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Disability Rights, Studies & Justice   Tags: holistic learning program, knowledge commons  

Provides a background in the frameworks of disability history, disability as a field of academic study, and disability work within justice movements.
Last Updated: Nov 3, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Disability Rights Print Page

What is the Disability Rights Movement?

The Disability Rights Movement refers to activism that is specifically aimed at the creation and passage of legislation and policy that protects the rights of disabled people. The movement notably contains activism that was built off of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, leading to the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

These pieces of legislation are what enable disabled Americans to receive accommodations, navigate physically accessible spaces, and access more equitable education. These rights were extremely hard-fought, and are beautiful pieces of our country's history, and the history of disabled people.


504 Amendment Protest

Activist Narratives

  • "I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes" by Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer
    The author's memoir paints a vivid picture of the 16 years she spent in the Belchertown State School in Belchertown, MA, as dictated using word boards and eye movements. Provides an in-depth look at what institutions were like in the 1950s-80s. Available in the Five College Library.
  • The Movement for Independent Living
    As inhumane institutions began to close due to health and human rights violations, there was a movement to design supports for disabled people to live independently. Much of this work initially took place in Berkley, California with the formation of the Center for Independent Living.
  • Patient No More
    A virtual tour of the "Patient No More" exhibit which details the story of how 100 activists took the Office of Health, Education & Welfare in San Francisco in 1977 for 26 days in the longest non-violent occupation of a federal building in U.S. history, leading to the passage of the 504 Amendments.
  • The Capitol Crawl
    When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was having trouble getting through the House, over 1,000 people with disabilities abandoned their mobility devices and crawled up the steps of the capitol building.

Global Disability Rights Today


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