The Disability Programs and Resource Center

Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus


1990 - 1996


Altered States of the Arts is founded.

The Wheels of Justice campaign in Washington, D.C., organized by American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT), brings hundreds of disabled people to the nation's capital in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAPT) activists occupy the Capitol rotunda, and are arrested when they refuse to leave.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed by President George Bush on 26 July in a ceremony on the White House lawn witnessed by thousands of disability rights activists. The law is the most sweeping disability rights legislation in history, for the first time bringing full legal citizenship to Americans with disabilities. It mandates that local, state, and federal governments and programs be accessible, that businesses with more than 15 employees make "reasonable accommodations" for disabled workers, that public accommodations such as restaurants and stores make "reasonable modifications" to ensure access for disabled members of the public. The act also mandates access in public transportation, communication, and in other areas of public life.

The Autism National Committee is founded.

The Committee of Ten Thousand is founded to advocate for people with hemophilia, and their family members, who have been infected with HIV/AIDS through tainted blood products.

The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act is passed to help localities cope with the burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic.

With passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT) changes its focus to advocating for personal assistance services and changes its name to American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act is amended and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities; Education Act (IDEA).


Jerry's Orphans stages its first annual picket of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon.


The American Indian Disability Legislation Project is established to collect data on Native American disability rights laws and regulations.

Communication Unbound, by Douglas Biklen, is published, leading to a great increase in the use of Facilitated Communication. The method becomes controversial when it results in accusations of physical and sexual abuse by teachers, caretakers, and family members of people with communication disabilities.

The Glen Ridge case comes to trial in New Jersey, and three men are convicted of sexual assault and conspiracy, and a fourth of conspiracy, for raping a 17-year-old mentally disabled woman. The case highlights the widespread sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities.

Robert Williams becomes commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, the first developmentally disabled person to hold that post.

The final federal appeals court ruling in Holland v. Sacramento City Unified School District affirms the right of disabled children to attend public school classes with non-disabled children. The ruling is a major victory in the ongoing effort to ensure enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Justice for All is founded in Washington, D.C.

When Broke His Head. and Other Tale of Wonder premiers on PBS. The film is, for many, a first time introduction to the concept of disability rights and the disability rights movement.

The American Association of People with Disabilities is founded in Washington, D.C.

The U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Helen L. v. Snider, rules that the continued publicly funded institutionalization of a disabled Pennsylvania woman in a nursing home, when not medically necessary, and where the state of Pennsylvania could offer her the option of home care, is a violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Disability rights advocates hail this ruling as a landmark decision regarding the rights of people in nursing homes to personal assistance services, allowing them to live at home.

Sandra Jensen, a member of People First, is denied a heart-lung transplant by the Stanford University School of Medicine because she has Down Syndrome. After pressure from disability rights activists, administrators there reverse their decision, and in January 1996, Jensen becomes the first person with Down Syndrome to receive a heart-lung transplant.


Congress passes legislation eliminating more than 150,000 disabled children from the Social Security rolls, as well as individuals who are alcohol or drug dependent.

Not Dead Yet is formed by disabled advocates to oppose Jack Kevorkian and the proponents of assisted suicide for people with disabilities. The Supreme Court agrees to hear several right-to-die cases, and disability rights advocates redouble their efforts to prevent a resurgence of "euthanasia" and "mercy killing" as practiced by the Nazis against disabled people during World War II. Of particular concern are calls for the "rationing" of health care to people with severe disabilities and the imposition of "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) orders for disabled people in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.

Sen. Robert Dole becomes the first person with a visible disability since Franklin Roosevelt to run for president of the United States. Unlike Roosevelt, he publicly acknowledges the extent of his disability. He is defeated by incumbent Bill Clinton.

Georgia voters elect disabled candidate Max Cleland to the U.S. Senate.


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