This decade began with the deinstitutionalization movement, formed by concerned parents and self-advocates who sought community-based alternatives to the state institutions, which had been the prescribed solution of medical experts for a half-century.
This is part of the grassroots beginnings of the modern Independent Living Movement. People with disabilities increased their demands for social participation while rejecting the medical model of disability in favor of a social model of disability. This new conception of disability, strongly influenced by the African-American Civil Rights Movement, explored the ways in which society placed limitation s n the individual.
The federal government passed the first disability rights legislation, the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968. The Act prompted advocates across the country to organize and work towards accessibility and disability rights at the local level. By the end of the decade an active grassroots political community begins to change the way Americans perceive and address issues of disability.
- President Kennedy appoints a President’s Panel on Mental Retardation.
- The American Standards Association (later known as The American National Standards Institute,or (ANSI), publishes the first accessibility standard titled, “Making Buildings Accessible to and Usable by the Physically Handicapped.” Forty-nine states have adapted accessibility legislation by 1973.
- Edward Roberts sues to gain admission to the U.C. of Berkeley as James Meredith sues the University of Mississippi to become its first black student.
- President Kennedy calls for a reduction, “over number of years and by hundreds of thousands, (in the number) of persons confined,” to residential institution. The Mental Retardation Facilities and community Health Centers Construction Act authorizes federal grants for nonprofit community mental health centers.
- The Civil Rights Act is passed.
- Medicare and Medicaid established, providing federally subsidized health care to Americans with disabilities through the Social Security Amendments of 1965 signed by President Johnson.
Anthony Joseph Celbrezze Sr. (of Cleveland) served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now know as Secretary of Health and Human Services), contributed to the enactment of this legislation.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments of 1965 were passed authorizing federal funds for construction of rehabilitation centers, expansion of existing vocational rehabilitation programs and the creation of the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to Rehabilitation of the Handicapped.
- The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 prohibits architectural barriers in all federally owned or leased buildings.
- Harry Fritz, Delores Murphy-Fritz, Jim Mathis, and Alice Sporar charter the North East Ohio Chapter of the National Paraplegia Foundation (NPF) in late 1968. The organization actively works towards creating accessibility in the city’s institutions and architecture.
Cleveland’s Services for Independent Living, Ohio’s first center for independent living, would be formed out of the advocacy efforts of the NPF.