< Return to Video


  • 0:01 - 0:06
    My name is Jeff Moyer. I am a 71
    year old disability rights advocate,
  • 0:06 - 0:10
    writer, and musician. I've been
    involved with the ADA since before
  • 0:10 - 0:14
    it's inception when we were
    working to establish the
  • 0:14 - 0:21
    beginning of disability rights
    through the 504 regulations
  • 0:21 - 0:28
    that were signed in 1977
    following a 26 day sit in at
  • 0:28 - 0:32
    the San Francisco federal
    building and I was a musician
  • 0:32 - 0:35
    during that, although I did not
    live there like those heroes did.
  • 0:35 - 0:41
    I came and went. I had a young child.
    My involvement with the ADA began
  • 0:41 - 0:49
    when I heard Justin Dart speak in 1988
    I was captivated by his soaring oratory,
  • 0:49 - 0:53
    and his unifying message.
    I introduced myself and
  • 0:53 - 0:58
    asked if I might one day record
    his oratory, he said yes and that
  • 0:58 - 1:04
    began our friendship which led to
    him inviting me to perform my song
  • 1:04 - 1:10
    the ADA anthem at the U.S. senate
    at the evening reception following
  • 1:10 - 1:14
    the signing of the ADA at the white
    house in the morning.
  • 1:14 - 1:20
    I then became involved as a member
    of the ADA implementation network
  • 1:20 - 1:25
    and worked pro bono with people
    all over the country.
  • 1:25 - 1:31
    Helping ensure that the rights created
    by the ADA were realized in their lives.
  • 1:34 - 1:40
    I began to go blind the summer of
    1954, two weeks before my younger
  • 1:40 - 1:45
    brother was born with a severe
    cognitive disability and I think my
  • 1:45 - 1:53
    realization of exclusion and such
    occurred for me as I was trying to see
  • 1:53 - 1:59
    in first grade, to read and the
    materials were not accessible,
  • 2:00 - 2:04
    but my teacher had to write out
    everything she wrote on the board
  • 2:04 - 2:08
    and hand it to me separately.
    So it was my first realization
  • 2:08 - 2:12
    of a need and also the human
    intervention that met my needs.
  • 2:12 - 2:18
    For my brother it wasn't so easy
    and he became the victim of
  • 2:18 - 2:25
    extreme thuggery, and childhood
    violence and there were no schools
  • 2:25 - 2:29
    that would accept him, not even
    the schools for kids with disabilities.
  • 2:29 - 2:34
    As a result, he was institutionalized
    when he was 9 years old and that
  • 2:35 - 2:41
    opened a chapter in my life that
    continues about understanding
  • 2:41 - 2:48
    the needs of people with cognitive
    disabilities that thanks to the mighty
  • 2:48 - 2:54
    Olmstead decision as part of the ADA
    institutional life was considered a
  • 2:54 - 2:58
    violation of civil rights. There's so
    much to that story.
  • 2:59 - 3:10
    The ADA was a wonderful construct,
    however in it's construction,
  • 3:10 - 3:16
    the decision was made by the
    senate to exclude blindness so
  • 3:16 - 3:25
    every intersection in the country had curb
    cuts, but putting in accessible signals
  • 3:25 - 3:32
    for people with visual disabilities is
    a local option and I'm afraid that
  • 3:32 - 3:38
    and I know that for a fact. A dear
    friend of mine who's since passed
  • 3:38 - 3:43
    was part of that whole process in
    Washington. Her name was
  • 3:43 - 3:51
    Mary Jane Owen. So the ADA is a
    great promise, but it's only realized
  • 3:51 - 4:01
    through individual action when
    people apply the skills of advocacy
  • 4:01 - 4:05
    to make sure that case by case,
    it's realized.
  • 4:06 - 4:12
    I was invited to the white house for
    the signing ceremony and I got
  • 4:12 - 4:16
    there early just by virtue of when
    my plane landed so I was seated
  • 4:16 - 4:21
    in the front row of the public section.
    There was a section for congress, and
  • 4:21 - 4:24
    the administration and then a
    section for the public.
  • 4:24 - 4:28
    When the president walked out
    crossing the platform that had
  • 4:28 - 4:32
    been constructed so that he could
    be seen by the crowd, by the
  • 4:32 - 4:36
    audience rather, of course the
    congressional section rose as one
  • 4:36 - 4:41
    in applause and then there came
    people yelling, "We can't see, sit
  • 4:41 - 4:47
    down!" Senator Kennedy was
    sitting right in front of me
  • 4:47 - 4:50
    and the woman who I met who
    was sitting next to me said that
  • 4:50 - 4:56
    he whipped around and realized
    that they were blocking the
  • 4:56 - 5:00
    view of people in wheelchairs.
    So there was this moment of
  • 5:00 - 5:04
    collision of protocol and accessibility
  • 5:05 - 5:11
    Of course people sat down. So it
    was the first time, as the ADA was
  • 5:11 - 5:17
    being signed, that accessibility was
    realized by virtue of personal action.
  • 5:20 - 5:24
    I think this is going to be a difficult
    time for realization of anything new
  • Not Synced
    concerning disability rights,
    because as our country is now
  • Not Synced
    wrestling with the economic
    outcome due to being shut
  • Not Synced
    down due to Coronavirus, I
    think we're going to be
  • Not Synced
    working real hard just to
    maintain the ground we have.
  • Not Synced
    If I could have anything I wanted
    in terms of accessibility, it would
  • Not Synced
    be to reopen the ADA's mighty
    pages to include information
  • Not Synced
    and orientation access and by
    that I mean if you're able to
  • Not Synced
    ambulate and you're blind or
    you can't read by virtue of a
  • Not Synced
    cognitive disability, simple things
    like street crossings, bus numbers,
  • Not Synced
    signs in buildings are difficult,
    impossible to read if you can't
  • Not Synced
    see or can't read. This technology
    is called talking signs, and we came
  • Not Synced
    very close. All of this is not
    required by the ADA, to see that
  • Not Synced
    realized as part of the ADA.
    However, the republicans blocked
  • Not Synced
    the highway bill because they
    didn't want President Obama
  • Not Synced
    to have any victories and we
    had a high priority amendment
  • Not Synced
    to that, that would've made
    Washington, D.C. the first
  • Not Synced
    accessible city in the world for
    people who can't see or can't read.
  • Not Synced
    When that happened after 10
    years of effort to get to that
  • Not Synced
    point, the little company went
    under. I had been a volunteer
  • Not Synced
    for it for 10 years and with it
    came really a crushing defeat
  • Not Synced
    for that type of accessibility.
    Now, there certainly are many
  • Not Synced
    types of access through one's
    cellphone if you're able to
  • Not Synced
    do that, but so many people
    aren't able or can't afford it
  • Not Synced
    that it makes accessibility
    something that requires money
  • Not Synced
    and the responsibility that the
    ADA made clear is that the
  • Not Synced
    responsibility for access is on
    behalf of the government.
  • Not Synced
    People have disabilities,
    situations create handicaps.
  • Not Synced
    I think what the ADA did was
    open the possibility for people
  • Not Synced
    that employment was going to be
    open to them.
  • Not Synced
    In fact we've lost ground since the
    ADA was passed, because people
  • Not Synced
    hid behind it in terms of their
    response to hiring.
  • Not Synced
    We need to make greater progress
    in terms of employment equity.
  • Not Synced
    As well as orientation and
    information access.
  • Not Synced
    The ADA, I just heard Robert
    Moses who is one of the great
  • Not Synced
    heroes of the civil rights
    movement, freedom summer 1964
  • Not Synced
    and he said the Civil Act of 1964
    and the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Not Synced
    are ideas, but they have yet to be
    fully realized.
  • Not Synced
    The ADA, it's an idea, it's a
    construct, it's a mighty
  • Not Synced
    accomplishment, but to see it
    fully realized in our lives
  • Not Synced
    requires accessibility and
    said decision addresses
  • Not Synced
    what I consider to be the most
    extreme need we have.
  • Not Synced
    That is safe and accessible
    housing for people with
  • Not Synced
    cognitive disabilities.
    Institutions still exist, and even
  • Not Synced
    in the community it takes
    advocates to make sure that
  • Not Synced
    people are able to live in safe and
    welcoming environments, even in
  • Not Synced
    their own home. I saw this with
    my brother who died of lung cancer
  • Not Synced
    because of being addicted to
    cigarettes in the institution
  • Not Synced
    when he was a child.
  • Not Synced
    But even in his last days there was
    thievery and violence in the home
  • Not Synced
    which is of course what we
    expected we would be getting
  • Not Synced
    away from when I was able to
    move him from the institution
  • Not Synced
    into a supported living home.
    So the greatest need is the
  • Not Synced
    needs of the least among us.
    Once again, we must listen to
  • Not Synced
    our heart intelligence, know
    what is right and then find
  • Not Synced
    the way that one's rights can
    address that.
  • Not Synced
    The ADA, IDEA, 504, the Voting
    Rights Act, or the Fair Housing
  • Not Synced
    Act amendments. There are many
    laws in the quilted protections
  • Not Synced
    we have, but each of them require
    individual planning and each of
  • Not Synced
    them require advocacy.
    So all of you advocates,
  • Not Synced
    all of you young people there
    that are reading this or
  • Not Synced
    watching this, the torch is
    being passed and it's
  • Not Synced
    important that younger
    generations now take on the
  • Not Synced
    mantle of continuing to move
    forward with our beloved, hard
  • Not Synced
    won disability rights, which are
    our civil rights.
  • Not Synced
    I hope that people are able to think
    more broadly about what we
  • Not Synced
    need as a community and pull
    as one in common direction,
  • Not Synced
    common cause for possibly
    the good of a few in the
  • Not Synced
    community, but we all benefit
    when we are lifted up through
  • Not Synced
  • Not Synced
    I added music to our
    demonstration to the signing
  • Not Synced
    of the ADA, to the commemoration
    of it's 10th anniversary.
  • Not Synced
    Throughout I've understood the
    power of music.
  • Not Synced
    It communicates to the wider
    community. It buoys us up as
  • Not Synced
    advocates and it unites us.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
  • Not Synced
    widow said it the day of national
    service, the Martin Luther King
  • Not Synced
    holiday, that we have when we
    were involved in the civil rights
  • Not Synced
    movement, the 60's the
    disability rights movement
  • Not Synced
    in the 70's, it was music that
    helped us create a community
  • Not Synced
    because we sang together
    as one and I do hope that
  • Not Synced
    music is not lost as a means
    to pull us together.
  • Not Synced
    If there's one thing we need
    now, it is to know that we are one
  • Not Synced
    as people with disabilities, that we
    all share the same histories of
  • Not Synced
    in different ways of discrimination
    and exclusion and our rights
  • Not Synced
    are protected by the same laws.
    I do hope that culture continues
  • Not Synced
    binding us together and giving
    voice through it's myriad ways
  • Not Synced
    so that people are able to express
    the reality and hope.
  • Not Synced
    Hope is what we need more
    than ever right now and
  • Not Synced
    that is what the ADA provided,
    was a great beacon of hope.
Video Language:
ABILITY Magazine

English subtitles

Revisions Compare revisions