1920 June 2

President Wilson Signs Smith-Fess Act; Early Disability Rights Victory


In one of the earliest steps toward providing full services and rights for people with disabilities, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act, which provided vocational rehabilitation services for persons with physical disabilities.

The struggle for the rights of persons with disabilities reached a major milestone in the U.S. with passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. Seventeen years later, on March 30, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was modeled after the ADA. Nonetheless, because of opposition from conservative Republicans, the U.S. has still not ratified the UN Convention.

Read the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml

Learn more: Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (2012)

Learn more at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund: http://dredf.org/

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