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Of america's heritage disability history an important part
O F F I C E O F D I S A B I L I T Y E M P L O Y M E www.zycnzj.com
zycnzj.com/ N T P O L I C Y
An Important Part
of America’s Heritage
Defining the Next Generation
Cover montage photo credits: Top photo of FDR statue photographic collage courtesy Neal Presant
and Jonathan Young. Bottom photo courtesy George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
The Americans with Disabilities Act and took action, holding sit-ins in Federal
(ADA) was signed by President George H. buildings, blocking inaccessible buses from
W. Bush on July 26, 1990. As a result of moving, drafting legislation, and protesting
this landmark legislation, communities in the streets. And like the broader
and workplaces across the nation have movements that preceded it, the disability
become more inclusive and welcoming for rights movement had its own heroes and
America’s nearly 40 million people with champions: Ed Roberts, Gini Laurie and
disabilities. Justin Dart to name a few.
Despite the ADA’s importance, however, Teaching children about the contributions
many Americans are unfamiliar with the of particular populations to our nation’s
events that led to its passage. Inspired by history, such as women and people of
the civil rights and anti-war movements of various ethnic backgrounds, has been
the 1960s and the feminist movement of recognized as important through the
the 1970s, disability leaders joined forces declaration of dedicated months as well as
and Awareness Weeks” in Florida’s public
schools. This initiative began when the FYC took
its idea to the 2006 Family Café Conference in
Orlando, where they met with then Governor
Jeb Bush, who agreed to support the effort by
issuing an Executive Order. Subsequently, bills
have been introduced in both the Florida House
and Senate. Florida’s youth leaders are now
collaborating with youth leaders from other
states interested in introducing similar bills.
The North Carolina Youth Leadership Network
(NCYLN) successfully advocated for the month of
October to be devoted to “Disability History and
Photo courtesy Yoshiko Dart Awareness.” In March 2007, proposed legislation
was filed in the North Carolina House and
other educational programs. Disability history, Senate. To boost the effort, the NCYLN formed
however, has been largely ignored in school a partnership with the Alliance of Disability
curricula. This is particularly paradoxical since Advocates Center for Independent Living. With
anyone, regardless of age, race, or heritage, may the backing of the disability community and
become a part of the population of people with other allies, including the North Carolina Parent
disabilities at any time. But the tide is beginning Teacher Association, there was significant public
to turn—due mainly to the grassroots efforts of support to pass the bill, which was signed by the
young disability leaders. Governor in July 2007.
Promoting Positive Change Washington State successfully passed a bill
at the State Level that established October as “Disability History
Month” in all public schools. In passing the bill,
The youth-led movement for equal education the legislature stated that “recognizing disability
on disability history celebrated its first victory history will inspire students with disabilities to
in West Virginia in April 2006, when the West feel a greater sense of pride, reduce harassment
Virginia Youth Disability Caucus was and bullying, and help keep students with
instrumental in the passage of an act establishing disabilities in school.” Washington’s bill also
the third week in October as “Disability History requires public institutions of higher education
Week.” This legislation requires public schools to provide educational activities related to
to educate students about disability history, disability history during the month.
people with disabilities, and the disability
rights movement and encourages colleges Reflecting one of its 2007 legislative priorities,
and universities to promote awareness and the Idaho State Independent Living Council
understanding of disability history. Further, proposed legislation establishing the third
it encourages the legislature to provide week of October as “Disability History Week,”
recognition of Disability History Week through during which Idaho schools would be required
an annual proclamation and provide resources to instruct on disability history, the independent
for instruction and activities. living movement, and disability rights. A con-
current resolution making October “Disability
Other states are following suit. The Florida History Month” was passed by the State Legi-
Youth Council (FYC) is seeking to establish the slature in March and went into effect shortly
zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/resolution encourages education
first two weeks in October as “Disability History thereafter. The
on disability history during October, but does development of skills such as goal-setting,
not make it mandatory. Advocates are also decision-making, and working well with others,
trying to integrate disability history into the attributes essential for success in adulthood and
state curriculum and Idaho Standards employment—and future advocacy efforts.
Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders Today
These and other efforts to integrate disability
history into schools and communities reflect
one of the key components of effective youth
leadership development—learning about the
history, values, and beliefs of one’s society.
Such youth leadership development experiences
correlate with a number of positive outcomes,
including decreases in negative behaviors
(e.g., alcohol and tobacco use and violence)
and increases in positive attitudes and behaviors
(e.g., motivation, academic performance,
self-esteem, problem-solving, positive health
decisions, and interpersonal skills). Youth
leadership development activities are similarly
linked to increased self-efficacy and the Photo courtesy Ken Stein
Following are resources for educators and others to enhance awareness and understanding of
disability history and the contributions of people with disabilities:
ADL Curriculum Connections: by recovering, chronicling, and interpreting their
Anti-Bias Lesson Plans and Resources stories. The site’s library contains
for K–12 Educators document and visual stills collections.
connections/fall_2005/ Disability Social History Project
This site provides curriculum suggestions www.disabilityhistory.org/index.html
for teaching disability history. This resource is a community history project that
provides information about famous
Center on Human Policies: activists in the disability movement, a disability
Disability Studies for Teachers history timeline, and related information.
This site is a reference tool for teachers in grades EDGE - Education for Disability
6-12. It includes lesson plans, activities, and ma- and Gender Equity
terials for teaching disability history. www.disabilityhistory.org/dwa/edge/
Disability History Museum This site includes a high school curriculum
www.disabilitymuseum.org incorporating disability and gender issues
This site promotes understanding about the into the Humanities and Sciences.
historical experience of people with disabilities
Resources (continued) Resource Center for Independent Living
Family Village DisabilityRightsMovement.html
www.familyvillage.wisc.edu/general/ This site provides a timeline of the
history.html disability civil rights movement.
This resource centralizes a number
of resources on disability history. Santa Monica College Accommodating
Students with Disabilities
Florida Youth Council www.smc.edu/disabledstudent/Guide/
This site details the grassroots efforts This page offers insight into the
to celebrate “Disability History and philosophy behind disability rights.
Awareness Weeks” in Florida and
provides general information about Smithsonian National Museum
of American History
Minnesota Governor’s Council This site offers a virtual tour of the Disability
on Developmental Disabilities Rights Movement Exhibit at the Smithsonian
www.mncdd.org/parallels/index.html National Museum of American History.
This site provides extensive information Tolerance.Org
on disability history. www.tolerance.org/teach/activities/
Mountain State Centers This site contains activities that can be done in
for Independent Living the classroom relating to disability history.
www.mtstcil.org/advocacy/ West Virginia Legislation
This page is dedicated to the youth HTML/2006_SESSIONS/RS/BILLS/
who brought the “Establishing Disability hb4491%20enr.htm
This is the West Virginia bill that established
History Week” law to West Virginia.
“Disability History Week” in the state.
Parent Advocacy Coalition West Virginia News Release on Disability
for Educational Rights (PACER Center) History Week
This page provides information to other states
Session2/ exploring ways to spread the word about their
This page provides both resources and Disability History Weeks/Months. It also
curricula for teaching disability history. provides resources for teachers.
Office of Disability Employment Policy - U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW • Washington, DC 20210
Voice: 1-866-ODEP-DOL (633-7365) • TTY: 1-877-889-5627