Parallels In Time V. The Reawakening 1950 - 1980 B. Improve the Institutions
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Resident dining facilities
Resident dining facilities

In the 1960s, the architecture of the buildings reflected the medical model with separate lounges, showers, and toilets for staff. Residents were grouped together in large, sterile rooms. Floors were made of heavy tile for easy cleaning. Bathrooms contained toilets without stalls for the convenience of cleaning and monitoring residents. Professionals further separated themselves from their "patients" by wearing clinical white jackets that displayed their name and title. These institutional features demonstrated not only the high status of the professional, but also the low regard for persons with disabilities. As "patients," people with disabilities were diagnosed as "incurable".


A series of efforts to increase public awareness and understanding about institutional conditions eventually led to improvements in these facilities. In 1965, Senator Robert Kennedy, accompanied by a television crew, toured the Willowbrook State School in New York and described what he saw during his visit.

Robert Kennedy
Video: Senator Robert Kennedy visiting
institutions ('snake pits") in New York
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