handicapped, differently-abled, disabled, special... no matter what label gets assigned to a person different than the general population, it cannot capture the full picture.
Learning to develop skills to function in a society that is often insensitive to special needs takes strength, patience and perseverance that the "abled" cannot imagine.
In the US, up until the 1960's, the disabled were widely thought of (if at all) as unfortunate victims of circumstance -- who were certainly worthy of dependent caretaking -- but only outside the public view. Out of this frustration, the disability rights movement was born.
In 1977, protesters assembled for the longest sit-in of any federal office at the Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) department in San Francisco.
Fought mainly on the local and state level with boycotts, sit-ins and other protests, the growing and vocal demand for equal rights was finally addressed by Congress which enacted the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
The legislation was sweeping in scope, and for the first time in US history provided for equal employment opportunities, and ensured access to schools, businesses and other public buildings.
Travel for the disabled was another major barrier that was finally toppled with new rules enacted for easier entry into airports, train stations, and bus depots. In addition, the law provided for communications devices for the hearing impaired and signs in braille for the blind.
While the battle for equal rights continues today, the problems faced by the disabled were spotlighted internationally with the first World Report on Disability published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011.
Elsewhere around the Web, learn more about the issues at top sites offering more information as well as emotional and practical support for the disabled, blind, and hearing impaired.
United States Department of Labor - Disability Resources - Check out the U.S. government's mammoth resource
to the topic including links to health information and facts
on kids and teen with disabilities, occupational health and
safety, health care coverage and benefits, state and local
resources, and lots more.
Information and Resources
- Here's the motherlode of resources to related newsletters, books and
online magazines, special needs clothing, computer accessibility
products, with resources to mobility, travel and transportation,
jobs and training, caregiver information and lots more.
Ask JAN - Join the Job Accommodation Network and get answers to questions on employment or anything else to do with the American Disabilities Act.
Council of the Blind - Easy to use layout and a depth
of resources such as job listings, transcription services,
pedestrian issues, guide dogs and more.