xiii Americans have a complex relationship with disability identity. A significant num- ber of young people who grew up since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 have embraced a view that is common among disability activists. These Americans tend to see disability as an important part of who they are—in some ways similar to their race or ethnic- ity, gender or sexual orientation. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia host regular disability pride parades, designed to celebrate and build a stronger local dis- ability community identity and “disability culture,” with performances and speeches by disabled artists and community leaders. For other Americans, disability contin- ues to be an unwanted “bad outcome” to be avoided at all costs or, wherever possible, to be kept hidden from employers and col- leagues. Even though great Americans like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harriet Tub- man, Bob Dole, and Abraham Lincoln lived with disabilities, American children often learn little about their disability experiences when these leaders are studied in history classes. Almost three decades after the passage of the ADA, elementary school children rarely study such American disability leaders as Justin Dart Jr., Judy Heumann, I. King Jor- dan, Sylvia Walker, and Pat Wright, who helped lead a fledgling movement and who worked closely with such elected officials as George H. W. Bush, Tom Harkin, Tony Coelho, Ted Kennedy, Major Owens, Bob Dole, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, and Steny Hoyer to pass a law that was transforma- tional in its time and has inspired civil and human rights laws all over the world. Disability in American Life: An Encyclo- pedia of Concepts, Policies, and Controver- sies describes a crucial part of American history and culture, one that affects most American families yet has received inad- equate attention from historians, textbook writers, educators, and the media. Learning from other movements for civil and human rights, and adapting tactics developed by those movements, Americans with disabili­ ties and their families and allies have built a movement to fight segregation, paternalism, and exclusion. Thanks to their efforts, bipar- tisan members of Congress have enshrined into law and policy the simple idea that dis- ability is a natural part of human experience and should not prevent people from experi- encing equality of opportunity, full partici- pation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. In the mid-2000s, member states of the United Nations worked together to write the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and they noted Foreword
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