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The first school for children with disabilities in the Western Hemisphere is founded: The American School for the Deaf (Hartford, Connecticut) .
The Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts opens and gets its first students.
The Columbia Institution for Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind was the first college in the world created for people with disabilities. (Later, it was renamed Gallaudet College and later: Gallaudet University).
Eugenics- this was a movement in the United States that prevented people with disabilities from moving to the US, marrying, or having children of their own. Eugenics also allowed for the inhumane treatment of individuals with disabilities.
The New York Public School System began using American Braille in its classes for children who were blind. Also in this year, the first folding wheelchairs were introduced, so people who used wheelchairs could bring their wheelchairs to more places.
Seeing Eye opened the first dog guide school for individuals who were blind in the United States.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) became the first US president with a significant disability to be elected.
X-frame folding wheelchair that could be packed in a car trunk was patented. “E&J” eventually became the largest manufacturer of wheelchairs in the US.
WWII began. In Germany, Hitler ordered “mercy killing” of the sick and disabled, where the Nazis aimed to wipe out anyone they viewed unworthy of living.
In America, a group called “The American Federation of the Physically Handicapped” was a group that wanted to end job discrimination (discrimination against people with disabilities making it harder for them to get jobs)... because of this, the National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week was proposed.
In Germany- Hitler killed about 100,000 people with disabilities and illnesses with his “mercy killing” with gassing, now he moved on to drugs and starvation as a method for killing individuals with disabilities.
Harry Truman, America’s president, liked the idea of “Employ the Handicapped Week”. He decided to create a yearly “National Employ the Handicapped Week” so that it would be something that Americans would do every year.
Advocates rallied for individuals with disabilities to live in community settings instead of in hospitals.
“It’s good business to hire the handicapped.” Movie trailers, billboards, and ads for both radio and TV were used to help spread this slogan to the public from the President Truman’s Committee on “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”. The focus of these ads was on individuals with disabilities’ strengths and abilities.
The University of Illinois at Galesburg created a disabled students program with an independent living center for students with disabilities.
The first wheelchair basketball tournament was held in Galesburg, Illinois.
The Institution of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center was opened by Howard Rusk. Work on innovations like an electric typewriter, mouth sticks, and better prosthetics for individuals with disabilities were studied here. People with disabilities were also employed here as part of the research staff.
Brown v. Board of Education: The US Supreme Court ruled that having separate schools for black and white children was unequal. This was a major inspiration to the disability rights movement.
The first National Wheelchair Games in the US were held in New York.
“Rehabilitation Gazette”- a voice for disability rights, individuals with disabilities could share their experiences with others to inform and educate the general public.
“American Standard Specifications for Making Buildings Accessible to, and Usable by, the Physically Handicapped”- a document outlining architectural access codes in the US.
The Civil Rights Act is passed. Discrimination is not allowed on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and creed (disability and gender were added at a later time). During this year, the “acoustic coupler” was invented- this invention allowed for typed messages to be sent over phone lines so that people who were hard of hearing, or who were deaf could receive phone messages!
The National Theatre of the Deaf was founded.
People with disabilities were no longer to be locked away in institutions without treatment or education. Also in this year, in Boston, the Caption Center was founded- it began putting captions on TV programs for deaf viewers- one of the first ones was The French Chef starring Julia Child.
The first Center for Independent Living was founded in Berkeley, California.
The first handicapped parking stickers were introduced in Washington, DC. Also in this year, “curb cuts” were authorized to make sidewalks accessible for wheelchairs.
The first US National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament and the first National Wheelchair Marathon were held.
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed- children with disabilities have right to go to a public school and receive education with their peers.
Disability rights activists in Denver held a sit-in demonstration to protest inaccessibility of Denver’s public transit system. The demonstration blocked many Denver busses that day. The Denver Transit Authority (bus system) was forced to purchase busses with wheelchair lifts so that people with physical disabilities could access the busses.
The International Year of Disabled Persons- governments were encouraged to promote programs that integrated individuals with disabilities into society. Also in this year, the Telecommunications for the Disabled Act made it so that telephone access for deaf and hard-of-hearing people at important public places (hospitals, police stations, coin-operated phones) were hearing aid-compatible.
Several groups were still fighting the lack of accessible public transportation.
The first athlete in a wheelchair, George Murray, to be featured on the Wheaties cereal box.
The Air Carrier Access Act was passed. This Act meant that airlines could no longer refuse to serve people because they were disabled, and they could not charge them more for airfare than non-disabled travelers.
Students at Gallaudet University protest and organize for the “Deaf President Now”, and the university gets its first deaf president (similar to a principal, but for a college).
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by President George Bush. The law stated that access would be supplied for disabled members of the public to public spaces such as stores or restaurants and public transportation.
The first ever Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago, among other communities around the US.
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