The 1970s was a decade of great political and social strides for the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement.
The decade saw the establishment and rapid expansion of independent living centers and organizations founded by self-advocates across the nation. Americans with disabilities organized highly visible, cross-disability campaigns to persuade politicians and the public to accept the concept of independent living. And to realize many of the limitations associated with disability are actually socially imposed limitations which stunt one’s potential.
Clevelanders were part of this nation-wide movement, establishing local architectural barriers laws, obtaining a mandate for curb cuts, initiating informal independent living services and laying the groundwork for the city’s first IL center.
- Cleveland’s National Paraplegia Foundation works to pass a Cleveland Architectural Barriers Ordinance. Cleveland advocates stage a demonstration outside Cleveland City Hall to stress the importance of the Municipal Architectural Barriers Ordinance to the community.
- The Berkeley Center for Independent Livingis founded by Ed Roberts and associates. It is recognized as the first center for independent living.
Cleveland’s Architectural Barriers Ordinance passes in June.
- New York’s Disabled in Action organizes demonstrations in New York and Washington, D.C. against Nixon’s veto of the Rehabilitation Act.
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is passed.
Section 504, provides the first civil rights clause for Americans with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 makes it illegal for federal agencies, public universities, federal contractors, and any other institution or activity receiving federal funds to discriminate on the basis of disability.
After numerous protests by disability-rights activists, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare does not enforce full regulations until 1977.
- National Association of the Deaf conducts a census of deaf Americans and tabulates 13.4 million hard-of-hearing and 1.8 million deaf Americans.
- The Cleveland Barriers-Free Committee is established to direct the campaign to get curb cuts in Cleveland’s streets. Cleveland’s first curb ramp is installed in August.
- Cleveland’s NPF chapter begins providing information, referral and peer support services out of member homes after work and on weekends.
- The Education for Handicapped Children Act of 1975 – now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, is signed into law. It guarantees a free, appropriate education for all children with disabilities.
- The first convention of American Association of the Deaf-Blindis held in Cleveland.
- Advocates call for a set of regulations to enforce Section 504. Advocates stage demonstrations in ten cities, forcing the government to sign the regulations.
- Clevelander Doris Brennan (LEAP Founder) coordinates a meeting of local disability agencies to discuss starting an IL center in Cleveland.
- Reverend Dick Sering establishes to work with area churches on issues of disability access and inclusion.
- Reverend Dick Sering organizes the Disabled Ministry Task Force and the Job Development Task Force to promote rights and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
- Cleveland advocates officially establish themselves as Services for Independent Living (SIL), having obtained seed money from the St. Ann Foundation.
- Howard “Rocky” Stone founds Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland.