Throughout history anyone with a disability was considered helpless, hopeless and destitute beings. From the medieval times (18th-19th) century till late 1990’s disabled people were oppressed and discriminated. Moreover, in the 1940’s disabled people particularly in Africa and Europe were considered abnormal, supernatural and often believed that evil spirits possessed them. They were also dehumanized and treated cruelly as they were tied up to furniture for a long period of time; they were also put and locked down in asylums, as people with disabilities were discriminated and seen as ugly, useless and weird people, who were not given equal rights with to what called as “normal people”. But the worse of them all was when a law in the United States was conducted in order to put disabled people down and to euthanize them. This act was mostly legitimized in the United State in the early 1920’s. The Supreme Court saw that sterilizing the disabled people was the right approach to end their suffering. There are more than one billion individuals that have a disability. Till today many people who have disabilities still live in conflict and especially in developed countries as they face daily discrimination and barriers in education, right to work and health care and other basic survival needs. For example in Yemen and in other North African countries disabled people are still socially labeled as useless and they do not get any fair basic survival needs or opportunity to flourish in order to develop them selves. However, some countries like the United States and in Europe have looked pass that as they conducted a law that gives people with disabilities equal rights and opportunities. In this essay we will dig deeper on what were the causes of the disability rights movement and how did they succeed in making their voices to be heard.
The disability rights movement started in 1817 when a priest and a Yale graduate known as Thomas Hopkins was visiting one of his professors and came across his deaf daughter, he then became aroused on how can one educated deaf children. With the help of his deaf teacher friend he then made history by establishing the very first school of the deaf in America. In addition to that in the early 1819 Louis Braille who accidently became blind while playing with his father’s awl. He then invented a new language for the blind, which is known today as the Braille language (Britannica, Braille, 2016).
The disability rights movement then followed up when the disabled people were denied fair and equal treatment and opportunity just because they were simply different. However, in the early 1940’s a new perspective on disabled people was starting to change and that was when injured militants came back from World War two with different forms of injuries and disabilities. They then found themselves useless and neglected from the society, which then resulted them into forcing the government to provide them with new rehabilitation programs and other job opportunities. The disability rights movement was intertwined and influenced by the civil rights movement, which was a movement to end the discrimination towards people with color and women in order to have equal rights and opportunities to participate fully in the society.(David Braddock’s, DISABILITY, 2002).The civil rights movement fuelled and resulted in the disability rights movement. Adding to that in the 1960’s more than 50 million people with different disabilities and their parents as well as their supporters continued to work on gaining the right for education in public schools, the right for economic power and the right for employment opportunities (Anti defamation league, Disability rights movement, 2007). One of the many causes of the disability rights movement was when 19 young people with different disabilities moved from nursing homes into their own apartments. They could not help but to face that there are many obstacles and inaccessible public buildings, outdoor spaces and public transpiration and many other places were not accessible for them, which made it hard for them to live a normal and an independent life. Therefore a national disability rights organization started which was know as the ADAPT which was led by Wade Blank who was effected by hearing the stories of these nineteen young disabled people and how they were stuck and unable to live independently. Accessible buildings meant to have accessible curb ramps, restrooms, elevators, parking zones and other opportunity for a physical access to public buildings (Center for health and development, 2014). However, in 1973 the rehabilitation act aimed to stop the discrimination in workplaces and education institutions as well as utilizing proper tools and a comfortable work atmosphere for people with disabilities. Ironically president Nixon vetoed section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, which was “aimed at making educational programs and facilities accessible to all students.” (Rehabilitation Act, section 504, 1973). This caused infinite shouting in the disabled community and made them a lot more determined and powerful to protest against that. This aggression was followed by a demonstration that included more than 80 people who sat down in Madison Avenue, which caused traffic that successfully caught the interest of the national news which eventually made the congress to go against president Nixon’s veto which led the pass of the rehabilitation act of 1973 this was an important event for the disability rights movement because equal rights will be provided for people with disabilities and that they were protected by law.( Joshua J. Corrigan, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2010). Therefore, from 1975-1997 the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) emerged. This act aimed and which succeeded to provide proper, free, public and suitable education for people with disability, as it was not allowed for disabled children to go to public schools and to have the equal rights of education. This act was inspired and empowered by the civil rights movement act to