Cover image for The disability rights movement : from charity to confrontation
The disability rights movement : from charity to confrontation
Fleischer, Doris Zames.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : Temple University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxix, 278 pages ; 26 cm
1. "Wheelchair bound" and "the poster child" -- 2. Seeing by touch, hearing by sign -- 3. Deinstitutionalization and independent living -- 4. Groundbreaking disability rights legislation : section 504 -- 5. The struggle for change : in the streets and in the courts -- 6. The American with Disabilities Act -- 7. Access to jobs and health care -- 8. Not dead yet" and physician-assisted suicide -- 9. Disability and technology -- 10. Disabled veterans claim their rights -- 11. Education : integration in the least restrictive environment -- 12. Identity and culture.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV1553 .F58 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Based on interviews with almost a hundred activists, this book provides a detailed history of the struggle for disability rights in the United States. It is a complex story of shifts in consciousness and shifts in policy, of changing focuses on particular disabilities such as blindness, deafness, polio, quadriplegia, psychiatric and developmental disabilities, chronic conditions (for example, cancer and heart disease), and AIDS, and of activism and policymaking across disabilities.

Referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act as "every American's insurance policy," the authors recount the genesis of this civil rights approach to disability, from the almost forgotten disability activism of the 1930s to the independent living movement of the 1970s to the call for disability pride of the 1990s. Like other civil rights struggles, the disability rights movement took place in the streets and in the courts as activists fought for change in the schools, the workplace, and in the legal system. They continue to fight for effective access to the necessities of everyday life -- to telephones, buses, planes, public buildings, restaurants, and toilets.

The history of disability rights mirrors the history of the country. Both World Wars sparked changes in disability policy and changes in medical technology as veterans without without limbs and with other disabilities return home. The empowerment of people with disabilities has become another chapter in the struggles over identity politics that began in the 1960s. Today, with the expanding ability of people with disabilities to enter the workforce, and a growing elderly population increasingly significant at a time when HMOs are trying to contain healthcare expenditures.

Author Notes

Doris Z. Fleischer has been a member of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology since 1988.

Frieda Zames, Associate Professor of Mathematics Emeritus at New Jersey Institute of Technology, has been a disability rights activist for over twenty years. Both sisters live in New York City.