What is this piece about?

I was born in 1996, I was also born with a “disability”. This piece means a lot to me because having different challenges with cerebral palsy and using a power wheelchair, I have come to realize the date I was born was really important. 30 years earlier, I could have been in an institution, with no rights, no education, no technology and minimal care. This piece is about the evolution of people with disabilities and includes three parts, the past, present, and future. The past was a very dark side of history where people with disabilities were isolated, ignored, sterilized, put into institutions, and treated unequally from the rest of society. Even when the civil rights era came about in the 1960’s and laws were passed for many other groups of minorities, it was not until about 10 years later in 1973, that the first real law that prohibited discrimination was passed. The 1970s-80s is when people’s voices really started to be heard, and some real changes started to take place. But, it was only in the year 1990 that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a landmark law, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. That leads us into the present day where there are more rights than ever before in history, such as equal employment opportunities and accessible public transportation. Also, there is more equality and inclusion within society. Although everything is getting better as time goes on for individuals, there is still a lot of social injustice that needs to be worked on. For example, there is still discrimination within schools, the workplace, and society itself. In the future, there needs to be total inclusion, equality, and the same rights for everybody no matter their abilities and every person has value! This piece is going to go through each time period where people are ignored from society, with their voices not being heard, and stuck. Over time, the individuals are going to be integrated into society and accepted for who they are. Our hope for the future is inclusion, equality, total acceptance and feelings of self worth.  

Why is this piece/topic important?

The fact the 1 billion people in this world, around 15%, of the population live with a disability, means that, in some way, this will affect everyone at some point in there lifetime, whether it is a parent, child, friend, co-worker or yourself. Believe it or not, it is the world’s largest minority, and we need to make sure everyone has equal opportunities and rights. It is important to understand the history of people who are differently-abled so we can learn from that and start making much needed changes. Also, there needs to be more understanding and empathy for what individuals have to go through. There are so many barriers, both physically and mentally that need to go away. Some of those barriers include language, labels, inaccessibility, discrimination, and attitudes of society. Language has evolved over the years and still needs to continue to change. In the past, people have used horrific words to describe individuals. Also, labels seem to be part of our culture, which can really stereotype or stigmatize groups or individuals. It has gotten better but there is still a long way to go. Accessibility is an issue that people have to face on a daily basis including physical barriers to go to school, work, a store, restaurant, or with transportation. But, it is also access to be able to vote, have good healthcare, get information and services, communication, and get education to name a few. A huge reason why people who are differently-abled are not as equal as everybody else is because of society itself. Sometimes, the hardest thing to overcome is discrimination and attitudes. Trying to change comes from within, and through advocating, educating, giving respect to everyone, knowing every person matters, standing up for what you believe in, is how this will happen.  I am hoping this piece can be a part of this process, and that is why I love AUTS theme of “Empathy”!


Factsheet on Persons with Disabilities







“Willowbrook” (video) (trigger warning)

“Christmas in Purgatory”





President Obama Speaks on the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Local and County Resources



http://www.tri-counties.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=132&Parentid=129&RootId=129 (Rainbow Connection)


Federal and State Resources