Without the ADA, we wouldn't have special needs technology

Without the ADA, we wouldn't have special needs technology


"...it is generally agreed, that advocacy as provided by   today’s independent advocacy organisations, evolved from the Citizen Advocacy movement in the  United States and Canada in the mid 1960’s which stemmed from Bengt Nirge, Wolf Wolfensberger’s and John O’Brien’s work on normalisation."  

ref. http://www.advocacyresource.org.uk/History-of-Advocacy


I had been posting about technology for autism for several years when I came across a man whose vision and dedication led to the creation of  The Americans with Disabilities Act.   
I had never before taken time to reflect on the significance of this legislation. Only now, while operating my own website advocating for the use of technology with autism, did I consider its impact.  I soon realized that without the ADA, we wouldn't have much technology to discuss.  because, despite a desperate need for special products and services, the market was small.   After its passage, soaring demand stimulated the rapid growth of a new industry.



Further Reading:

The History of the ADA:  A Movement Perspective
by Arlene Mayerson 1992 in TDREDF online

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, founded in 1979, is a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities.



In the beginning, thousands of people advocated for hundreds of special interest communities.


Advocacy is a political process  by which individuals and groups act to influence decisions, public-policy and resource allocation within political, economic, and social systems and institutions.

 Illustrated by Clay Butler  Published by: PAX Press, a division of Beneficial Designs, Inc., Santa Cruz, California

Illustrated by Clay Butler

Published by: PAX Press, a division of Beneficial Designs, Inc., Santa Cruz, California


In 1946, Judy Fryd, a mother of a child with a learning disability (then referred to as a Mental Handicap), formed The National Association of Parents of Backward Children - later called Mencap).


In 1952, children with cerebral palsy were considered “uneducable” – at best to be pitied, at worst discarded by society.  Four parents, believing that every child should had the right to an education established the a charity, the Spastics Society, now known as Scope,  to fight for the recognition of the human rights of all disabled people.



Disability advocates had worked long and hard to change the entrenched attitudes and practices that have marginalized so many citizens.  Why had so little changed? 

There were so many voices vying for public attention that their influence was seriously diluted.



Bringing everybody together.

During the era of the Civil Rights Movement my new friend became enamored of the Law..smitten.... obsessed. Through his research, he became aware that there were many practices and regulations on the books that excluded physically disabled people from participating in many areas of American life.  

After considerable marination, he concluded that business and government lacked the incentive to change.  He concluded that legislation could make the difference.

At the time he was 11 years old.  



At age 16, he met Ramsey Clark, Attorney General of the United States speaking at a public forum. While shaking hands with Mr. Clark, he brashly proposed the need for civil rights legislation to protect disabled citizens. Much to my friend's surprise, the Attorney General agreed and subsequently introduced him to people with whom he would with he would collaborate behind-the-scenes, quietly setting the groundwork for eventual passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act .



It only took 2 years and 7 months to convince lawmakers of the need for legislation.


What is Lobbying?  Lobbying is a form of advocacy in which legislators are directly approached regarding issues that play a significant role in modern politics.  Lobbying is essential to protect minority interests. But few advocates have the time, money or skills for successful lobbying. 


 All this is fascinating stuff.  I was blown away learning the degree of commitment and effort this required.  We had just concluded a great Google Hangout interview with him but was asked to not share it because my friend required anonymity.  Frustrating.   I believed that without the ADA, we would not have advanced as fast as we did.  There would not have been as much interest in the development of technology benefiting the special needs communities.

I wouldn't have a website blogging on the use of technology for autism.  

How much can I divulge to readers without compromising my friend? 

Hopefully I will be able to post our video interview in the future.  


I will be adding to this blog shortly:

Ten Employment Myths

"Many employers misunderstand the Americans with Disabilities Act and are reluctant to hire people with disabilities because of unfounded myths. This seventeen-minute video responds to concerns expressed by employers, explaining the ADA in common sense terms and dispelling myths about this often overlooked pool of well-qualified employees.



Constructing a shower to ADA building code

Published on Oct 23, 2012

Police response to people with Disabilities