The Disability Rights Movement: from charity to confrontation

  • Published 2002


This is a fascinating book, meticulously researched and comprehensively covering all aspects of disability rights issues and how disabled people have engaged in the struggle for rights in the USA. I found it very difŽ cult to put down and frequently re-dipped into its pages for information. However, it took me some time to recover from the shock of discovering that, apparently, the disability rights movement has only happened in the USA. Once you have grasped that there is no allusion to any activity anywhere else in the world—with the implication that it is only in the United States that anything has ever happened, and that only attitudes and events in the USA impact on disability rights—then it is well worth reading this book. It becomes very clear how similar experiences are across cultures and that, despite dissimilar environments, Ž nancial status and opportunities, the barriers to inclusion are the same and the way disabled people have come together, reacted to each other and involved themselves in the great struggle have a unifying commonality. Because of the depth and analysis of the research, that it is only focused in the USA does not detract from what this book has to tell us. It just would have added to its importance if it had recognised that what was happening in the USA was part of a world-wide movement and that events in other countries could have an impact on the whole disability rights movement. The authors, who are sisters, academics and one of whom is a disabled person, have really looked in depth at images of disability, the impacts of services, beneŽ ts, technology, policies and legislation, and how the activities of disabled people and their organisations have effected change. They have also been refreshingly balanced and honest in their reporting, giving a clear picture of problems that have arisen within the disability movement through different organisational approaches or through con icts of interest between disabled individuals. And they have done this without in any way being detrimental to the overall thrust of the movement for rights. The book starts with a chapter on ‘Wheelchair Bound’ and ‘the Poster Child’, and gives an interesting analysis of F. D. Roosevelt’s innovative support of what we would now call independent living, while at the same time ensuring that no visual images of his impairment were made public. The fact that he had polio and did all that he could to disguise that he could not walk is well documented, but it is less well known that he started an innovative rehabilitation centre dedicated to ensuring that

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{ZAMES2002TheDR, title={The Disability Rights Movement: from charity to confrontation}, author={DORIS ZAMES}, year={2002} }