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Quotes of the Day for 28 April 2004 – Handicaps and Disability

It was on this day in 1977 that Joseph Califano, Secretary of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, signed the "Section 504" rules requiring access for the handicapped to federally-financed facilities. It was a shameful episode. The Rehabilitation Act of 1972 was passed late that year, but it fell victim to a "pocket veto." The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 then passed in March of that year and was vetoed by President Nixon. Advocates scaled back certain parts of the bill and it passed again in September. Nixon signed it into law, but his secretary of HEW let it sit without implementation, even in the face of a court order. After Jimmy Carter came to office and appointed a new secretary, HEW continued to stonewall. On 5 April 1977, activists with various handicaps staged sit-ins in HEW offices at Washington City, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle. At Washington City and San Francisco, they didn't leave until Califano set pen to paper, 23 days later. Now, I'm certainly willing to stipulate that some of the resulting regulations are absurd (like braille on drive-through ATM machines), but it seems wrong to fight against basic accessibility with this level of intransigence. Here are some thoughts on handicaps and disability.

Van's signature

The quotes:

The more I read and the more I talked to other parents of children with disabilities and normal children, the more I found that feelings and emotions about children are very much the same in all families. The accident of illness or disability serves only to intensify feelings and emotions, not to change them.
     - Judith Weatherly

Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too.
     - Lawrence Bixby

Parents' accepting attitudes can help children learn to be open and tolerant. Parents can explain unfamiliar behavior or physical handicaps and show children that the appropriate response to differences should be interest rather than revulsion.
     - Dian G. Smith

It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life - the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
     - Hubert Horatio Humphrey, 1911 - 1978

We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.
     - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone.
     - Martina Navratilova

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