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Following are legislative milestones in the movement toward independence for persons with disabilities:


Architectural Barriers Act: Required most buildings and facilities that were designed, constructed, or altered with federal funds after 1969 to be accessible to people with physical disabilities.

1970 Urban Mass Transit Act: The 1964 Act was amended to require eligible local jurisdictions to plan and design mass transit facilities and services so that they could be available and useable by people with disabilities or people who are elderly. A grant and loan program was authorized to help state and local public agencies purchase vans or buses to transport people with severe mobility limitations. Three additional programs provided funding for projects that addressed national priorities, including transportation accessibility; and required project applicants to assure that non-peak fares for people with disabilities or people who are elderly did not exceed one-half of the fares for other riders during peak hours.

The Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments of 1970 were passed. This legislation gave states broad responsibility for planning and implementing comprehensive services for people with severe disabilities, and authorized the creation of a Developmental Disabilities Council in each state to plan and coordinate activities.


Rehabilitation Act: The 1973 Act was completely rewritten to place stronger emphasis on providing rehabilitation services to people with severe disabilities.

Title I authorizes formula grants to state vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide the following services: diagnosis and evaluation; counseling, guidance, referral and placement; vocational and other training; physical and mental restoration services; income maintenance; interpreter and reader services; orientation and mobility services; transportation; technological aids and devices; and rehabilitation engineering services. Vocational rehabilitation agencies were required to develop an "individualized written rehabilitation program" (IWRP) jointly with each individual receiving services.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by Congress during the 1970s. However, Section 504 was not supported by three Administrations, regulations were not promulgated for several years, and the law was not enforced. Section 504 states:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States... shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service."



Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act: Reauthorized all formula grants to University Affiliated Facilities (later University Affiliated Programs) and to state Developmental Disabilities Councils to address federal priority areas and an optional state priority area. It also authorized the establishment of state protection and advocacy systems to protect the rights of people with developmental disabilities.


Education of All Handicapped Children Act: Part B was expanded to assist state and local education agencies to provide a "free appropriate public education" in the "least restrictive setting" for all eligible children with disabilities. An individualized education program (IEP) must be developed, annual goals and short-term objectives identified, and specific special education and related services described. This is now titled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


Rehabilitation Act Amendments. Title VII authorized grants for the development of comprehensive independent living services for people with severe disabilities. Project grants were awarded to public and private nonprofit rehabilitation agencies to establish and operate centers for independent living. Under the 1978 amendments, centers could provide the following services: counseling and evaluation of individual needs; attendant care, training, and referral; advocacy; independent living skills training; housing and transportation referral assistance; health maintenance; recreational; and job placement. The National Institute of Handicapped Research (later renamed the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research - NIDRR) was created.