First Disability History Webinar

Today marked the beginning of the History of Disabilities Webinar Series, hosted by the Southeast ADA Center and the Burton Blatt Institute. The first of four lessons, “The Tangled Roots of Disability Policy,” was taught by Dr. Larry Logue . Dr. Logue is a former Professor of History at Mississippi College and is currently a Senior Fellow at the Burton Blatt Institute.

The lecture began with a description of change the 19th Century. There was the Second Great Awakening, emphasis on prisoners completing work-based reform, and a drop in the US birthrate. Dr. Logue noted that each of these happenings involved emphasis on personal responsibility. One is responsible for his or her salvation, discipline, and family planning. Interestingly, it is at the same time that the “medical model” of disability emerges.

Yet, Dr. Logue asked participants to question, is the medical model really all that medical? After all, soldiers returning from the Civil War did not have good options for rehabilitation. Many opted for a cash payout rather than a government prosthetic. Or a returning vets completely outside the disability model system, in that their disabilities were caused by the public’s decision to go to war rather than a personal choice?

The Series’ material was interesting, but too short. Dr. Logue only spoke for about 25 minutes, leaving time for ample questions from the audience. Most questions were thought-provoking, but could not be answered because either: (1) the material is reserved for a future lesson in the Series or (2) no one has researched the issue yet. Maybe the Southeast ADA Center or the Burton Blatt Institute would like to offer research grants to interested parties? (Hint, hint…)

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