The Disability Programs and Resource Center

Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus


1960 - 1969


The first Paralympic Games, under the auspices of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) are held in Rome, Italy.

Congress passes the Social Security Amendments of 1960, eliminating the restriction that disabled workers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits being aged 50 or older.


The American Council of the Blind is formally organized.

President Kennedy appoints a special President's Panel on Mental Retardation, to investigate the status of people with mental and develop programs and reforms for its improvement.

The American National Standard Institute, Inc. (ANSI) publishes American Standard Specifications for Making Buildings Accessible to, and Usable by, the Physically Handicapped. This landmark document becomes the basis for all subsequent architectural access codes.


The President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped is renamed the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, reflecting its increased interest in employment issues affecting people with cognitive disabilities and mental illness.

Edward V. Roberts becomes the first severely disabled student at the University of California at Berkeley.


President Kennedy, in an address to Congress, calls for a reduction, "over a number of years and by hundreds of thousands, (in the number) of persons confined" to residential institutions, and he asks that methods be found "to retain in and return to the community the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and there to restore and revitalize their lives through better health programs and strengthened educational and rehabilitation services." Though not labeled such at the time, this is a call for deinstitutionalization and increased community services.

Congress passes the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Health Centers Construction Act, authorizing federal grants for the construction of public and private nonprofit community mental health centers.

South Carolina passes the first statewide architectural access code.

John Hessler joins Ed Roberts at the University of California at Berkeley, other disabled students follow. Together they form the Rolling Quads to advocate for greater access on campus and in the surrounding community.


The Civil Rights Act is passed, outlawing discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations and employment, as well as in federally assisted programs. It will become a model for subsequent disability rights legislation.

Robert H. Weitbrecht invents the "acoustic coupler," forerunner of the telephone modem, enabling teletypewriter messages to be sent via standard telephone lines. This invention makes possible the widespread use of teletypewriters for the deaf (TDD's now called TTY's), offering deaf and hard-of-hearing people access to the telephone system.


Medicare and Medicaid are established through passage of the Social Security Amendments of 1965. These programs provide federally subsidized health care to disabled and elderly Americans covered by the Social Security program. The amendments also change the definition of disability under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, from "of long continued and indefinite duration" to "expected to last for not less than 12 months."

Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments of 1965 are passed, authorizing federal governments for the construction of rehabilitation centers, expanding existing vocational rehabilitation programs, and creating the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to Rehabilitation of the Handicapped.

William C. Stokoe, Carl Croneberg, and Dorothy Casterline publish A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, establishing the legitimacy of American Sign Language and beginning the move away from oralism.

The Autism Society of America is founded by parents of children with autism in response to the lack of services, discrimination against children with autism, and the prevailing view of medical "experts" that autism is a result of poor parenting, as opposed to neurological disability.

Congress establishes the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.


Frederick C. Schreiber becomes the executive secretary of the National Association of the Deaf.

President Johnson establishes the President's Committee on Mental Retardation.

Christmas in Purgatory by Burton Blatt and Fred Kaplan, is published, documenting the appalling conditions at state institutions for people with developmental disabilities.


The National Theatre of the Deaf is founded with a grant from the federal Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.


The Architectural Barriers Act is passed, mandating that federally constructed buildings and facilities be accessible to people with physical disabilities. This act is generally considered to be the first ever-federal disability rights legislation.


Niels Erk Bank-Mikkelsen from Denmark and Bengt Nirje from Sweden introduce the concept of normalization to an American audience at a conference sponsored by the President's Committee on Mental Retardation, helping to provide the conceptual framework for deinstitutionalization. Their remarks, and those of others, are published in Changing Patterns in Services for the Mentally Retarded.

Silent News is founded by Julius and Harriet Wiggins as a newspaper for deaf people.


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