Rights of the Disabled: Congress Passes Rehabilitation Act
The 1973 Rehabilitation Act, passed by Congress and signed into law on this day, was an important milestone in federal programs for disabled persons. It replaced previous laws in 1954 and 1965. Section 504 of the law was particularly important, expanding the rights of persons with disabilities, greatly expanded grants to the states for vocational rehabilitation, and also expanding federal research and training related to persons with disabilities.
When the Department of Health, Education & Welfare (HEW) failed to issue regulations implementing Section 504, disability rights activists protested with a sit-in on April 5, 1977. HEW issued the regulations three weeks later.
The campaign for the rights of the disabled culminated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA served as the model for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed on March 30, 2007. The U.S. Senate has still not ratified the Convention, however, because of conservative opposition. See December 5, 2012 for a Senate vote on ratification that failed.
Visit the National Disability Rights website: http://www.napas.org/
Learn more: Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (2012)
Visit the ADA website: http://www.ada.gov/
Study a timeline on federal laws and regulations regarding disabled persons: http://www.in.gov/fssa/files/History_and_Regulations.pdf
Learn more at the National Disability Rights Network: http://www.ndrn.org/index.php