disability civil rights

The Fight for 504

The Fight for 504

When I first learned about the 504 sit-in protest that occurred in 1977, it enriched and deepened my pride in being a disabled person. It made me even more honored to be a part of the disability community. It educated me on the struggle for securing our civil rights, and ignited a passion that I have today, to continue to fight for disability justice and equality.

In case you don’t know about what the Fight for 504 is, here is a brief historical recap: In 1973 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was signed into law. The text of Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely on the basis of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” This means no person should be excluded from any program, service, or similar which receives federal funds.

This was the first civil rights law written specifically for the disabled. It is considered a pre-cursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed years later in 1990. But while disabled advocates were cheering 504, business and government leaders weren’t

IDEA: Access to Public Education for Disabled Children

IDEA: Access to Public Education for Disabled Children

I don't remember everything about being five years old, but I do remember kindergarten. I remember story-time, and recess. I remember how much I loved to do coloring and read my first books. I also remember my mom and I having to go to special meetings with the principal and my teacher. Even though I didn't understand everything they were talking about, I understood enough to know these were meetings that other kids didn't have.

When you hear phrases like, "Jody's special" or "Jody needs her own desk, but don't make a big deal about it", or "be careful of Jody at recess, she can't get knocked over by other kids," you hear your name a lot, and realize that must mean something, even though you don't understand exactly what.

Of course I now know what all that was about. I was benefiting from IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. You probably haven't heard of IDEA, but millions of disabled children have had equal and integrated educations thanks to this law. More specifically, it is the most important piece of civil rights legislation for children with disabilities ever passed in this country. It authorizes federal aid to meet the educational needs of children with disabilities and provides due process rights to parents.

You Really Need To Know About ADAPT

You Really Need To Know About ADAPT

Ask someone who ADAPT is and odds are 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.

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.