Disabled Rights

American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality

Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer

"The particular strength of Switzer's book is the scope of its examination of disability policy, incorporating concepts from policy analysis, social science, and disability studies, as well as contemporary and historical accounts. The book should be a useful resource for anyone interested in disability policy and the context within which it operates."
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"Freedom and Justice for all" is a phrase that can have a hollow ring for many members of the disability community in the United States. Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer gives us a comprehensive introduction to and overview of U.S. disability policy in all facets of society, including education, the workplace, and social integration. Disabled Rights provides an interdisciplinary approach to the history and politics of the disability rights movement and assesses the creation and implementation, successes and failures of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by federal, state and local governments.

Disabled Rights explains how people with disabilities have been treated from a social, legal, and political perspective in the United States. With an objective and straightforward approach, Switzer identifies the programs and laws that have been enacted in the past fifty years and how they have affected the lives of people with disabilities. She raises questions about Congressional intent in passing the ADA, the evolution and fragmentation of the disability rights movement, and the current status of disabled people in the U.S.

Illustrating the shift of disability issues from a medical focus to civil rights, the author clearly defines the contemporary role of persons with disabilities in American culture, and comprehensively outlines the public and private programs designed to integrate disabled persons into society. She covers the law's provisions as they apply to private organizations and businesses and concludes with the most up-to-date coverage of recent Supreme Court decisions-especially since the 2000-2002 terms-that have profoundly influenced the implementation of the ADA and other disability policies.

For activists as well as scholars, students, and practitioners in public policy and public administration, Switzer has written a compassionate, yet powerful book that demands attention from everyone interested in the battle for disability rights and equality in the United States.

Table of Contents


Demographics of Disability
Understanding Disability Policy
A Word about Language

Chapter 1: Disabled Policymaking/Disabled Policy
The Paradigm Shift
Overview of the Policymaking Process
Key Stakeholders

Chapter 2: History of Segragation and Stereotypes
"The Problem of Feeblemindedness"
Assistance and Treatment
The Stereotypes Continue

Chapter 3: Compensation and Rehabilitation
Historical Basis of Compensation
Industrial-Related Disabilities
Social Security
The Disability Insurance Crisis
Vocational Education
1973 Rehabilitation Act
Education for Disabled Children
Disability as a Business/Rehabilitation as an Industry
Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999

Chapter 4: Social and Political Activism
Disability Rights as a Social Movement
Disability Interest Groups
Berkeley and the Independent Living Movement
"The Splintered Universe"
Coalition Building and Cross-Disability Activism
Demonstrations and Protests

Chapter 5: The ADA and the Vision of Equality
Developing a Naitonal Policy: Early Initiatives
Opening the Policy Window
Policy Environment
Legislative Building Blocks
United We Stand
Friends in High Places
Legislative Process
Stealth Campaign
Opposition Forces

Chapter 6: The ADA as Policy
Provisions of the Law
Implementation and Rulemaking
Key Litigation Issues
Fusion of Positive and Negative Rights

Chapter 7: Life beyond the ADA: Policy Hot Buttons
Reproductive Rights and Technology
Not Dead Yet
Jerry's Kids and Telethons
Christopher Reeve and the Myht of the Supercrip
Deaf Culture and Cochlear Implants
The Intergration Mandate
Violence against People with Disabilities
Invisible Disabilities

Chapter 8: Status Report on Equality
Attitudes and Public Opinion
Social Integration
Barriers to Independence
Health Care
Overall Analysis


Appendix A: Suggestions for Further Reading
Appendix B: Selected Disability Periodicals and Media
Appendix C: Annotated Guide to Nongovernmental Disability Organizations
Appendix D: Chronology of Important Events in the History and Development of American Disability Policy




"Links to Nongovernmental Disability Organizations

The following links are from Appendix C of Disabled Rights

Adaptive Environments Center

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf

Alliance for Technology Access

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association for the Deaf-Blind

American Association on Mental Retardation

American Bar Association Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law

American Council of the Blind

American Diabetes Foundation

American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT)

American Foundation for the Blind

American Institute of Architects

American Society for Deaf Children

Arthritis Foundation

Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living

Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

Attention Deficit Information Network

Autism Society of America

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Center for Universal Design

Cochlear Implant Association

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

Council for Disability Rights

Council for Exceptional Children

Disability Resources, Inc.

Disability Rights Advocates

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc.

Disabled Peoples International

Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association

Epilepsy Foundation

International Dyslexia Association

Job Accomodation Network (JAN)

Justice for All

League for the Hard of Hearing

Learning Disabilities Association of America

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America

Little People of America

Lupus Foundation of America


Mainstream, Inc.

Mental Disability Rights International

Mobility International USA

Muscular Dystrophy Association

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

National Association for the Visually Handicapped

National Association of the Deaf

National Association of Homebuilders Research Center

Natioal Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems

National Center for Dissemination of Disability Research

National Council on Independent Living

National Disability Party

National Down Syndrome Society

National Easter Seals Society

National Federation of the Blind

National Hemophilia Foundation

National Mental Health Association

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

National Organization on Disability

National Osteoporosis Foundation

National Spinal Cord Injury Association

Not Dead Yet

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Parkinson's Disease Foundation

Rehabilitation International

Self Help for Hard of Hearing People

Society for Disability Studies

Spina Bifida Association of America


United Cerebral Palsy Association

Very Special Arts

Western Law Center for Disability Rights

World Institute on Disability"—

"Links to Selected Disability Periodicals and Media

The following links are from Appendix B of Disabled Rights


ABILITY Magazine


American Council of the Blind Radio

AnAurora Magazine for Women

Braille Forum

Braille Monitor

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Electronic Newsletter

Closing the Gap

Council for Exceptional Children Online

Dialogue Magazine

Disability Resources Monthly

Disability Studies Online Magazine

Disability Studies Quarterly

Disability Times

Disability World

Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association Action

Enabled Online

iCAN Online

Inclusion Daily Express

Justice for All E-Network

Little People of America Online

Mainstream Magazine Online


National Alliance for the Mentally Ill E-News

National Organization on Disability E-Newsletter

New Mobility Magazine

On A Roll Radio

Ragged Edge Magazine

Reach Out Magazine

Volta Review/Volta Voices

WE Magazine

"Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer has captured the history, politics, and evolution—indeed the soul—of the civil rights movement for people with disabilities. Readers of this book will come away with a comprehensive understanding of the discrimination facing people with disabilities and the hard fought struggles which have created legal protections for Americans who experience disability."—Stephen L. Percy, director of Center for Urban Initiatives and Research & professor of political science, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

"The particular strength of Switzer's book is the scope of its examination of disability policy, incorporating concepts from policy analysis, social science, and disability studies, as well as contemporary and historical accounts. The book should be a useful resource for anyone interested in disability policy and the context within which it operates."—Richard Scotch, professor of sociology and political economy, University of Texas at Dallas

"Jacqueline Switzer has written a comprehensive treatment of this nation's disability policy with a remarkable depth of understanding. Switzer's work is fresh, powerful. This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to know what disability policy is, what it does and does not do, and why."—Kay Schriner, research professor, School of Social Work, University of Arkansas and founding editor of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer is an associate professor of political science at Northern Arizona University.

328 pp., 6 x 9

Feb 2003

328 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-898-6
Feb 2003

328 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-310-0
Feb 2003

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