Monday, May 6, 2024

Status of Disability Museum Initiative

 I can't believe I have not written a post since last July! Well, I have news on the group focused specifically on the brick and mortar effort. We have created a group called Friends of the Museum of Disability History and Culture (FMDHC). We are working on incorporation, obtaining nonprofit status, and planning to solicit funds from an established funding source. We have formed a steering committee made up of the right kind of experts to guide us. We are working with Senator Casey to introduce legislation on a commission to assess the potential of authorizing a Museum of Disability and Culture. This is the first step. If a Commission is enacted and it recommends Congress pass a legislation for an actual museum, separate legislation must be passed for that -- step 2. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

We have generated bipartisan interest in the Senate.  Our current plan is for introduction of the step 1 legislation, the commission, in early June 2024. We have reached out to the Bipartisan Disability Caucus in the House of Representatives as well. Its Co-Chairs are Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) and Debbie Dingell (MI). It would be AMAZING if both the Senate and House would introduce the legislation on the same day!

If you would like to help here are some points to use when contacting your Senators and Representatives:

People with disabilities comprise approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population. Significant change began to occur in the last quarter of the 20th century for this segment of the population. Most notably was the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The catalyst for this action was an unprecedented grassroots campaign comprised of people with disabilities and their advocates. This exceptional collection of problem solvers deserves a place to tell their stories and the U.S. population needs a place to learn about and grasp the challenges people with disabilities have faced in this country over time – what they did to make the U.S. more inclusive and accessible and what more remains to be done to bring about a fully inclusive society, a model for the world. 


Such a Museum of Disability and Culture will: 

  • Provide a platform to educate people about the intersectionality between disability and other distinct populations including but not limited to those celebrated in our national museums for African Americans, American Indians, Women, and Latinos. 
  • Be a stage for collaboration with museums, organizations, and every day people and influence their exhibits and programs. 
  • Trigger interest among others to identify, collect, preserve, and share disability-related artifacts and events, including oral histories. 
  • Be an immersive experience, shaping and reshaping attitudes and perceptions of people with disabilities in positive ways that last; reinforce advocacy for disability rights; and perhaps motivate people to embrace careers connected to building fully accessible communities.

This is something that could bring us all together just like the ADA did. If you have questions or want to chat just send me a comment here and I will respond. I promise. In the meantime, let your elected federal officials know what is coming and ask them to be a cosponsor of the commission legislation. It would be phenomenal if we all push hard to have the legislation on the President's desk by July 26, 2024, the anniversary of the ADA. It will happen if we work together.

Thank you.

Common Grounder