Moments in Disability History 11
"Civil Rights: We're Going To Win This One"
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 helped to pave the way for the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 granted many rights to people with disabilities that were similar to the rights granted other minority groups in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Section 504 is widely recognized as the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities, however, its passage and implementation did not happen without a struggle. More than three years later, no implementing rules had been issued, prompting a nationwide "Sign 504" campaign and demonstration by people with disabilities. Another civil rights movement was underway.
The late United States Senator Hubert H. Humphrey worked tirelessly to secure passage of legislation that included disability anti-discrimination rights. In 1971, two years before Section 504 was enacted, he attempted to push through such language as an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act but was encouraged by his colleagues to include in the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 draft language.
A Look Back at 'Section 504'
San Francisco Sit-In a Defining Moment in Disability Rights History
Protester Judy Heumann gave tearful testimony before a congressional hearing triggered by the sit-in. Listen to an excerpt of Heumann's testimony.
504 demonstration organizer Kitty Cone said that as the sit-in neared two weeks, pressure grew on people to give up. Listen to a news report describing the conditions at the sit-in.
Short History of the 504 Sit in by Kitty Cone:
Video: The Power of 504 (Excerpt)
Video: Ed Roberts testifying at Section 504 hearings
Reflections on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Signing the Section 504 Rules: More to the Story by David Pfeiffer.