Gyasi Burks-Abbott Shares His Personal & Professional Journey as Disabilities Self-Advocate

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Gyasi TA19 2Gyasi Burks-Abbott is a librarian, writer, public speaker, autism self-advocate and a fellow with Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND), a nationwide training program including 52 locations across the nation, designed to improve the health of infants, children and adolescents with disabilities.

In his talk on Autism and Civil Rights, Gyasi shares a timeline depicting the slow paradigm shift from a medical model of disability to a social model, and from institutionalization to community inclusion.

The beginning of this shift is evidenced in the 1970s, in the following timeline, as disability begins to be treated as a protected class in anti-discrimination legislation:

  • 1973 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs receiving federal funds.
  • 1975 – Education for All Handicapped Children Act (later renamed IDEA) mandates a free and appropriate public education for all disabled children.
  • 1990 – Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, and public services.
  • 1999 – US Supreme Court Olmstead Decision rules that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • 2014 – Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Final Rule mandates that federal funds used for Home and Community Based Services must be in the most integrated setting.

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