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ADAPT

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ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. It is known for being part of the radical wing of the disability rights movement due to its history of nonviolent direct action in order to bring attention to the lack of civil rights the disability community has. However, ADAPT also practices legislative policy advocacy, grassroots education and mobilization, and individual members may engage in legal advocacy, as in the case of individual ADAPT members suing the Chicago Transit Authority in the 1980s.

ADAPT got its start at the Atlantis Community in Denver, Colorado, in 1983. The Atlantis Community was started by the Reverend Wade Blank, a nondisabled former nursing home recreational director who assisted several residents to move out and start their own community. Blank is also given much credit for helping ADAPT get started. Originally, the name was an acronym that stood for Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit. The group's initial issue was to get wheelchair accessible lifts on buses.

Throughout the 1980s, the campaign for bus lifts expanded out from Denver to cities nationwide. ADAPTers became well-known for their tactic of immobilizing buses to draw attention to the need for lifts. Wheelchair users would stop a bus in front and back, and others would get out of their chairs and crawl up the steps of an inaccessible bus to dramatize the issue. Not only city buses but interstate bus services like Greyhound were targeted.

By the end of the decade, after protests and lawsuits, ADAPT finally saw bus lifts required by law as passed by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. At that time, the group began looking for the next logical step in disability rights advocacy, while ensuring follow-through of transportation provisions in the ADA.

In 1991, ADAPT had decided to make community supports for people with disabilities its major issue. Many members of ADAPT had struggled for years to leave nursing homes and institutions where they had been warehoused. They felt it was important to work to free other people with disabilities unable to get out.

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