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New Exhibit Explores Disability Rights Movement in NYC

New Exhibit Explores Disability Rights Movement in NYC [Photo:  Disability Independence Parade, 1993. Image provided by Disability Pride NYC]

mage provided by Disability Pride NYC.
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In light of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act the Brooklyn Historical Society is launching an exhibition called "Gaining Access: The New York City Disability Rights Movement." 
 
The exhibition’s curator is renowned New York City historian Warren Shaw. He witnessed firsthand the origins of the movement, as his mother and father played integral roles in advancing disability rights. 
 
According to Shaw, one of the earliest victories was a 1966 statute, which exempted New Yorkers with disabilities from having to pay parking meter fees. Shaw says the point of the exemption was to make life and travel more practical for the thousands of residents with disabilities.  
 
"Consider: if the only way you could get around town was by car and you had to feed the meter every hour, how are you going to go to a movie or work a day's shift?" Shaw said. "The answer is they really couldn't."
 
Shaw said the statute galvanized Americans with disabilities to fight future injustices. He said it precipitated a protest against a 1967 ban on parking in midtown. 
 
"That got enormous coverage" Shaw said, "because of the eye-popping sight of people with crutches and wheel chairs picketing." 
 
The only coverage the 1966 parking meter statute received was a small article in the New York Times. Shaw says it will be on display as part of the exhibit.
 
Deborah Schwartz is the President of the Brooklyn Historical Society. She hopes that the exhibit inspires people to think of ways in which they can contribute to causes worth
struggling for. 
 
“I think the story of achieving greater and greater access for New Yorkers with disabilities can translate into so many other stories,” Shwartz said.
 
"Gaining Access" runs until October and will feature a number of programs and events.