Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Charles Carr

Audio transcript: On the gains and future work of the disability rights movement
Date: June 30, 2001
Interviewer: Fred Pelka

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

So I feel that in terms of the disability rights movement, we got the ADA, but we didn't get full employment. We didn't even get partial employment. We don't have adequate housing. We don't have adequate transportation. So we didn't get all we wanted, but what we did get was our voices heard. We did get some political status. We are making gains that are measured gains. If you look back ten years, even, since the ADA was passed, and you look at the number of people with all types of disabilities that have assumed mantles of power on local, statewide, national levels, to me, as someone who's been around as long as I have, I'm very happy and I'm very pleased.

What I worry about, though, is this trend that I see now of apathy and stagnation. Some of the younger folks are feeling pretty apolitical and almost feeling like what Tip O'Neil [Speaker of the House Thomas P. O'Neil] said so eloquently, and that is that people that have made it in any movement have a tendency to say to hell with them, I have mine. And they settle for that. As a leader, I absolutely believe what he's saying is true. So if the younger folks are feeling like I've got my piece, I don't really need to fight any longer, they're really wrong. All they've got to do is look around in their community and look at any institution—state hospital, state schools, nursing home, whatever. They're filled to capacity. Look at the unemployment rate hovering around seventy percent and realize that we've just begun.

What we've done is we've made gains in integrating people into the community. Gains. But where's the rest of the dream? How many home owners are there with disabilities? How many people are gainfully employed? How many people have families and have reached their full potential? Not very many. So we have a lot of work to do.

End of transcript

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