Disability Rights

Disability Rights: 1978

Disability Law Resource Center founded by Bob Funk as a project of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living to assist people with disabilities.

Lynn Thompson, a quadriplegic woman with muscular dystrophy, commits suicide after the Social Security Administration tells her it will withhold her benefits and cut her off Medi-Cal health coverage because she took a part-time job.

Disability Rights: 1979

Due to lobbying by disability rights activists and parents of students with disabilities, the federal government withholds $72 million in funding to California until the state changes its policies on the provision of therapy for students with disabilities and streamlines its complaint process.

Landmark settlement reached in Jamison v. Department of Health. Patients voluntarily admitted to California public and private mental hospitals have the right to learn about the side-effects of psychotropic drugs and to refuse them. Four years later, 

U.S. Supreme Court issues its first decision on Section 504 (the first federal civil rights law covering people with disabilities), Southeastern Community College v. Davis upholding a North Carolina college’s rejection of a deaf woman from its nursing program. In response, Disability Law Resource Center (DLRC) is swamped with calls from all over the country. DLRC becomes an independent organization, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF).

Disability Rights: 1980

DREDF hosts meeting in San Francisco with national civil rights leaders and former government officials to educate them about disability as a civil rights issue and to learn from them about legislative and legal advocacy and political organizing.

Disability Rights: 1982

In American National Insurance Company v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission, the California Supreme Court rules that hypertension is a disability, thereby defining “disability” broadly for legal protection.

Disability Rights: 1986

Congress passes the Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act, allowing people with disabilities to work and still receive government assistance.

Disability Rights: 1988

To protest a Social Security decision to cut off critical and necessary assistance if he accepts royalties for an academic book he wrote, scholar and activist Paul Longmore burns a copy his book in front of the Los Angeles federal building. The Social Security Administration ultimately decides that authors with disabilities can accept book royalties and still receive government assistance.

Disability Rights: 1990

President George H.W. Bush signs the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) into law.

Disability Rights: 1994

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling in Sacramento City Unified School District v. Rachel H. that children with disabilities have the right to be educated in integrated classes and with supplementary aids and services.

Disability Rights: 1995

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Dr. Doe v. Attorney General of the United States that people with AIDS are protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Disability Rights: 1999

U.S. Supreme Court rules in a series of cases that the ADA does not protect people whose disabilities can be alleviated through prosthetics, medication, or aids, thereby denying ADA protection to people with amputations, cancer, epilepsy, insulin-dependent diabetes, bipolar disorder, and heart conditions.
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