The Establishment Period 1900-1972
The Establishment Period
is so named because this was the
time period in which disability disciplines were established as specific entities.
During this period, new policies, laws, and litigations represented significant gains for
people with disabilities, their families and disability advocates. Significant advances
were also made in the study of the prevention and ramifications of disabilities.
In addition, people's views concerning disabilities and the capabilities of
people with disabilities changed dramatically in a positive manner.
period, people with disabilities became a larger percentage of the American
population. Advances in medicine allowed children to survive disease and
birth difficulties at a higher rate then in the past. Along with these
advances, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War
created a new group of Americans with disabilities, young, wounded veterans,
who needed help to re-enter a postwar society with these new challenges.
These events spurred a focus on developing both technology that would help
improve the functional capabilities of people with various disabilities and
disability-related legislation for employment and education. These
innovations and legislations worked together to help people use their
functional abilities to reduce the effects of their disabilities and re-enter
the workforce in record numbers. The large number of motivated people with
disabilities caused an unprecedented boom in development of AT that continues today. The following are some important
AT development and legislative events that occurred during the Empowerment
- Early to Mid 1900’s
- Many organizations were established that advocated and provided services to individuals with specific disabilities
Council for Exceptional Children
American Speech Language Hearing
American Association on Mental
- United Cerebral Palsy
1918 - The
Soldier Rehabilitation Act of 1918 (aka the Smith-Sears Veterans
Rehabilitation provided services to soldiers with disabilities in the areas of vocational guidance, job placement and adjustment, training, and provided AT devices such as prosthesis.
- 1920 - The Smith-Fess Vocational Rehabilitation Act extended the
services of the Soldier Rehabilitation Act of 1918 to non-veterans with similar disabilities.
1920's to Mid 1930's - Technology for people with visual impairments such as Braille embossers, guide dogs, and reading machines,
often considered the core of modern technology for these
individuals, were all introduced.
- The Coyne Voice Pitch Indicator was introduced. This device allowed for speech to appear in a visual form,
and was the first step toward current voice recognition programs.
The Social Security Act was introduced. This act provided
grants to states for assisting individuals who were blind as well as
children with various disabilities.
- The Hoover cane, and thus the "touch cane technique" for mobility, was
introduced to assist veterans who had become blind during World War II.
The battery operated hearing aid was also developed around this time for
veterans who had lost their hearing during the war.
1948 - Clarence O'Connor and Edmund Boatner organized Captioned
Films for the Deaf (CFD), and America the Beautiful
was the first film to utilize this technology.
The Perkins Brailler (Braille typewriter) with keys
corresponding to each of the six dots in the Braille code, which allowed
people to type in Braille and is still in use today, was introduced.
- The Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs Board of Education renouncing
the "separate but equal" concept became an inspiration for the
disability rights movement, which has allowed for the proliferation of
AT device creation and use.
1963 - South Carolina passed the first architectural access code,
requiring buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities. This
lead to the 1965 establishment of the National Commission on
Architectural Barriers and eventually, the passage of the Architectural
Barriers Act in 1986.
- The lasercane, which emitted a beam of light to detect objects in
one's path and was less bulky than the Hoover cane, was introduced.
Establishment Period was also a transition period. The beginning of the
period was similar to the Foundation Period in that the majority of the
activity was dedicated to developing products and policy for the deaf
and blind. At this point in the period, inclusion was not a high
priority. As the period progressed, this idea began to change. laying
the ground work for the Establishment Period. The change began in the
1950's with the Brown vs Board of Education decision as well as the
passing of the first architectural access code. The Establishment Period
was important not only for helping to establish the AT field, but also
for the role it played in transitioning from early attitudes toward
disability to the more inclusive modern environment.