PBS tackles ADA history

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Imagine being committed to a mental hospital before any laws or regulations were in place to advocate for you.  Intuitively you have “a powerful conviction that something was fundamentally wrong”, says a pioneer of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on “Lives Worth Living”, a historical documentary and biography by Producer and Director, Eric Neudel.

Logo of Public Broadcasting Service, PBS.

Lives Worth Living on PBS

This documentary not only chronicles the history of the disability rights movement through news archives but also tells the story of Fred Fay who had a spinal cord injury when he was sixteen and went on to become a leader of this movement.  The director was inspired to make this documentary after meeting Mr. Fay and being introduced to several other activists and legislators.  It is their stories that provide the content in this documentary.

I was incredibly moved while watching a clip of a protest where people with varying types of disabilities scale the 100 steps of the U.S, Capitol Building.  A little girl with cerebral palsy is climbing the stairs with all of her might when she belts out with determination and conviction “I’LL TAKE ALL NIGHT IF I HAVE TO!!!”  This moment is breath taking.  I look forward to revisiting the moment Congress decided to act on the ADA and Senator Tom Harkin, (D) Iowa, takes to the Senate floor to introduce the bill while signing to his brother who is deaf.  The message he conveyed: this is his proudest day in Congress.

“Lives Worth Living” premieres Thursday, October 27th, at 10pm on PBS Independent Lens.  Check out the trailer.