100 Years of Disability

Accessibility sign, photo credited to TheTruthAbout on flickr
Accessibility sign, photo credited to TheTruthAbout on flickr

This is INDATA’s 100th blog post!  To celebrate, we’re going to take a look back at the last 100 years and see what advances have been made in history concerning disabilities.

1918 – U.S. military veterans with disabilities gain support from the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.  This act promoted rehabilitation training for honorably discharged soldiers with disabilities.

1919 – Edgar Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children, which would later become known as Easter Seals.

1921 – The American Federation for the Blind was founded.

1929 – First guide dog school established.

1932 – The American Federation for the Blind invented portable braillewriter and the Talking Book machine.

Person using Braille display, photo credited to holisticmonkey on flickr
Person using Braille display, photo credited to holisticmonkey on flickr

1935 – The Home Relief Bureau prevented people with disabilities from obtaining jobs for the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  A protest was led by the League for the Physically Handicapped in New York City, picketing the discrimination of the WPA.  This protest eventually led to the creation of over 1500 jobs.

The Social Security Act was passed, lending funds to people with disabilities.

1936 – Mrs. William Gavin and Mrs. P. R. Mallory began a social program for people with disabilities, which later became known as The Crossroads (which we know today as Easter Seals Crossroads), and was formally organized under the National Society for Crippled Children (Easter Seals).

1940 – The National Federation of thehttps://nfb.org/ Blind was formed, advocating for white cane laws and programs for the blind.

1944 – Howard Rusk began a rehabilitation program for airmen with disabilities, in effect launching the beginning of rehabilitation practices.

1950 – Mary Switzer was appointed the Director of the U.S. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation where she emphasized independent living as a quality of life issue.

1952 – American Federation for the Blind invents communication board for Deaf-Blind called the Tellatouch.

1965 – Social Security Amendments of 1965 added Medicare and Medicaid.

1971 – Center for Independent Living established by Ed Roberts in California.

1973 – The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed, with Section 504 stating:

No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

1975Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed, requiring that all public schools allow equal access to children with disabilities.

1976 – The FCC mandated that Line 21 on TV sets be reserved for Closed Captions.

Wheelchair accessible bus
Wheelchair accessible bus

1977 – First wheelchair accessible bus developed.

1979Assistive Technology Center was formed at Easter Seals Crossroads.

1981 – The Telecommunications for the Disabled Act calls for public places (such as hospitals and police stations) to have accessible phones.

1988 – The Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities was passed authorizing federal funding to state projects designed to facilitate access to assistive technology.

1990 – The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, providing civil rights protection for people with disabilities.  Businesses were called on to make appropriate accommodations, and public places were to provide accessible communication and transportation.

The Education for All Handicapped Children was renamed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

1998 – The Assistive Technology Act was passed, granting states funding for assistive technology.

2000 – President Clinton orders federal agencies to hire 100,000 people with disabilities and increase accommodations for the workplace.

2004 – In accordance with No Child Left Behind Act, IDEA authorized Individual Education Plans for students with disabilities and the requirement of evaluating children with learning disabilities.

2007 – INDATA Project (that’s us!) was started by Easter Seals Crossroads, designed to provide access and awareness of assistive technology solutions in the state of Indiana.

2009 – President Obama proposed a United Nations treaty that promotes universal rights to people with disabilities.


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