In 1817, the American School for Deaf was founded in Hartford Connecticut. This was the first school for disabled children in the Western Hemisphere. Although this was not the beginning of the Disability Rights Movement, it was a start to society, making it possible for people to realize that there were those with disabilities out there in the world and something had to be done. The Disability Rights Movement fought for equal access, opportunity, consideration, and basic human respect along with dignity for those born blind, deaf, or anyone with other forms of physical or mental disability.
The purpose of social movements is to provide social change regarding a specific issue in which a particular group of people or organization focuses on. Many people believe that the movement began in the 1990’s because that is when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed but they are mistaken. The Disability Rights Movement began in the middle of the 19th century and it gained a lot of knowledge around that time because after the Civil War, many people returned with disabilities and this made the disabled visible into the public arena.
The Resource Mobilization Theory is one of the best theories that can be used to explain how the movement acquires and uses resources along with how important these resources are to the movement’s success. Most states in the US have their own website with information on the Disability Rights and resources that can be used to help the disabled. I used a journal, article, encyclopedia, and internet sources to help guide me with my research. The main argument that I am supporting is that people with disabilities should be able to live freely, openly and without pity and they should be accommodated without any restrictions or limitations.
This is called Inclusion and it has only just begun to take place in our society today. The Resource Mobilization Theory is an important theory in the study of Social Movements. This theory began in the 1970’s and it has two main points. The first one is the members of the social movement are pushed to gather resources for the movement. The resources can include anything from money, knowledge, media, props, witnesses, labor, solidarity, and support from others whether they are internal or external. Social movements need hese resources in order to be effective because the more resources used, the more social change is promoted and generated. The second point is for the members of the social movement to push people towards accomplishing the goals of that movement. The main argument of the theory is that social movements form when individuals like us grieve regarding a certain issue, therefore gathering sufficient resources to take action. The form of resources help shape the activity of the movement. Social Movements shift public opinion, influence the media, affect policy, and they become co-opted into the state when they are passed as an act or a law.
Critics of this theory argue that resources are stressed too much and some movements are effective without certain resources and just the movements’ time, labor, and members alone. The critics of this theory make a valid point but I do believe that without resources for a movement, organization is difficult to occur and organization in a social movement is crucial for the movement to succeed. Social movements become a group culture that creates social order. Social order is a concept that refers to all those facts and society that remain constant over time.
People with disabilities have had to fight a tough battle against centuries of biased opinions and assumptions. Along with those biased thoughts, they have fought harmful stereotypes and fears. Just like the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement, the Disability Movement oppressed minorities and left the disabled people in a severe state of suffrage. In the 1800’s, people with disabilities were seen as unfortunate tragic pitiful individuals who were not fit to do anything in society except to serve as objects of entertainment. People with disabilities were also forced to enter institutions and asylums.
Society hid people with disabilities from a mean, fearful, and biased world. This continued until the Civil War and World War I when our veterans returned in a disabled state expecting the US government to provide some sort of help or rehabilitation in exchange for their service in the nation. Although President Roosevelt was the first president with a disability to take office was a great advocate for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, the nation was still operated under the assumption that being disabled was and abnormal condition and needed to be medically cured.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s, World War II veterans started placing pressure on the government for rehabilitation for their disabilities. The veterans made it more visible to a country filled with thankful citizens who were concerned about the well-being of the men who sacrificed their lives for their country. By the 1960’s, the civil rights movement began to take place and disabled citizens saw this as an opportunity to join forces along with the minority groups to demand equal treatment, equal access, and equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
The Disability Rights Movement just like the others faced negative attitudes and stereotypes. In the 1970’s, disability rights activists lobbied congress and marched on Washington to include civil rights language for people with disabilities into the 1972 Rehabilitation Act and in 1973 the act was passed and for the first time in history, the civil rights of the people with disabilities were protected by law. This act provided equal opportunity for employment within the federal government and federal funded programs without discrimination on the basis of both physical and mental disabilities.
In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed to guarantee equal access to public education for children with disabilities. After decades of campaigning and lobbying, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and ensured equal treatment and equal access of people with disabilities to employment opportunities and public accommodations. It served to prohibit discrimination when it came to employment, services given by state or local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, and telecommunication services.
This act that was passed was the main aspect in the Disability Rights movement that made it possible for change to take place. The Resource Mobilization Theory is a great way to show how the organization and its members used their resources in order to succeed with the movement. For much of its history, the Disability Rights Movement did not have organizational members meaning resources had to have taken place. The Rehabilitation Act of1973 had an advantage because it was already in the government. The resource used in the Disability Rights movement was the government and our veterans.
This was the commencement to the whole movement and this is what gave it a head start. Today, we have so many resources that are advocating Disability Rights especially in Florida. The Disability Rights Florida has an on-going website that shares programs and resources to anyone and everyone. Disability Rights Florida is 100% funded by the Administration for Children and Families, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Health and Resources Administration, and the Social Security Administration. Disability Rights Florida has its goals and objectives for the current year.
The website has five goals. Abuse and Neglect, Individual Rights, Community Integration, Education, and Employment. It touches base on each of these goals and goes more in depth about what they entail. On September 21st 2012, the Disability Rights of Florida’s Board of Directors adopted a strategic long range plan for the period 2013-2017 that they want to accomplish and it can be found on the site. There are 9 different colleges in Florida that offer basic transition programs alone for adults with developmental disabilities.
Almost all of the colleges in Florida have an office for students with disabilities. There are different meetings and groups the disabled can go to for support. There are scholarships provided for students with disabilities as well. With our technology advancing each and every day, devices are being made to make it easier and possible for people with disabilities to lead a normal life and abide to the “norms” of society. The website provides daily news on information pertaining to disability rights.
Each disability has its own links that provide more information on where to go and what to do in certain situations. Videos, Audio files, webinars, and trainings are provided for the disabled as well. Disability topics can be viewed on the website as well. If you have a child, parent, family member, or even a friend who is disabled and you want more information on any aspect of the topic, this is the site to go to. There are many different projects going on every day to help solve any issues that the disabled might be having.
The site also provides job openings, transportation services, career options, and much more to make it easier on the disabled. Resource Mobilization was used back when the movement was progressing and is still used very heavily today. I am very glad to say that my findings conform to my hypothesis. In conclusion, the Disability Rights Movement allowed me to see that the movement began with just our veterans but then later on expanded to all of our disabled people in our society. The information I found about the movement and the theory I chose validate my findings and research.
People with disabilities still face a lot of prejudice, discriminatory, and biased challenges today and the promises of the ADA has yet to be realized by everyone but there was a fight, and we won that fight. What people fail to realize is that one way or another, we ourselves will end up being disabled as we get older so abusing, neglecting, and exploiting those who are going through this process right now is unacceptable. The Disability Rights Movement will continue to make great progress towards Americans with disabilities.
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