The Disability Rights Movement

The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation

Doris Zames Fleischer
Frieda Zames
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 323
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  • Book Info
    The Disability Rights Movement
    Book Description:

    In this updated edition, Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames expand their encyclopedic history of the struggle for disability rights in the United States, to include the past ten years of disability rights activism.The book includes a new chapter on the evolving impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the continuing struggle for cross-disability civil and human rights, and the changing perceptions of disability.

    The authors provide a probing analysis of such topics as deinstitutionalization, housing, health care, assisted suicide, employment, education, new technologies, disabled veterans, and disability culture.

    Based on interviews with over one hundred activists,The Disability Rights Movementtells a complex and compelling story of an ongoing movement that seeks to create an equitable and diverse society, inclusive of people with disabilities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0745-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-XII)
  3. Personal Notes
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
    Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames
  4. Preface to the Updated Edition
    (pp. XV-XVIII)
  5. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. XIX-XXII)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. XXIII-XXIV)
  7. Chronology
    (pp. XXV-XXXII)
  8. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. XXXIII-XXXVI)
  9. Chapter One “Wheelchair Bound” and “The Poster Child”
    (pp. 1-13)

    “Hope for the Crippled” was the name of a postage stamp issued in 1970, said Judith E. Heumann, current Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and quadriplegic wheelchair user, in her 1980 testimony to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.¹ The stamp pictured “a person seated in a wheelchair rising to a standing position [that] indicated what people thought of a disabled individual in a wheelchair . . . . You are not considered to be a whole person; however, once you are in this standing position—that is normality.” In January 1999, the nation saw another...

  10. Chapter Two Seeing by Touch, Hearing by Sign
    (pp. 14-32)

    Since blind people had access to spoken language, they needed a tactile alphabet, such as Louis Braille’s 1829 elegant raised dot method for reading and writing. Following the logic of English grammar and word order, the Braille system served to integrate blind people into the larger society. On the other hand, deaf people required a visual syntax, necessitating a form of communication that tended to separate them from the hearing world. Integration for deaf people has required them to concentrate on speaking and lip-reading, which too often have been Herculean tasks requiring effort that they could have more productively spent...

  11. Chapter Three Deinstitutionalization and Independent Living
    (pp. 33-48)

    The trend in the late 1950S and early 1960s toward deinstitutionalization allowed people with severe physical disabilities to begin entering the mainstream, bringing a new population to the developing disability rights movement. Nearly all people with serious physical impairments had trouble coping with a physical environment so ill-adapted to their needs, and many were spurred into activism by the discrimination and lack of understanding they encountered.

    An early experiment in deinstitutionalization occurred at New York City’s Goldwater Memorial Hospital, a long-term chronic care institution, where it was anticipated that people would remain their entire lives. Although hospital officials assumed that...

  12. Chapter Four Groundbreaking Disability Rights Legislation: Section 504
    (pp. 49-70)

    On October 26, 1972, and again on March 27, 1973, President Nixon vetoed early versions of what ultimately became the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—including Sections 501–504—both times asserting that the legislation was too expensive. He also argued that the act “diverted the program from its vocational objective into medical and social welfare policies” and “added a variety of new categorical programs.”! Throughout the country, disability activists protested these Nixon vetoes. In New York City, Judith E. Heumann and eighty allies organized a sit-in on Madison Avenue in October 1972, bringing traffic to a halt.²

    At the annual...

  13. Chapter Five The Struggle for Change: In the Streets and in the Courts
    (pp. 71-87)

    The struggle for civil rights for people with disabilities took place with less visibility than, but in the same venues as, the battles fought by African Americans—the streets and the courts. Demonstrations were held; lawsuits were filed; new organizations sprung up. While the names associated with the disability rights movement—leaders such as Judith E. Heumann, Patrisha Wright, Wade Blank, Michael Auberger, and Justin Dart, and attorneys like Sidney Wolinsky and Stephen Gold—do not resonate in the same way as, for example, Medgar Evers and Thurgood Marshall, the victories, large and small, of disability activists brought about a...

  14. Chapter Six The Americans with Disabilities Act
    (pp. 88-109)

    At an April 18, 1997, conference of disability advocates in Uniondale, New York, Joseph Shapiro, author ofNo Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement,¹ indicated that because the ADA had so much support, its passage was not a daunting task. In a meeting with New York City disability rights advocates on the following day, Justin Dart, who has been called the “father of the ADA,” disagreed, pointing to the concerted effort to prevent the passage of, or weaken, the ADA by such powerful forces as, for example, the five hundred thousand-member National Federation of Independent Business.²...

  15. Chapter Seven Access to Jobs and Health Care
    (pp. 110-131)

    Unlike other targets of job discrimination, people with disabilities have an obstacle embedded in the language that defines them. The term “disability” has varying meaning in at least three different contexts: In the Workers’ Compensation program “disability means the damages that one person collects from another as a result of an insult or injury. In the Social Security Disability Insurance program, disability refers to a condition that links ill health and unemployment.”¹ And in the context of civil rights laws, “disability” is linked to discrimination. Disability advocates believe that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the application of the Americans with Disabilities...

  16. Chapter Eight “Not Dead Yet” and Physician-Assisted Suicide
    (pp. 132-148)

    With increasingly sophisticated technology for life-sustaining treatment, doctors frequently are given the awesome responsibility of determining when a life should end. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed that “society is always attempting to make the physician into a killer—for instance, to kill the defective child at birth . . . . It is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.”¹ People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to judgments that their lives are not worth living.²

    On January 8, 1997, while the U.S. Supreme Court was hearingVacco v. Quill—a case involving the constitutionality of state laws...

  17. Chapter Nine Disability and Technology
    (pp. 149-169)

    The disability rights movement “is a by-product of the technological revolution,” in the words of one commentator.¹ “Breakthroughs in medicine, the development of computers that allow the hearing and speech impaired to use telephones, and advancements in motorized wheelchairs have meant that more people with severe handicaps can live longer, can do more for themselves and have the potential for enjoying fuller lives.” Without political activism, however, technological advances do not automatically translate into gains for people with disabilities.

    Universal Design “Growing up in a world full of barriers,” the design pioneer Ronald L. Mace, a polio survivor and a...

  18. Chapter Ten Disabled Veterans Claim Their Rights
    (pp. 170-183)

    The activism of disabled veterans from World War I to the Gulf War seeking medical services, benefits, education, and jobs impacted the disability rights movement. Because the general public accepted rehabilitation and inclusion into the mainstream for disabled veterans of the two world wars more readily than for civilians with disabilities, disabled veterans were the first to make progress in social integration. A question became self-evident. If veterans could be successful as students, employers and employees, husbands and fathers, community leaders and neighbors, why couldn’t civilians? In addition, a few disabled veterans organizations, breaking with many of their colleagues, recognized...

  19. Chapter Eleven Education: Integration in the Least Restrictive Environment
    (pp. 184-199)

    The failure of the states, even as late as the 1960s, to provide many children with disabilities with the educational opportunities they required indicated the necessity for appropriate federal legislation. Two experts in the education of children with disabilities observe:

    While the nation was seeking to improve the quality of the minority child’s schooling, the handicapped child’s educational needs remained forgotten, even though these needs were easily as great as those of the most cruelly disadvantaged able-bodied children. At that time perhaps one handicapped child in eight—over one million handicapped children—received no education whatsoever, while more than half...

  20. Chapter Twelve Identity and Culture
    (pp. 200-215)

    Lex Frieden, former director of the National Council on Disability, refers to the two “strands” of the disability rights movement that came together in the effort to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.¹ Thefirststrand—made up of people with disabilities living independently in the community,without personal assistance services—emphasizes civil rights as a means of securing equal access to transportation, education, employment, housing, and health care. Thesecondstrand—composed of people with severe disabilities whorequire personal assistance servicesin order to live independently in the community—stresses the services they need for maintaining their independence....

  21. Chapter Thirteen Disability Rights in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 216-256)

    Although disability rights advocates and organizations gathered in July 2010 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to take a hard look back to determine how this pioneering law as well as other legislation and judicial decisions occurring since its passage have actually affected the lives of people with disabilities. The National Council on Disability (NCD) noted in 2007, “Many Americans with disabilities remain frustrated that disability discrimination has not been eliminated, despite ADA implementation. People with disabilities reported the ADA has not been fully enforced; the barriers they...

  22. Notes
    (pp. 257-308)
  23. Index
    (pp. 309-323)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 324-324)