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Tag: Helen Keller

Disability History from the Presidential Libraries

First Page of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Read the transcript: http://www.archives.gov/research/americans-with-disabilities/transcriptions/naid-6037488-americans-with-disabilities-act-of-1990.html

Today’s blog post is written by Susan K. Donius and Sierra Gregg. Susan K. Donius is the Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration. Sierra Gregg is a summer intern at the National Archives and a senior at Truman State University in Missouri, where she is studying Computer Science. This year, she was awarded a scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the act into law on the White House South Lawn in front of an audience of 3000 people. On that day, America became the first country to adopt a comprehensive civil rights declaration for people with disabilities. The ADA was a landmark moment in history, designed to provide universal accessibility in the areas of employment, public service, public accommodations, and telecommunications. As President Obama noted in 2009 at the signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Proclamation, the ADA “was a formal acknowledgment that Americans with disabilities are Americans first, and they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else:  a right to belong and participate fully in the American experience; a right … [ Read all ]

A letter to the President—in Braille

Letter in Braille from John Beaulieu to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 10/1958 (ARC 594353)

This week marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The National Archives holds many records that relate to American citizens with disabilities. From personal letters to historic legislation, these records from the Presidential Libraries provide insight into disability history.

For the opening of the Public Vaults exhibition at the National Archives Building in 2004, public affairs specialist Miriam Kleiman was assigned to track down and bring to Washington some of the people mentioned in the exhibition. This is her account of her search for John Beaulieu.

I was intrigued by the letters from children in the “Dear Uncle Sam” section of the “Form a More Perfect Union” vault. One unusual letter in the stack interested me a great deal—a letter written in Braille to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by a young boy in the fall of 1956.

Thirteen-year-old John Beaulieu offered the President the following campaign stump speech: “Vote for me. I will help you out. I will lower the prices and also your tax bill. I also will help the negroes, so that they may go to school.”

The return address listed Perkins School for the Blind (Helen Keller’s alma mater) in Watertown, Massachusetts. After my Internet searches led nowhere, I called the Perkins School but was … [ Read all ]