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How Polio Changed Us, Disability Rights
Left photo. Hugh Gallagher, Bob Bartlett and George McGovern standing next to each other
Right photo. Jerry Brown standing in front of desk speaking with Ed Roberts looking on
Left: Hugh Gallagher; his boss, Senator Bob Bartlett; and Senator George McGovern, 1968 Courtesy of Hugh Gallagher and Janine Bertram
Right: Ed Roberts, founder of the independent living movement and a director of rehabilitation services for the State of California, pictured with Governor Jerry Brown in 1975 Courtesy of World Institute on Disability

“In 1968, Hugh Gallagher and Bartlett [Senator Bob Bartlett, D-Alaska] cooked up the Architectural Barriers Act which stated that all buildings ‘designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds’ would be required to have ramps, curb-cuts and access to all facilities. It was their radical view that accessibility was a basic civil right for all.”
—Lorenzo Wilson Milam, 2004

“Before Mom found an opportunity to go down to the grade school office to register me, three members of the school board came to visit us …. ‘It has been brought to my attention that you folks have a son in a wheelchair. It is our duty to inform you he will be unable to attend school….’”
—Don Kirkendall, 1973

Americans with Disabilities Act
Passed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a landmark civil rights legislation that creates broad legal protections for people with disabilitiies.

“On April 5, 1977, disability rights activists occupied federal offices around the United States. They demanded implementation of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act … that mandated ‘No otherwise qualified handicapped individual … shall … be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.’”
—Paul Longmore, 2003

Image of button and bumper sticker
Button and bumper sticker supporting 504
Left photo. President George H.W. Bush signing the ADA with four people looking on in front of a fountain
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Right photo. Broken piece of a curb cut with writing on it
Left: Justin Dart (far right) at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George Bush, 1990 Courtesy of Yoshiko Dart
Right: Piece of street curb broken from a Denver intersection by activists from the independent living center Atlantis Community in protest of the lack of curb cuts, 1980 Courtesy of Atlantis Community, Denver
Image of button with an icon of a person in a wheelchair and a closed fist

Button from Disabled in Action, a cross-disability activist group founded in 1970 in New York City by Judy Heumann Courtesy of Carr Massi

Photo of a button that says I love (represented by a heart symbol) ADA

Button supporting the ADA

 Image of a page from an illustrated handbook
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Ron Mace’s copy of his An Illustrated Handbook of the Handicapped Section of the North Carolina State Building Code, the groundbreaking 1974 book that helped architects visualize and construct access ramps

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    Justin Dart, 1998  
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Smithsonian National Museum of American History main site
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