Institutions, Eugenics, Community, Rights: How Did We Get Where We Are Today?

History connects us, inspires us, describes us. History can also be the future. It is imperative that the transgressions in the evolution of the disability rights movement must never be repeated; their lessons must be impressed upon future generations. This workshop gives an overview of the past 200 years of significant points in the disability rights movement and how it leads us into the future. After this session participants will able to: 1. Describe how the institutional model of support came to the United States and recognize the leading innovators of public services in the U.S.; identify dates of major trends and changes in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the U.S. 2. Define the word “eugenics” and be able to explain to others how eugenics hurt people with disabilities; explain that eugenics was the reason for mass sterilization and that eugenics and the institutional model were strongly linked 3. Explain to others that the Nazi idea of purifying the human race originated in the United States and the writings of the Social Darwinists; discuss the origins of “outside eyes” in our institutions – the conscientious objectors during WWII 4. Explain how scandals and exposes of U.S. institutional conditions began and the rise of the family and Arc advocacy movements 5. Summarize how lawsuits accelerated the exodus of people from institutions and that research revealed that all people are better off when they live in the community.

Jean Searle, Jim Conroy, Dennis Downey, Elliott Simon, Ellen Tierney