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Events Impacting People with Disabilities

Period of Sweeping Change

Americans with Disabilities Act is signed by President George H. W. Bush Video available at:

1989Center for Universal Design founded by Ronald Mace in Raleigh, NC Read more at:

1988 Fair Housing Act amendments prohibit housing discrimination against people with disabilities and families with children, also provide for architectural accessibility of select new housing units and renovation of existing units at renter’s expense Read more at:

1986Air Carrier Access Act passes prohibiting airlines form refusing to serve people simply because they are disabled and from charging disabled passengers more than non-disabled passengers. Additional information found at:

1984Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act mandated that polling place be accessible Additional information at:

1983National Council on the Handicapped calls for Congress to include persons with disabilities in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil and voting rights legislation and regulations

Civil War to World War 2 Period

1861 – 1865 – The American Civil War resulted in 30,000 amputations which brought disability issues to a head in American minds

Before the Civil War

1800s – 1900s – Many people who had disabilities, and who did not live in an institution, joined the circus as a means to earn money. They were known as “freak” shows. It was one of the few means of earning a living available to people who had physical disabilities.

1800s – States throughout America began to build large-scale asylums for people with mental health conditions and other disabilities.