Throughout my childhood education, I took my own short, wheelchair accessible bus to the school a town over from mine. My town’s school was less than a mile from my house, but they had refused to accommodate me. My mother fought tooth and nail, got a lawyer, and the local school ended up footing the bill to send me to the next town over. By the time I graduated, I knew I had my parents to thank for getting me an equal education and supports to live, but I did not comprehend all of the work of the generations of disabled people before me that had created this pathway. I think it was this experience that made me want to understand the societal aspects of disability and major in Disability Studies in college.
In college, I took a class in Disability History, and learned that the laws that protected people with disabilities were not just given; they were fought for by disabled activists. It made me realize the role disability history had played in my life. My education, medical care, and community supports were all a direct result of years of hard-fought activism.
When I started my apprenticeship at RespectAbility, I pitched the idea of doing a social media series on disability history, because it is such an under-taught topic that is essential to understanding how to address the issues the disability community still faces today. I was so grateful to share Tom Olin’s and Anthony Tusler’s photographs in the series to help bring these important events to life. While at community college, I took the public bus for the first time, photographing the experience for my photography class. It was not until creating this project that I realized how ADAPT’s actions and Tom Olin documenting them allowed such a moment to occur. [continue reading…]