Why Some Disability Rights Activists Are Protesting ‘Me Before You’

Author Harold Daniel

Posted Mar 5, 2023

Reads 6.5K

Group of People Standing on the Street Holding Placards

Disability rights activists are protesting the new movie "Me Before You." The film, which is being marketed as a beautiful tearjerker, has struck a nerve within the disability community. The story follows a quadriplegic man named Will who falls in love with his caretaker, Louisa. When Louisa discovers that Will plans to end his life through assisted suicide, she spends the rest of the film encouraging him to live boldly before he chooses death.

The film's portrayal of people with disabilities has caused outrage among many disability rights activists. Dominick Evans, an entertainment advocate and disability rights activist from NYC who has a progressive neuromuscular disease since age 15, says that the film sends a destructive message to people newly injured or diagnosed with disabilities. "It suggests that suicide is freeing and noble or heroic," Evans said. "I believe in supporting and loving people with disabilities by providing opportunities for them to grasp leading full lives - not pessimism."

A Brief History of the Disability Rights Movement

Blackboard with YOUR LIFE MATTERS inscription on black background

The Disability Rights Movement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when activists with disabilities started advocating for their rights to be treated equally. The movement gained momentum in 1990 with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which aimed to provide equal opportunities and protections for people with disabilities. Today, the movement continues to push for accessibility and inclusion in all aspects of society, from education and employment to technology and transportation.

Helping Hands: Groups That Aid Individuals with Disabilities

Disability rights activists have played an instrumental role in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Approximately 407 million people across the world live with some form of disability, and it is important that their voices are heard. In the mid-1900s, people with disabilities were often excluded from society, and their disability was seen as their sole-defining feature. However, today, thanks to the tireless efforts of disability rights activists, many individuals with disabilities are able to lead independent self-affirming lives.

Young Man in Orange Long Sleeve Shirt Assisting a Blind Man Sitting on a Chair Touching a Book in Braille

One such group that aids individuals with disabilities is the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). The NDRN works to promote and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities by providing legal representation, advocacy services, and other resources. With a website that is approximately 11674 kb in size, this organization provides information on a variety of topics ranging from education to employment. By working closely with policymakers and government agencies, the NDRN helps ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to essential services and opportunities.

Understanding What The Disabilities Act Means For Americans

In the 1980s, disability activists began demanding that disabled people be granted the same rights as other Americans. They wanted a broad civil rights statute that would provide equal treatment and access to employment opportunities, public accommodations, and transportation systems. This eventually led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.

The ADA was intended to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in areas such as employment services rendered by businesses, local governments places, public accommodation transportation, and telecommunications services. Under the ADA, businesses are required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, such as restructuring jobs or modifying work equipment. Public services can no longer deny services or make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to participate fully in society.

The legislative demands of disability rights activists have transformed how people view those with disabilities. No longer are they pen people who face prejudice due to stereotypical portrayals in media or physical barriers when trying to access schools, housing, voting stations or affordable health care. Though there is still progress to be made and deep-rooted assumptions and stereotypical biases remain prevalent in society today, it is thanks to the disability rights movement that we have made great strides towards ensuring equal access and treatment for all Americans.

People with Disabilities Battling a History of Bias

For centuries, people with disabilities have been subject to biased assumptions and harmful stereotypes. In the 1800s, individuals with disabilities were considered meager, tragic, pitiful, and unfit for society. They were ridiculed as objects of curiosity and entertainment. Many disabled persons were forced to undergo sterilization or enter institutions where they spent their entire lives. Such treatment was considered merciful actions in a biased society.

Even after World War II and increasing pressure from disability rights activists, disabilities continued to be invisible in the United States. The government provided some rehabilitation assistance but contributed little to economic marginalization that left many disabled individuals on long-term welfare. However, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a great advocate for people with disabilities since he himself had paralysis from polio. He helped change the perception that being disabled was an abnormal shameful condition that could be medically cured.

In the 1950s, disabled World War II veterans faced increasing pressure to receive vocational training thanks to the advocacy of disability rights activists. They made significant initial advancements towards self-reliance for people with disabilities by ensuring that public transportation, telephones, bathrooms, stores and office buildings had stairs installed or offered alternatives like elevators or ramps so that eligible people could seek meaningful work. Despite these initial advancements made by disability rights activists in the United States, employer attitudes created worse barriers than physical accessibility for many young men seeking employment who were thankful citizens but still struggled daily with societal discrimination and bias against their abilities as capable workers.

Unleashing the Power of the Rehabilitation Act

In the 1970s, disability rights activists lobbied Congress to include civil rights language in the 1972 Rehabilitation Act. This historic act was a turning point in the history of civil rights, as it provided equal opportunity and access for individuals with disabilities. In particular, the 1973 section 504 provided protections for individuals with mental disabilities by prohibiting discrimination in federally funded programs. Additionally, the Transportation Barriers Compliance Board mandated equal access to public transportation services, public housing, and vocational training.

Woman Standing Behind Red Curtain

The Rehabilitation Act is a powerful tool for those seeking to unleash the full potential of individuals with disabilities. Its provisions not only provide legal protections against discrimination but also encourage employers and institutions to adopt more inclusive policies and practices. By embracing the principles of equal opportunity and accessibility, we can create a society that values diversity and empowers all its members to reach their full potential. As we continue to build on this legacy of progress, let us remember the important role that disability rights activists played in making this possible and strive towards a future where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.

Journey towards Fair Treatment and Access for All

The civil rights movement began in the 1960s, and disability advocates decided to join forces alongside other minority groups to demand equal treatment and equal access. Disability rights are about ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. Disability rights activists mobilized at the local level demanding national initiatives to address social barriers facing the disability community.

A Person Massaging a Client's Bare Back

Disability rights activists have followed a similar pattern as other minority community parent advocates, rallying against stereotypes and institutional change. They have been at the forefront demanding fair treatment and access for all, working tirelessly to create a society where people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of life. Despite facing many challenges along the way, these activists continue to push forward with their mission of creating a more inclusive world for everyone.

A Breakthrough in Education: The Handicapped Children Act

The Handicapped Children Act brought a major change in the education system by guaranteeing equal access to public education for all children, regardless of their disabilities. This act provided the opportunity for full inclusion of children with disabilities into mainstream education classes, ensuring that they receive an adequate and satisfactory level of education.

This achievement was due to the Disabilities Education Act idea, which required individual education plans to be developed for each child with a disability. These plans were developed with parental approval and included educational decisions affecting the child's disability. With this act in place, children with disabilities can now attend regular classes and attain an education just like any other student.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where and how did the disability rights movement originated?

The disability rights movement originated in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, when people with disabilities began advocating for equal rights and opportunities. It was sparked by a number of factors, including discrimination, lack of accessibility, and institutionalization.

When did the disability rights movement start?

The disability rights movement began in the 1960s and 1970s, as people with disabilities fought for equal rights and accessibility.

What is the disability rights movement?

The disability rights movement is a social and political effort aimed at securing equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. It advocates for the removal of barriers that prevent those with disabilities from participating fully in society.

What are some examples of disability rights activism?

Some examples of disability rights activism include protests, advocacy campaigns, legal challenges, and grassroots organizing to fight for equal access and accommodations for people with disabilities.

How did disability rights change in the 1970s?

Disability rights in the 1970s saw significant progress due to the passage of laws like Section 504 and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which helped ensure equal access to education and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Harold Daniel

Harold Daniel

Writer at RHTB

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Harold Daniel is a writer and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. He has a passion for exploring the great outdoors, which often inspires his work. Harold's blog covers a variety of topics, from travel and adventure to personal development and self-care.

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