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Lives Worth Living

A movie summary of "Lives Worth Living" with connections to ED338.

on 13 April 2016

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Transcript of Lives Worth Living

Lives Worth Living
Veterans were returning from World War II. Many of them were coming back disabled. This was looked at differently than people being born with a disability. This was because they were heroes. Veterans were placed in hospitals and had the opportunity to go to school and build their lives. They had benefits while those born with a disability didn't. This is how it should be for all people with disabilities.
Ed Roberts, an important person in the disabilities movement, had polio. His mother was a big advocate for him. He was able to go to high school with everyone else but they wouldn't allow him to graduate because he didn't pass physical education. His mother went higher in the school system to get this worked out. He wanted to go to Berkeley and the only way he could go was to be housed in an infirmary instead of a dorm. He believed he could do whatever he wanted to do in spite of what people said to him. The disabled students movement was started in the 1960's by him along with other significantly disabled students who were going to universities who needed more supports to be successful. They wanted to be able to live independently in the community. Independent living would allow Ed, along with others, to choose the people that would work for him, what to eat, what to wear, when to sleep, and when to wake up. This was very different than being in an institution.
State institutions and nursing homes were very overcrowded and this wasn't a safe place for people with disabilities to be. Willowbrook State School was a terrible place. Everyone was on medication and drugs that didn't make people feel like themselves. They had no rights at all and were at the mercy of the untrained aids. The institution smelt bad and it was very dirty. A doctor told Geraldo Rivera so he went to take a look. He decided to close all these institutions and to not try and fix them. When the disability movement first got started it was groups of people. The blind with blind, deaf with deaf, etc. These separate groups ended up coming together to work across the disability centers for independent living. Fred Fay, another important figure, was in downtown DC. He noticed there were only sidewalks with curbs, no ramps. He saw how inaccessible the nation was. Buildings are built with barriers and everyone should have access because they are paying for them. The Architectural Barriers act of 1968 stated: buildings are to be built to be accessible. Now the only way for change is for there to be enforcement of the laws.
The 1980’s new leaders joined the fight for disability rights. Justin Dart could speak to many republican leaders. Justin didn’t experience the same types of discrimination but he learned about it and could speak about it. He understood that we needed to take steps in educating the public and the first step was educating the public of people with disabilities. He went to all 50 states meeting with groups of people with disabilities and then research was done to present to the council on people with disabilities. The main need of people with disabilities during this time was non-discrimination. They knew there needed to be a law to protect the people with disabilities from being discriminated against. People got out of their wheelchairs and sat for their rights for public transportation. This was for people with disabilities to get on and off trains like everyone else and have access to what the rest of the population had access to. People were being arrested for being out in public and speaking their minds.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): 1989, Senator Tom Hawkin stated, disabled citizens deserve the opportunity to have a job, use public transportation, and live a life and have access to the world like everyone else does. The ADA went through one house to be passed but then stalled. The night before the bill was being decided upon volunteers in wheelchairs were asked to crawl up the steps to demand their rights. Senators saw this is how people lived everyday. It had the social impact that needed the push. They didn’t end up passing the ADA so the people with disabilities went to the seat of power in the Rotunda of the Capital. The goal was to spend as much time there as it took to have the ADA signed. People chained their wheelchairs together and the police went crazy. This was the moment congress decided to act on the ADA. Congress opened their doors to all people with disabilities. The ADA was passed and the days of segregation and inequality were over.
So many people came to see the signing of the bill people worked for years to have. Americans with Disabilities Act was the end of discrimination. It was the day people were seen as peers not as people who needed other's help.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Jack Duncan, former counsel on the US House of Representatives, had drafted the house bill. He added in independent living and most severe persons with disabilities. Nixon vetoed the bill so everyone had to ban together as a community to get their message out in public. People were coming together and Nixon was beginning to have problems. He finally signed the legislation. However, three and a half years later, the regulations for the rehabilitation act of 1973 were still unsigned. People with disabilities thought the bill was passed in 1973 but now it was 1977 and there wasn't a change. They had to do something. They targeted the health education and welfare buildings. Secretary Califano was trying to make decisions on passing a law. 504 was trying to be passed which stated any entity receiving money from the federal government may not discriminate against someone based on disability. If the process was dragged on then the rules would change, no one was willing to let that happen. The federal building of San Francisco was taken over by people with disabilities. The day the hearings were being held was emotional because everyone had been working so hard and they were finally getting a hearing. The regulation was signed. It was a leap forward for everyone.
Connections to ED338
This movie brought me back to week one of class, "Foundations of Inclusive Teaching". To start the course we watched videos and saw photos of this time period when disabilities weren't accepted. In the video "It's Our Story" spoke about how disabilities were seen when there weren't laws put into place. People with disabilities had no rights. They weren't allowed access to the public and everyone knew something had to be done. It is every person's right to be accepted and to have access to the rest of the world like any other person.
We had also looked at pictures of Willowbrook. This institution failed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Looking at these pictures is sad and scary to think that this is how people were treated because they had a disability. Luckily this institution was shut down and people with disabilities started to be treated better.
Bronston, W. (2016).
WillowBrook Photo Essay
. The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. Retrieved from: http://mn.gov/mnddc/extra/wbrook/willowbrook.html

Neudel, E. (2011, October 27).
Lives Worth Living
. PBS. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/lives-worth-living/

(2010, July 11).
It's Our Story
. Youtube: It's Our Story. Retrieved From: https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=fWDaRN490BI%26feature=relmfu
My Future
This movie is meaningful to my future as a teacher. Watching this movie shows how far we have come but we also have so much more we can do. It would be so sad if disabilities were still portrayed like this today and thankfully it isn't still like this. There is still exclusion for people with disabilities. So many schools do pull outs or have separate rooms for students with disabilities. I want to use inclusion in my classroom and have an environment where all learners are welcomed. Classrooms that are designated for those with disabilities aren't healthy environments. It's usually a class with blank walls and the students sit in there all day long. I don't want this for my future class and for the future school I work in. This movie will inspire me to bring inclusion into the school and classroom because all students have a place in this world and in the classroom.
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