Advocacy & Activism
Eleanor Smith founded the Atlanta-based advocacy network, Concrete Change, in 1986. Concrete Change works to ensure a basic level of access in all new homes so the experience of persons with disabilities in their homes is one of connection and participation instead of isolation. The principle of "visitability" also aims to ensure that people who develop mobility impairments can live safely in their own homes rather than being forced by architecture into unsafe residences or undesirable displacement into institutions.
Smith has used a wheelchair since being diagnosed with polio at age three. After completing an MA in English in 1963, she worked for 25 years as a teacher and counselor, while also active in advocacy groups for disability liberation. In 1989, she became a full-time disability rights activist, participating with ADAPT and Not Dead Yet, and leading Concrete Change. In 1992, Smith wrote and helped pass an Atlanta ordinance, which was the first law in the nation requiring a basic level of access in certain private, single family homes intended for the general public rather than persons with disabilities. Since then, she has helped advocates in many locales press for Visitability initiatives, both legislative and voluntary. In 1996, she was a founding member of the national umbrella group, Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing. Most recently, Smith helped craft the first national Visitability bill, introduced in Congress last fall. She received a Best Practices award for Visitability from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1999, and the Vital Service Award in 2002 from the Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities.
- More detailed information about the Visitability movement
- RESNA Plenary Address
- Interview with Eleanor Smith Eleanor Smith
When we think of access, we usually think of ramps, elevators and curbcuts. But what about the Internet? Judy Brewer is the Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative of the Worldwide Web Consortium, the group that sets the standards for how the web operates. She says that many web sites are still inaccessible to people with a variety of disabilities and that making web sites accessible also makes them usable by other under-represented groups. Find out how you can make your web site accessible to everyone:
- Print transcript
Lucy Gwin, Editor, Mouth Magazine
Freedom Clearing House - About Mouth Magazine
"Ask the next do-gooder you meet: Have you checked yourself into a nursing home lately? Tried to board an "accessible" bus in a wheelchair? Filed an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice? Asked a charity for actual help? The answer will be no. It's not in their job description to use the godforsaken things.
And so it is that do-gooders go on doing their good about us --- without us.
They were only trying to help!
And along comes the Mouth, roaring up from street level to take their system by the throat. This rude little magazine demands answers from the people in charge, laughs at the lying answers, and occasionally bites down, hard, somewhere near the jugular.
If you think you might enjoy the sport of commoners, come on and get a Mouth of your own."
"Blessed and Strategic Are the Weak: a Disability Civil Rights Perspective on
September 11th and its Aftermath" by Victoria Ann Lewis
This essay is based on remarks delivered at the Cornerstone Theater's Bridge
Awards honoring artists that serve community, October 1, 2001 .
Cheryl Green Keynote <from dwnet>
Institute on Independent Living Library - Women and Disabilities
Arts Panel. (2003). All-Girl Action: Crip Queer Women in Performance. Disabled Women's Alliance.
Axis Dance Troupe
Crip Commentary (Laura Hershey's wonderful website)
LISTENING WITH AN OPEN EYE
“Since 1986, the Non-Traditional Casting Project has worked to address and
seek solutions to the problems of exclusion and racism in theatre, film and
television. In 1987, we established Artist Files/Online, the largest files
in the country of actors with disabilities and actors of color. We
recognized that the exclusion of these actors was not only discriminatory,
it denied audiences the talent of these performers and in instances in which
non-disabled actors were cast in disability-specific roles, it denied
audiences the experience of Deafness and disability accurately portrayed. We
recognized that Deaf culture is an important part of our national heritage
and cultural legacy that should be reflected accurately on our stages and
screens and shared with a broad spectrum of the American public.”
NATIONAL ARTS AND DISABILITY CENTER
The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) is the national information
dissemination, technical assistance and referral center specializing in the
field of arts and disability. The NADC is dedicated to promoting the full
inclusion of children and adults with disabilities into the visual-,
performing-, media, and literary-arts communities. Its resource directories,
annotated bibliographies, related links and conferences serve to advance
artists with disabilities and accessibility to the arts.
NATIONAL DISABILITY ARTS FORUM (UK)
Includes database of EUROPEAN artists with disabilities - as well as some
wonderful photographs of artists work (and artists at work).
OTHER VOICES PROJECT AT THE MARK TAPER FORUM
“This program is dedicated to the empowerment of new voices in the American
theatre through a variety of strategies including performance training,
documentary plays and a professional playwriting program for writers with
disabilities. In recent years, the project has drawn on the model of the
tent-show Chautauqua to create community events that are popular,
entertaining and educational. Past productions include the television
specials Tell Them I'm a Mermaid and Who Parks in Those Spaces, the national
tour of The Greatest Stories Never Told for the AFL-CIO, and Teenage Ninja
Mothers for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Next spring Other
Voices will host their third play reading series: May Days and Chautauqua
Nights. For more information on Other Voices, please call Victoria Ann Lewis
at (213) 972-0759.”
Ragged Edge Magazine Online
Ragged Edge magazine is successor to the award-winning periodical, The Disability Rag. In Ragged Edge, and on this website, you'll find the best in today's writing about society's "ragged edge" issues: medical rationing, genetic discrimination, assisted suicide, long-term care, attendant services. We cover the disability experience in America -- what it means to be a crip living at the start of the 21st century.
VSA arts is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1974 by
Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. VSA arts is creating a society where people
with disabilities can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.
Designated by The United States Congress as the coordinating organization
for arts programming for persons with disabilities, VSA arts offers
arts-based programs in creative writing, dance, drama, music and the visual
Gill, C. (2001, Winter 2001). What is the "Social Model of Disability" and Why Should You Care? IDHD Alert, 12, 8-9.