Appalled at the conditions of Massachusetts’ mental institutions Dix published “Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts” in 1843, listing the horrors of every asylum in the state. She went on to be one of the first to advocate for improved asylum conditions. To read about other advocates and a history of disability from pre-1492 to the present, check out Kim Nielsen’s A Disability History of the United States.
Today jobs in the medical field are among America’s highest paid occupations. Not so in the 19th century. Not only was it a low-paying profession but it often garnered little popular respect (those leeches may have had something to do with it). Things got so desperate for one Victorian doctor that he took to robbing stagecoaches to make ends meet!
Learn more in Marketplace of the Marvelous by Erika Janik.
2014 marks the 185th anniversary of the incorporation of The Perkins School. The first school for the blind in the United States, Perkins’ early students included disability rights pioneers Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.
Kim Nielsen recalls how “Perkins shone as one of Boston’s premier educational institutions the most well-known school for blind students in the United States, and perhaps the world.” To read more about the institution and its activist alumni, check out Nielsen’s Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. Kim Nielsen comments:
“When the ADA was first introduced in Congress in 1988, people with disabilities, advocates, and family members from all over the country shared their stories of discrimination, harassment, and inaccessibility. They also shared their dreams of what a truly accessible democracy could mean. Those with HIV/AIDS shared their stories of how homophobia and ableism often combined in fiercely destructive ways.… The ADA forbids employment, access, housing, and educational discrimination against people with disabilities.”
For more of Nielsen’s narrative, check out A Disability History of the United States.