The Torch for Disability Rights
When the process of deinstitutionalization began in the 1960’s, some people with significant disabilities were released from inevitable life sentences in nursing homes and other institutions, which created for the first time in history an opportunity, an imperative, for people with disabilities to live free and independent lives. From this, a community and a culture with history, values, and an objective were born. Our first taste of emancipation came amidst massive civil rights movements nationally and abroad. Leaders of the disability community began to realize that our human rights and civil liberties would come only as we fought for them. With most state-run institutions closed, people with significant disabilities became more visible, and more audible, too. But society’s unwelcoming attitude did not change. The private medical industry quickly appropriated the responsibilities of formerly state-run institutions.