People with Disabilities are the Largest Minority Group in the United States, Yet They Feel Invisible

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People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States and yet they feel invisible. Disabled Americans Are Still Asking for True Inclusion. The New York Times reports in recent feature article below.


We’re 20 Percent of America, and We’re Still Invisible

Disabled Americans are asking for true inclusion.

By Judith Heumann and 

Ms. Heumann is a disability rights activist. Mr. Wodatch is a civil rights lawyer.

The March 12, 1990, march to the Capitol that led to the Capitol Crawl and subsequent passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Credit…Tom Olin Collection. Used by permission.

This month as the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act approached, we asked two prominent figures in the disability rights movement, Judy Heumann and John Wodatch, where they thought the United States stood in its quest to secure full rights for people with disabilities.

Mr. Wodatch is a former Department of Justice lawyer and the chief author of the regulations of both the A.D.A. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an anti-discrimination law that was a precursor to the A.D.A. He led the Justice Department office in charge of enforcing the A.D.A. until 2010. Ms. Heumann, an international disability rights activist, was the leader of the “504 sit-in” in San Francisco in 1977, at 25 days the longest nonviolent occupation of a federal building in American history. Ms. Heumann’s role in that protest has been documented in the recently released film “Crip Camp” and her memoir, “Being Heumann.”

On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the A.D.A. was watershed legislation, the culmination of a decades-long campaign of organized protest and activism. It, too, was a victory in the struggle for equality for a group of people who had been systematically denied basic rights and access to public spaces and services. On the 30th anniversary of the law, it’s only natural to want to celebrate. And we should.

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