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Disability Rights History: A Self-Guided Tour Key dates and topics to know to put disability workforce barriers into context

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1 minute read

The evolution of disability rights and access to education, employment and civil rights began in the 1800s. 

In preparation for the April episode of “Flatland in Focus” airing Thursday on Kansas City PBS, we compiled resources from disability leaders, advocates, lawyers and educators marking key moments in history.

Throughout history, advocates of disability rights, education and employment often point out, disability issues overlap with other issues such as civil rights and Social Security. These intersections underscore just how intertwined discrimination and inequities are across race, ability and socioeconomic status.  

The slideshow below offers a self-guided tour through key moments and laws in history that helps contextualize both progress and the persistent barriers many people with disabilities and their families face today. Toggle through the timeline and click the links for more information.  



Learn more about disability history in this ‘Brief but Spectacular Take’ with late disability rights leader Judith Heumann

Judith Heumann and her peers led the way in the 1960s to formalize laws that would protect and support people with disabilities across the nation. (PBS Newshour)

Vicky Diaz-Camacho covers community affairs and heads up the journalism engagement series, curiousKC, for Kansas City PBS.

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