National Disabilities Awareness Month Calendar
On February 26, 1987, President Ronal Reagan signed 5613, declaring March to be National Disabilities Awareness Month.
The month serves to “increase public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developmental disabilities are defined as impairments in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas.
Americans with disabilities are a group of approximately 40.7 million people today, many of whom lead self-affirming lives and who define themselves according to their personhood above their disability.
Since the mid 1900’s people with disabilities have pushed for the recognition of disabilities as an aspect of identity rather than a sole-defining feature.
The marginalization of people with disabilities began to erode during WWI when veterans with disabilities began demanding that the US Government provide rehabilitation fin exchange for their services.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president with a disability.
The fight for disability rights has undergone a similar pattern to many other civil rights movements where negative attitudes and stereotypes are challenged and self-determination of a minority community is lobbied for.
In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act, which – for the first time - protected the civil rights on people with disabilities by law, was passed.
In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed to guarantee equal access to public education for children with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 after decades of campaigning and lobbying. This law ensured the equal treatment and access of people with disabilities to employment opportunities and to public accommodations.