The disability rights movement has never been a single or homogeneous campaign. Instead, it has comprised several distinct disability-based movements that emerged at various times from the late-nineteenth through the late-twentieth century. The 1970s was a pivotal moment in the history of those movements, with several major developments occurring in most, resulting in crucial advances in disability rights advocacy. During the 1970s, activism became more organized, politicized, and militant. Advocacy groups emerged or expanded at both the grassroots and national levels. The culmination of this invigorated U.S. disability rights movement in the 1970s was a national protest in April 1977 at U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare offices in nine cities. Demonstrators wanted federal regulators to make Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act an enforceable law. Prohibiting discrimination in federally funded programs against “otherwise qualified handicapped” persons, 504 was the first federal civil rights law protecting Americans with disabilities. These demonstrations had a critical impact on a reluctant Carter Administration’s making 504 enforceable and marked a watershed in the disability rights movement.

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