All of this work took place in the context of significant changes in legislation.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112, Section 504) is often called the first civil rights act for people with disabilities (the second being the Americans with Disabilities Act). It authorized over $1 billion for training and placement of people with mental and physical disabilities into employment. It also provided the first focus on rehabilitation services for people with severe disabilities. Section 504 prohibited discrimination based on disability by any agency (including employers) receiving federal funds.

Karen Flippo recalls, however, that the impact of the anti-discrimination provisions was delayed. 

In 1977… on my first day of work, I walked a couple of blocks to the Federal Building in San Francisco.  Outside, protesters were calling for the promulgation of regulations for Section 504(d) of the Rehabilitation Act.  The few words carried in the regulations symbolized the power that drove the disability rights movement for many years, "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 financial assistance."

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