You Really Need To Know About ADAPT

You Really Need To Know About ADAPT


Ask someone who ADAPT is and odds they won't know. This is really quite a shame. Because ADAPT is one of the strongest and most brave activist organizations that you will ever meet. ADAPT is a grassroots disability rights organization with chapters in 30 states. It uses nonviolent direct action in order to bring attention and awareness to the lack of civil rights the disability community has. In fact, they advocate for millions of people who could never begin to appreciate the personal, physical and financial sacrifices they make in public acts of civil disobedience, wherein many times they are fined, prosecuted and jailed.

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Remember seeing all the news reports last summer of protests in Washington DC prior to the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Many of those disabled men and women were members of ADAPT. Well-organized, educated on the issues, and politically active, ADAPTer's gave faces to the statistics that would have been negatively impacted by a repeal of the ACA.

ADAPT also now practices legislative policy advocacy, grassroots education and mobilization, and individual members may engage in legal advocacy. The main mission for ADAPT over the past several years has been to bring attention to the unjust and discriminatory practice of institutionalizing disabled people. It's "Free Our People" campaign works to bring attention to the public policy and Medicare/Medi-Cal cuts that force disabled people to live in nursing homes rather than in the community. ADAPT's first advocacy issue, however, was transportation.

ADAPT's Access to Public Transportation

In 1983, ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit) was founded by Reverend Wade Blank to advocate for wheelchair-accessible buses. ADAPT held its first protest against the American Public Transit Association on October 23, 1983. During the 1980s, ADAPT became known for blocking buses to draw attention to the need for accessible public transportation.

Wheels of Justice

In March 1990, ADAPT organized a weeklong series of demonstrations in Washington, D.C. to urge lawmakers to pass the ADA. Hundreds of people with disabilities came from all over the country to make their voices heard. 

Demonstrators proclaimed: “The Preamble to the Constitution does not say ‘We the able-bodied people.’ It says, ‘We the People.’” 

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The protest included a March 12 “crawl-up” staged by wheelchair users on the steps of the Capitol building and a takeover of the Capitol rotunda the following day. Like civil rights activists before them, they raised public awareness of the discrimination they faced and the barriers that kept them from fully participating in society. These protests gained widespread attention, providing the momentum disability rights supporters needed to move the legislation through Congress. Four months later, the ADA was signed into law.

For more information about ADAPT or to donate, go to their website at