DisAbility Rights Galaxy is proud to present a slice of disability history every Wednesday throughout October. Articles, discussion questions, video summaries and video quizzes offer a varied media approach to disability history, designed to promote discussion and insight in classrooms.
Galaxy partnered with Duke University’s DukeEngage program to provide an immersive summer internship experience for the author of these posts, undergrad, Dalton Brown.
Dalton’s articles explore: Disability and competitive athletics; Clifford Beers and the origins of the mental health reform movement; The horrors uncovered at Willowbrook State School; the dehumanizing nature of freak shows; and how opportunities are increasing for people with Down syndrome.
Teachers who wish to prepare lessons may study the articles before they are available to Galaxy’s readers by following the “Teacher’s Sneak Preview” link.
October 1: Disability and competitive athletics
This story reveals the origins and evolution of Special Olympics, in addition to the sport of Beep Baseball, an innovation which allows people who are blind and visually impaired to play America’s favorite pastime, baseball.
Read the compelling story of Clifford Beers who spent 3 years in ‘insane asylums’ at the turn of the 20th century. His devastating experiences with abuse and neglect spurred him to write a book exposing the horrors of the institutions, and to found an advocacy organization that still works to reform the mental health service system in America.
In this piece, you will hear from people who lived at Willowbrook State School, the notoriously atrocious institution in New York that was the subject of Geraldo Rivera’s 1972 shocking expository news documentary. Learn about the conditions at Willowbrook, the power of news media to galvanize change, and the new reality for some of the individuals now leading independent lives.
October 22: Possibilities increase each year for people with Down syndrome
Meet Tim who runs a successful restaurant in Albuquerque, where meals are served with a hug. Today’s reality for people with intellectual disabilities is starkly different from 100, 50, even 30 years ago. This article examines Nazi Germany, institutions for people with disabilities, and some of the reasons life span, and life opportunities are on the rise for people with Down syndrome in America.
Are you ready to squirm? This article takes you back to the 17th century origins of freak shows, and introduces you to some of the real people who made their living displaying their ‘differentness’ for the amusement of onlookers. Financial exploitation and humiliation were the hallmarks of this ‘profession’ in circuses around the globe. And if you imagine that freak shows are a thing of the past, think again.