Accessible Democracy 1990

In 1988, students and alumni of Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington, DC, protested the University’s selection of a hearing president. Holding signs saying “Deaf President Now,” protesters demanded a deaf leader. While the nation watched, the University gave in to student demands and appointed I. King Jordan as its first deaf president.

Americans with a variety of disabilities joined together in increasing numbers to demand equal rights alongside other civil rights movements of the 1960s. The Gallaudet protest significantly increased awareness of disability rights. Two years later, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, the most comprehensive civil rights legislation for disabled Americans.