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Interpreting the Evidence

Disability Activists and the Community Attendant Services Act

  • Historical Era:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Comprehension

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil Rights

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Article. Lifting Liberty in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Article. Lifting Liberty in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

This Brain Has a Mouth was a publication started by Lucy Gwin to advocated for disability rights. Gwin dedicated her life to advocacy after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car accident and experiencingacceptable treatment at a rehabilitation facility in Cortland, New York. She brought about significant changes to disability policies through her work as an activist and publisher. This political cartoon was created for the magazine in 1997.

The Medicaid Community Attendants Services Act or Mi Casa was proposed in 1997. However, it never became law. It would have given recipients of health services the choice of entering a facility or seeking services in their home and community. Elderly individuals and people with disabilities were forced to obtain care from institutions like nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals. Mi Casa was considered a major step forward in civil rights for disabled and elderly individuals in the United States.

In 2000, the Americans Act Caregiver Program was established which provided grants states to provide support to caregivers to care for their loved ones at home.

Setting the Stage

Show this video from pbslearningmedia.org to begin a discussion about disability rights.

https://ny.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/mti17.history.ada/history-of-the-americans-with-disabilities-act-ada-move-to-include

To learn more about Lucy Gwin, read the article "This Brain Had a Mouth" in the Winter 2022 issue of New York Archives magazine. 

Connections to the NYS Social Studies Framework

8.9 DOMESTIC POLITICS AND REFORM: The civil rights movement and the Great Society were attempts by people and the government to address major social, legal, economic, and environmental problems. Subsequent economic recession called for a new economic program. (Standards: 1, 4, 5; Themes: TCC, SOC, CIV, ECO)

11.10 SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHANGE/DOMESTIC ISSUES (1945 – present): Racial, gender, and socioeconomic inequalities were addressed by individuals, groups, and organizations. Varying political philosophies prompted debates over the role of the federal government in regulating the economy and providing a social safety net. (Standards: 1, 4, 5; Themes: ID, TCC, SOC, GOV, CIV, ECO)