A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities
According to the 2010 census there were 54 million people with disabilities. That is one in five people who live in the U.S. Then you have all the people related to and who interact with that 54 million. That is a lot of people who have experience with disabilities. A museum on the American experience with disabilities makes sense. What happened to such people throughout our history? What are their stories today? What can they expect in the future? How can we use this chronology of experience to shape a more inclusive society and more accessible communities?
We have drafted such legislation based on that enacted to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Public Law No: 108-184 (12/16/2003)), the newest museum on the National Mall to join the family of museums operated by the Smithsonian Institution.
Here are the top ten reasons why such a museum related to the American experience with disabilities is needed now.
1. We have a lot of partisan tribalism on display. We need something to bring us together – why not invest in common ground by creating a place where the American experience with disabilities through history can be shared?
2. We have preconceived notions about how to treat people with disabilities. We need a place to test such notions and maybe develop more appropriate ones.
3. We have varied perspectives on the value of people with disabilities. We need a place to capture and to celebrate their contributions.
4. We have a built environment that is not always welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities. We need space to show what a difference an accessible place can make.
5. We often assume people with disabilities do not have preferences and need to be cared for. We need a place where we can educate ourselves about what happens when such assumptions are flipped.
6. We have policies based on good intentions that have unintended adverse consequences. We need to learn how they could be changed for the better.
7. We have human service systems that work and those that don’t. We need a place to demonstrate what real person-centered planning and self-directed services allows to happen.
8. We have environments, such as schools and workplaces, that promote and foster meaningful inclusion. We need a place to celebrate such environments and promote their replication.
9. We need to understand that timing, time, and the use of time are the fundamental factors of difference between a person with a disability and a non-disabled person. We need a place to show what happens when time or timing is considered.
10. We need to understand that people with disabilities are the world’s most innovative problem solvers. We need a place to showcase what happens when they are part of planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation. Society, as a whole, benefits.
A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities – bringing it about – would trigger new partnerships, divert everyone from political tribalism, and reaffirm our collective commitment to core American values.
April 18, 2018
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act - (Sec. 1) Establishes within the Smithsonian Institution (SI) the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities, to be operated as a center for scholarship and a location for museum training, public education, exhibits, and collection and study of items and materials relating to the life, art, history, and culture of persons with disabilities that encompass the period from the founding of the United States to the present day and also projects what the experience may be in the future.
(Sec. 2) Establishes the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Council to: (1) advise and assist the SI Board of Regents on Museum planning, design, construction, operation, and budgets; and (2) have responsibility and authority with respect to the Museum's collections and work, subject to the Board of Regents' general policies.
(Sec. 3) Requires the Secretary of SI to appoint a Director to manage the Museum.
(Sec. 4) Authorizes the Director of the Museum to carry out educational and liaison programs in support of Museum goals.
(5) Requires the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in consultation with the Council and the Director of the Museum, to establish specified grant, scholarship, internship, and fellowship programs relating to local and state museums devoted in part or entirely to the American experience with disabilities. Authorizes appropriations to the IMLS Director for such programs.
(Sec. 6) Directs the Board of Regents, in consultation with specified Commissions and congressional committee officials, to select the Museum's site from one of four specified sites on, adjacent to, or near the national mall. Requires the Board of Regents to pay costs of planning, design, and construction of the Museum on the chosen site as follows: 50 percent from Federal funds and 50 percent from non-Federal sources. Authorizes appropriations.
(Sec. 7) Provides for Congressional Budget Act compliance by declaring that authority under this Act to enter into contracts or to make payments shall be effective in any fiscal year only to the extent provided in advance in an appropriations Act, except that amounts made available under section 9 of this Act shall remain available until expended.
(Sec. 8) Directs the Council and the Board of Regents, in carrying out their duties under this Act, to consider the reports and plans submitted by the National Museum of the American Plan for Action Presidential Commission under the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-106).
(Sec. 9) Authorizes appropriations to SI to carry out this Act (except as already provided) in a specified amount for FY 2019, and in necessary amounts for subsequent fiscal years.
Let's make this happen, ok?