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The Disability Rights Movement

From Charity to Confrontation

Doris Fleischer

Publication Year: 2011

In this updated edition, Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames expand their encyclopedic history of the struggle for disability rights in the United States, to include the past ten years of disability rights activism.The book includes a new chapter on the evolving impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the continuing struggle for cross-disability civil and human rights, and the changing perceptions of disability.

The authors provide a probing analysis of such topics as deinstitutionalization, housing, health care, assisted suicide, employment, education, new technologies, disabled veterans, and disability culture.

Based on interviews with over one hundred activists, The Disability Rights Movement tells a complex and compelling story of an ongoing movement that seeks to create an equitable and diverse society, inclusive of people with disabilities.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. vii-xii

Personal Notes

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Preface to the Updated Edition

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pp. xv-xvii

In reviewing the achievements, as well as the shortcomings, of the disability rights movement in the first decade of the twenty-first century for this updated edition (see Chapter 13), I have relied predominately on the leading voices that have emerged from the movement. Among those voices, the succinctly expressed insights of James Weisman, general...

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. xix-xxi

In THE ANATOMY OF PREJUDICE (1996),1 Elisabeth Young-Bruehl analyzes what she believes to be “the four prejudices that have dominated American life and reflection in the past half-century—anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.”2 No reference is made to disability discrimination. Misrepresented as a health, economic, technical, or...

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pp. xxiii

We would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the following people: Samuel W. Anderson, Adrienne Asch, Michael Auberger, Rims Barber, Sylvia Bassoff, Kim Baxter, Elizabeth Benjamin, Philip Bennett, Marcia Bernstein, Frank Bowe, Mary Lou Breslin, Marca Bristo, Dale Brown, Kelly Buckland, Paul Camacho, Dennis Cannon, Daniel...


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pp. xxv-xxxii

Abbreviations and Acronyms

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pp. xxxiii-xxxv

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1. “Wheelchair Bound” and “The Poster Child”

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pp. 1-13

"HOPE FOR THE CRIPPLED" was the name of a postage stamp issued in 1970, said Judith E. Heumann, current Assistant Secretary of the u.S. Department of Education and quadriplegic wheelchair user, in her...

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2. Seeing by Touch, Hearing by Sign

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pp. 14-32

SINCE BLIND PEOPLE HAD access to spoken language, they needed a tactile alphabet, such as Louis Braille's r829 elegant raised dot method for reading and writing. Following the logic of English grammar and word order, the Braille system...

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3. Deinstitutionalization and Independent Living

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pp. 33-48

THE TREND IN THE late 1950S and early 1960s toward deinstitutionalization allowed people with severe physical disabilities to begin entering the mainstream, bringing a new population to the developing disability rights movement. Nearly all people...

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4. Groundbreaking Disability Rights Legislation: Section 504

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pp. 49-70

ON OCTOBER 26, 1972, and again on March 27, 1973, President Nixon vetoed early versions of what ultimately became the Rehabilitation Act of 1973--induding Sections 50l-504--both times asserting that the legislation was too expensive. He also argued that the act "diverted the program...

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5. The Struggle for Change: In the Streets and in the Courts

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pp. 71-87

THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL rights for people with disabilities took place with less visibility than, but in the same venues as, the battles fought by African Americans--the streets and the courts. Demonstrations were held; lawsuits were filed; new organizations sprung up. While the names associated...

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6. The Americans with Disabilities Act

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pp. 88-109

AT AN APRIL 18, 1997, conference of disability advocates in Uniondale, New York, Joseph Shapiro, author of No Pity: People with Disabilities Forgjng a New Civil Rights Movement,1 indicated that because the ADA had so much support, its passage was not a daunting task. In a meeting with New York City disability rights advocates on...

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7. Access to Jobs and Health Care

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pp. 110-131

UNLIKE OTHER TARGETS OF job discrimination, people with disabilities have an obstacle embedded in the language that defines them. The term "disability" has varying meaning in at least three different contexts: In the Workers' Compensation program "disability means the damages that...

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8. “Not Dead Yet” and Physician-Assisted Suicide

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pp. 132-148

WITH INCREASINGLY SOPHISTICATED technology for life-sustaining treatment, doctors frequently are given the awesome responsibility of determining when a life should end. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed that "society is always attempting to make the physician into a killer--for instance...

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9. Disability and Technology

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pp. 149-169

THE DISABILITY RIGHTS MOVEMENT "is a by-product of the technological revolution," in the words of one commentator.1 "Breakthroughs in medicine, the development of computers that allow the hearing and speech impaired to use telephones...

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10. Disabled Veterans Claim Their Rights

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pp. 170-183

THE ACTIVISM OF DISABLED veterans from World War I to the Gulf War seeking medical services, benefits, education, and jobs impacted the disability rights movement. Because the general public accepted rehabilitation and inclusion into the mainstream for disabled veterans of the two...

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11. Education: Integration in the Least Restrictive Environment

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pp. 184-199

THE FAILURE OF THE states, even as late as the 1960s, to provide many children with disabilities with the educational opportunities they required indicated the necessity for appropriate federal legislation. Two experts in the education of children with disabilities...

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12. Identity and Culture

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pp. 200-215

Lex Frieden, former director of the National Council on Disability, refers to the two "strands" of the disability rights movement that came together in the effort to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.1 The first strand-made up of people with disabilities living independently in the community...

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13. Disability Rights in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 216-255

Although disability rights advocates and organizations gathered in July 2010 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to take a hard look back to determine how this pioneering law as well as other legislation and judicial...


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pp. 257-307


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pp. 309-323

E-ISBN-13: 9781439907450
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439907443

Page Count: 323
Publication Year: 2011