with mental illness. By 1880, as a direct result of her efforts, 32 psychiatric hospitals for the poor had opened.
dorothea dix memorial to the legislature of massachusetts jan 1843
Dorothea Dix Memorial To The Legislature of MassachusettsJan. 1843
  • “I have seen many who, part of the year, are chained or caged. The use of cages all but universal. Hardly a town but can refer to some not distant period of using them; chains are less common; negligences frequent; willful abuse less frequent than sufferings proceeding from ignorance, or want of consideration.”
dorothea dix memorial to the legislature of massachusetts jan 18439
Dorothea Dix Memorial To The Legislature of MassachusettsJan. 1843
  • “It is not few, but many, it is not a part, but the whole, who bear unqualified testimony to this evil. A voice strong and deep comes up from every almshouse and prison in Massachusetts where the insane are or have been protesting against such evils as have been illustrated in the preceding pages.”
Dix successfully petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to remove individuals with disabilities from prisons, and to begin classifying their disabilities to determine treatment in state funded institutions.
  • Dix also petitioned Congress in 1848.
  • President Pierce vetoed a bill sponsored by Dorothea Dix calling for the sale of federal lands to subsidize institutions for “indigents with mental disabilities”. May 3, 1854.
  • Set precedent for no federal intervention for next 50 years.
franklin delano roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Elected President of the

United States in 1933.

  • In 1921, he’d contracted

a disease which paralyzed

him from the waist down.

fdr s contribution
FDR’s Contribution
  • FDR established the Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Institute which gave way to technical advancements for people with disabilities:
    • More advanced wheelchair designs
    • Accessible Restroom Designs
    • Automobile Possibilities for alternatively

controlled devices.

    • He helped found the “National

Foundation for Infantile Paralysis”

(now known as the March of Dimes).

    • Social Security was developed in response to

the increasing numbers of disabled War Veterans.

1930s 1940s parents organize
1930s-1940sParents Organize
  • Parents who did not want their children institutionalized or banned from public schools sought each other out and started to organize.
  • Concerned about lack of community resources and support, advocated need for “special education”.
league for the physically handicapped
League for the Physically Handicapped
  • New Deal programs label people with disabilities as “Unemployable”.
  • In May of 1935, a group of 3 men and 3 women with disabilities went to see the director of the Emergency Relief Bureau in New York City to change that policy.
league for the physically handicapped17
League for the Physically Handicapped
  • They demonstrated for a week, demanding “handicapped people receive a just share of the millions of jobs being given out by the government.”
  • As a result, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) hired about forty League members.
  • The protest was the beginning of the “League of the Physically Handicapped”, and over the next few years they fought job discrimination and contested the ideology of disability that controlled early twentieth century public policies, social arrangements and professional practices.
cross disability action
Cross-Disability Action
  • In September 1936, the League joined forces with the League for the Advancement of the Deaf to secure a promise that 7% of future WPA jobs in New York would go to deaf and handicapped individuals. As a result, 1500 people went to work.
disability rights movement a new understanding
Disability Rights Movement…A New Understanding
  • Predicated on the notion that it is the structural and attitudinal barriers in capitalist society that are the fundamental cause for the discrimination and oppression faced by people with disabilities.
  • In this framework, people with disabilities are limited by the systemic lack of physical access to public services, the failure of educational institutions and employers to make materials available in alternative formats, and the intricate bureaucracy that people must navigate in order to get essential services such as income support and medical services.
  • Attention needed to be redirected from the medical impairment or “medical model” of disablement to the social-political issues that underpin disability oppression. In other words, the first step in the liberation of people with disabilities is a fundamental paradigm shift in societal values.
disability rights movement
Disability Rights Movement
  • Struggle to gain full citizenship
  • Demand for equality, independence, autonomy, access to public life
  • Integration vs. “separate but equal”
  • People First Language
rolling quads
“Rolling Quads”
  • Beginning with Ed Roberts, the “Rolling Quads” were a Berkeley based student activist group seeking Independent Living and Equal Access in the 1960s.
  • The Rolling Quads questioned their living situation.
    • Why were they forced to live in a hospital?
    • Why was it so difficult to travel around the city?
    • What options did a student with disabilities have?
    • What could the University do to help students with disabilities?
    • What would they do after graduation?

Ed Roberts

rolling quads24
“Rolling Quads”
  • “Rolling Quads” members engaged in campus demonstrations as well as political activism and were able to accomplish:
    • The formation of a “Physically Disabled Students Program” that became the nation’s first Disabled Students Office.
    • An “independent living” course to discuss improving conditions for people with disabilities in the city of Berkeley, as they had done with the University.
    • Petitioning for government funds to create The Center for Independent Living or CIL.
disabled in action
Disabled in Action
  • Founded in 1970, “Disabled in Action” was based in radical activism.
  • Adopted the tactic of direct political protest to raise both the consciousness of people with disabilities and awareness of the discriminatory barriers endemic in American society.
disabled in action26
Disabled in Action
  • During the 1972 presidential election, militants in Disabled in Action joined with disabled and often highly politicized Vietnam veterans, clearly an influential base of support for the American disability rights movements, demanding an on-camera debate with President Nixon.
  • They also organized a demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial after President Nixon vetoed a spending bill to fund disability programs.
rehabilitation act
Rehabilitation Act
  • The high point of the 1970s resurgence of disability liberation politics was the remarkable San Francisco occupation that occurred in conjunction with protests aimed at forcing the release of regulations pursuant to s. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • The regulations were to outline how it was illegal for federal agencies, contractors, or public universities to discriminate on the basis of handicap. They had been delayed by previous Administrations but there was an expectation that the incoming Carter Administration would fulfill its promise to issue the regulations.
rehabilitation act28
Rehabilitation Act
  • Democrats' policy makers were stalling and wanted to substantially modify the regulations to permit continued segregation in education and other areas of public life. Disability rights activists mobilized in nine cities across the United States.
  • In Washington, three hundred demonstrators occupied the offices of the Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) Secretary for some twenty-eight hours despite the termination of the office's telephone lines by authorities and the refusal to permit food through to the protestors.
rehabilitation act30
Rehabilitation Act
  • In San Francisco the movement raged on. There, disability rights activists occupied the HEW federal building for twenty-five days culminating in total victory: the issuing of the regulations without any amendments.
  • Many of the participants of the occupation, at times as many as 120, literally risked their lives, as they were without their personal care attendants or assistive devices, in order to pursue their fight for social justice and integration into mainstream society.
The impact of building cross-disability solidarity was remarkable.
  • Instead of arbitrary divisions based on diagnostic categories, people with disabilities united around common political goals.
  • The HEW Occupation was one of those rare events where the consciousness of the participants was dramatically transformed and their largely neglected creativity unleashed.
  • Many of the participants had previously seen their oppression as personal medical problems. A real sense of disability pride was developed that would have lasting positive effects in building grassroots disability rights movements.
policy that followed the disability rights movement
Policy that Followed the Disability Rights Movement
  • 1970 Urban Mass Transit Act: requires that all new mass transit vehicles be equipped with wheelchair lifts.
  • 1975 Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights Act: among other things, establishes Protection and Advocacy (P & A).
  • 1975 Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142): requires free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible for children with disabilities. This law is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • 1978 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act: provides for consumer-controlled centers for independent living.
1983 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act: provides for the Client Assistance Program (CAP), an advocacy program for consumers of rehabilitation and independent living services.
  • 1985 Mental Illness Bill of Rights Act: requires protection and advocacy services (P & A) for people with mental illness.
  • 1988 Civil Rights Restoration Act: counteracts bad case law by clarifying Congress' original intention that under the Rehabilitation Act, discrimination in ANY program or service that is a part of an entity receiving federal funding -- not just the part which actually and directly receives the funding -- is illegal.
  • 1988 Air Carrier Access Act: prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and provides for equal access to air transportation services.
  • 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act: prohibits discrimination in housing against people with disabilities and families with children. Also provides for architectural accessibility of certain new housing units, renovation of existing units, and accessibility modifications at the renter's expense.
american disabled for accessible public transit adapt
American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT)
  • In 1983, the organization “American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit” (ADAPT) was formed by disability rights activists in several cities across America to highlight the inaccessibility of public transit to mobility impaired people.
  • ADAPT repeatedly disrupted the conventions of the American Public Transit Association, to the point of requiring mass arrests, in order to raise awareness of the industry's hostility to implementing accessibility features that would enable people with disabilities to participate fully as citizens.
  • They also demonstrated a dramatic flair for symbolism and a sense of strategic genius. Crawling up the stairs of important but inaccessible public buildings, including the eighty-three marble steps of the Capitol building, to demonstrate their exclusion from American society.
  • Having secured a measure of victory in this field, they renamed themselves “American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today” and have continued their direct action tactics to raise awareness of the need for attendant care programs, that provide assistance with activities of daily living, to permit people with disabilities to live independently rather than face warehousing.
people first
People First
  • Starting in the 1970s and permeating public policy language and perception, self advocacy groups chose a “People First” approach to change the context of disabling labels.
americans with disabilities act
Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the most significant civil rights legislation to be enacted by Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone who has a mental or physical disability in the area of employment, public services, transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications.
a vote is a voice
The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)

A Vote is A Voice
  • Voting Rights Act of (1965)
  • The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and the Handicapped Act (1984)

With increasing accessibility to voting locations, individuals with disabilities are actively pursuing their rights as citizens to engage in the political determination of leadership.

Congress enacted the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which required polling places to have at least one voting system accessible for people with disabilities.

Today we find people with disabilities more often living in the community, employed in an integrated workforce, voting, and holding appointed and elected offices.
  • While discrimination still exists, public perception of disability has been steadily shifting to that of equality, inclusion, and independence for all.
presented by the maryland disabilities forum
Presented By: The Maryland Disabilities Forum
  • A non-profit cross-disability organization led by people with disabilities that produces statewide systems change in order to achieve community inclusion, civil rights, and equal opportunity. This is accomplished through education, leadership development and facilitating consensus with the disability community, while respecting its diversity.
  • This display offers a glimpse into the evolution of advocacy and influence from no representation in the policies that govern individuals with disabilities, to advocacy, and eventually self advocacy. In essence it is a movement from exclusion and

segregation to full inclusion.