Living History Project

Workshop on the History and Objectives of the Disability Movements – Dr. Paul Longmore

Learning Objectives

This one-day workshop will distill the broad and varied history and objectives of the Disability Movements. The assigned readings and brief introductory lectures will convey essential facts about the objectives and ideas of that movement and its social, political, and policy achievements. But this workshop will not be a one-way process in which the presenter shovels information and ideas into the participants’ heads. Most of the workshop will be devoted to discussion of the assigned readings. More to the point, the discussion will critically examine the ideas, goals and accomplishments of the Disability Movements and will consider critiques of them from within and outside the disability community. Participants should come prepared to discuss the questions outlined below.

10:00 – Noon. The Concept of Equal Access

What is “disability”? How has “disability” been defined in different historical eras? What has it meant to be “disabled” in the 20th century? How and why did disability movements for social and political change develop? What have been the key organizations? Who have been the major national and local leaders? How have various disability groups both combined and competed with one another politically? What are the major acts of legislation that have defined the rights of disabled Americans? What are “equal access” and “universal design”? How do these concepts depart from previous American ideas about civil rights and equality? Are “equality” and “accommodations” incompatible objectives? Is it contradictory for disabled people to demand both civil rights and specialized services?


Michael Ervin, “The 25-Day Siege That Brought Us 504,” Mainstream.

Laura Hershey, “Economic Literacy and Disability Rights,” Disability Studies Quarterly.

Fred Krueger, “Transportation: Organization is the Key,” Mainstream.
Mary Johnson, “Not the Type to Sue,” Disability Rag.
Paul K. Longmore, “Screening Stereotypes,” Social Policy.
Julie Reiskin, “Crip Girls Go to the Movies,” Disability Rag.
Joseph Shapiro, No Pity, 74-142.
“Americans with Disabilities Act Summary”
“Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements Fact Sheet”
Noon – 1:00pm. Lunch

1:00 – 2:30pm. The Philosophy of Independent Living

What is Independent Living? How did the Independent Living Movement originate and develop? How have public policies and services supported or hindered Independent Living? What are the current policy issues in Independent Living? What is “MiCASA”? What are: “consumer control,” “personal assistance services,” “self-advocacy”?


Carol J. Gill, “Who Gets the Profits?” Mainstream.

Paul K. Longmore, “The Strange Death of David Rivlin,” Western Journal of Medicine.

Joseph Shapiro, No Pity, 41-73, 184-210.
Lynn Williamson, “Breaking Free: The Story of a Woman Who Found Independence,” Disability Rag.
Information on MiCASA “The Philosophy of Independent Living”

2:30 – 4:00pm. The Creation of Disability Community and Culture

Is “disability” simply or mainly a medical condition? Do people with disabilities have a common social experience? Do they share a group identity? Do they constitute a community or communities? Do they hold a common set of values? What might those disability values be?


Carol J. Gill, “Disability Culture,” Disability Rag.
Paul K. Longmore, “The Second Phase: From Disability Rights to Disability Culture,” Disability Rag.
Cheryl Marie Wade, “Creating A Disability Aesthetic In the Arts,” Disability Rag; “I’m The Woman With Juice”; “SASSY GIRL: Memories of a Poster Child Gone Awry.”