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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.

This presentation is focused to provide "best practice approaches" which will assist in supporting others in diminishing the causes of anger.


Founded in the maxim "an institution is not a place; it is a state of mind". Tom explains that individuals who have few valued relationships and few things of value are living an "institutional life".


The four supported routine outcomes (facilitating connections, maximizing independence, enhancing self-worth, and producing self-determination) are detailed and their life enhancing effects are reviewed.


Staff will learn 'Best Practice' approaches in transitioning classic day program services to a work oriented service model.


Provides viewers with strategies to master Universal Languages as well as sensitively supporting others who struggle in using words of respect.


Award winning play discusses what it is like to live with a brain injury.


Presents rare archival footage and excerpts from interviews with individuals who once lived in institutions for people with mental retardation.


Presents a riveting view of the institutional experience from the unique role of the parent.


Explores the many types of diversity and the perils of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.


Real people with different physical abilities describe the kinds of service they prefer and offer strategies and techniques designed to help individuals serve customers with disabilities more easily and effectively.

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