Disability Social History Project

Serendipity

Did You Know That....

Helen Keller was a Socialist?

Disabled people were the first to be exterminated in Nazi Germany?

That disabled activists won a significant legislative victory after holding the longest sit-in at a federal building?

History of the Word "Handicapped"

From Snopes Urban Legend Reference
Claim: The word handicap came from 'cap in hand' and referred to the physically disabled's need to subsist as beggars in times past.
Status: False.
The true history of the word.


2 Sign-Language Tribes Found in Remote Area

From the San Francisco Chronicle
Jakarta - Indonesian officials have found two new tribes in the remote Irian Jaya province who communicate using sign language, the Antara news agency reported yesterday. The report from the provincial capital Jayapura said that field officers of the social affairs office had recently discovered the two nomadic tribes living near the Mamberamo river area, about 2,400 miles east of Jakarta.


Kautilya - India - 4th Century

Kautilya, who was probably chief minister of Chandragupta Maurya in India in the 4th century BC, and may have been physically disabled (his name can suggest this), recorded one of the earliest laws against discriminatory language, but also against irony in the use of euphemisms:
"Among abusive expressions relating to the body, habits, learning, occupation, or nationalities, that of calling a deformed man by his right name, such as "the blind," "the lame," etc., shall be punished with a fine of 3 panas. If the blind, the lame, etc., are insulted with such ironical expressions as "a man of beautiful eyes," "a man of beautiful teeth," etc., the fine shall be 12 panas. Likewise when a person is taunted for leprosy, lunacy, impotency and the like. Abusive expressions in general, no matter whether true, false, or reverse with reference to the abused, shall be punished with fines ranging above 12 panas, in the case of persons of equal rank." (Kautilya, 3.18; transl. Shamasastry, 1923, p.236).


Happy Dwarfs Once Lived in Fiji, Researcher Says

Suva, Fiji
A Fijian researcher says that Fiji was populated by a race of cheerful, mountain-dwelling dwarfs before the arrival of the Melanesians, who are generally regarded as the South Pacific nation's first settlers. According to Aminio Qalovaki, who has released his theory in a report after 34 years of research, the tiny, Negroid tribes "had always lived in Fiji."
"They were the true natives of Fiji, and they lived in caves and survived on wild fruits, animals, birds and reptiles," Qalovaki told the Daily Post newspaper. "The way they talked and acted made people laugh, and they loved sports." When the Melanesians arrived from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, about 3,500 years ago, they assimilated easily with the dwarfs, said Qalovaki, a former government geologist and researcher.