Disability History

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National Disability Rights Group ADAPT in 1994. Photo by Tom Olin

1. Beyond Affliction is a 4 hour National Public Radio program archived online. It covers how popular culture attitudes about disability came to be, how they have changed, and what kinds of consequences they have had for people with disabilities and their families.

2. The Disability Social History Project is a website that includes timelines and bibliographies about people with disabilities throughout history. There are many articles on there that talk about disability in the United States during the 1900s.

3. Judi Chamberlin was a force behind the psychiatric survivor movement. After she died in 2009, activists celebrated her life and work by creating a 5 minute documentary. It’s captioned and available online

4. Power of the 504 is a short documentary by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. It celebrates the 504 Sit-Ins of 1977. The 504 Sit-In was the largest take over of a government building in US history and it was done by disabled people. You can purchase the audio described and captioned video at for $25. They also have it available on youtube.

5. Deaf President Now Online Gallery tells the story of Deaf President Now, a student-led protest at a Deaf University. DPN was a fight to have a Deaf president. Students shut down the campus, marched to Congress, and rallied national support.

6. ADAPT is a non-violent direct action organization that fights for community living. They were the main force behind the Right to Ride campaign that made transportation accessible to disabled people. ADAPT has played in creating disability history. There is a website that celebrates their 25th anniversary by documenting first-hand accounts of ADAPT activists.

7. Disability Rights Online History Archive is a thorough oral history collection of stories from disability activists. It is run by the university of California – There are over 100 stories. The stories are either documented in video, text, or audio interviews. You can learn a lot about the Independent Living Movement by combing through this collection.

8. Justin Dart Remembered is an article at Ability Magazine. It includes Justin Dart’s obituary, charge, and an article about him. Justin Dart was a big force in mobilizing people around the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

9. No Pity: People with Disability Forging a New Civil Rights Movement is a book by Joe Shapiro that tells the story of the Disability Rights Movement. You can buy it online for $12. Review of the book can be found at goodreads.com:

10. Disability History Legislation: Many youth organizations have been working around the country to pass laws in their state that require schools to teach disability history. Each state is different in what they advocate for and have done. Disabilityhistory.org has information about each one of these states.

11. Cripchick Celebrates Disability History is a blog posy by disability activist Cripchick. It has a lot of information about different famous disabled people of color (information is by the DYP Collective).