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Advocacy & Awareness
Disability advocates concerned with disability rights were relieved to see the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law in July 1990.  At the signing when President Bush said, ‘Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down’ many Americans were still ignorant about disability awareness and had no idea the impact the law would have.  Of course, professionals like those working in mental health advocacy, or teachers involved in special education advocacy knew the importance of the new disability law.  They also knew the walls of exclusion would not “come tumbling down” with the stroke of a pen.

Disabilities advocacy groups realized the law would be a powerful tool for inclusion but to achieve its full effect everyone had to understand the human side of the law and advocacy education through disabilities awareness would be necessary.  Common respect, courtesy and eliminating the awkwardness people experienced interacting with a person who has a disability would be the goal.  Although the law did not mandate disability sensitivity training, people with a disability knew the importance of disability etiquette.  They understood that the need was great and that teaching disability awareness was not going to be an easy task.  Hence, awareness training became the mission for the next two decades for many professionals and advocates alike.

Soon there were disability awareness resources being offered by disability advocacy groups from coast to coast.  Initially there were disability awareness videos that were more general relating to both disability advocate teaching and disability sensitivity training.  Soon after, specialty subjects such as developmental disability awareness, disability awareness for children, learning disability awareness, deafness awareness, and special needs awareness became more focused within these programs.

Twenty years after the signing, advocacy for people with disabilities has not only the Americans with Disabilities Act as its foundation, but a tremendous arsenal of other tools as well.  These include videos, pamphlets, seminars, books, and web sites that facilitate disability advocacy training and beyond.  The law and all of the subsequent training materials teach two of the basic needs of each of us: courtesy and respect.

Guides you through the creation of your own Disability Evacuation Plan, addressing issues that can mean the difference between life and death.

Takes a fresh look at what it means to be disabled in America in over 800 video and still images.

Based on a workshop offered by Peter Leidy and is designed as a discussion starter for providing or coordinating direct support.

Once institutionalized for 33 years inside one of Connecticut's institutions for people with developmental disabilities, Alfredo Calabrese, the main character of the award-winning film Fred's Story, takes five traveling companions on a mysterious mission to Rome and to a magical, troubling, and ironic moment in Fred's past.

A charming older gentleman tells about the forty years he spent inside Mansfield Training School.

Specific, concrete strategies for promoting and strengthening self-advocacy.

Looks at our beliefs about disability through the lens of assistive technology.

Use this new training program in any business or organization to teach staff how to interact and relate to people with disabilities.

Business owners discuss the financial benefits of providing physical and program access to people with disabilities.

Educational and social inclusion of youth with disabilities.

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