On this day of remembrance for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I spent the time assembling the Resources and Links webpage. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress. Once completed, this will serve as a one stop shop for all of the community and VA websites, phone numbers, and addresses. This might be a rather superficial way to spend today, but education stands as one of the pillars for successful advocacy campaigns.
One only knows what they know, while education serves to illuminate that which we do not know. It remains my hope that establishing this website and compiling a full list of information will enable at least one person to learn more about the greater world of blindness and the tools available.
Is there a connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Disability one? Simple answer is yes. While both movements slowly built up steam throughout the 20th century, the Civil Rights Movement achieved the first set of meaningful changes in society and legislation. Most of the history books zoom in on the activities of the 1950’s to 1970’s and the number of upheavals and societal change.
For the disability movement, we started to show success at first with JFK’s Community Mental Health Act of 1963. However, our first landmark victory occurred during the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Like most governmental policy shifts, it takes another piece of legislation to enforce it. In this case, the implementation of Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1977 ensured governmental assistance.
With these two measures in place, many believed that nothing else would be necessary to ensure equal access. This feeling of complacency spreads rather quickly amongst society after a landmark piece of legislation is introduced or action that raises awareness. MLK fought against this throughout his advocacy campaigns, which is why he relentlessly pursued his dream.
We in the disability community preformed a similar action during the entire 1980’s. During this time, President Reagan threatened to deconstruct much of what little gains towards universal access that arose in the 1970’s. However, an unlikely friendship developed between then Vice President George Bush and Justin Dart, that would change the landscape for the disability community. This bond steered the path for the acceptance and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Today, we have seen many of these different movements either fuse together or lend mutual support. Advocates must do this to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten. For those that work with individuals, we continuously strive to educate those who are just entering into these communities on the resources, services, and assistance out there.
So please, take the time to look over the Resources and Links page, and place any recommendations or edits in the comment field in this blog.