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Chapter 3. Accessibility in Law and Poli... > The Disability Rights Movement in th...

The Disability Rights Movement in the United States

On July 6, 2000, the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institute opened an exhibit called “The Disability Rights Movement.” Launched in conjunction with other national events commemorating the tenth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “the disability rights movement exhibition examined the history of activism by people with disabilities, and by their friends and families, to secure the civil rights guaranteed to all Americans,” said exhibition curator Katherine Ott [press release].

Of particular note was the fact that the exhibit was symbolically located next to the Greensboro lunch-counter exhibit, which signifies a major milestone of the African-American civil rights movement. As they strive for equality, inclusion in public affairs, and sometimes the right simply to live, members of both groups have experienced the results of stereotyping by society. As we examine the legal history of disability legislation in this chapter, we will do so in the context of the social guarantees of full participation inherent in a democratic system.


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