A synopsis of the parallels of Independent Living Philosophy and Deaf Community’s Goals
Posted on August 24, 2011 by Thomas Green
What do Max Starkloff, Colleen Starkloff, Jim Tuscher, Ed Roberts, Marca Bistro, Justin Dart and others have in common with George Veditz, Olof Hanson, Laurent Clerc, Gregory Hlibok, Alice Terry, Agatha Tiegel Hanson and others? All of these people are warriors for the rights of the people in their communities. The fight for the rights of people with disabilities and the rights of the deaf has a long history and from time to time, each group has influenced the other in their activism. The biggest federal legislation that had both communities working together was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. What activists in both communities had in common was the fundamental principle that all people with disabilities have the right to full equality and accessibility within mainstream society. Out of the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities came the Independent Living Philosophy. However, no such formal philosophy came into being for the deaf community despite similar goals in deaf people’s activism.
The Independent Living Philosophy is not for any specific person or specific disability. I learned that the Independent Living Philosophy is a way of thinking about how every person should be able to make choices on their own that will lead to self-determination. The core essence of Independent Living is beautifully stated by Colleen Starkloff, “What we hold true is that a person’s disability is not the limiting factor in their ability to live independently.” The parallels between the Independent Living Philosophy and the goals of the Deaf community are so much alike that the Deaf community and the Disability community should work together to further push their initiatives for equality and accessible society.
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