“Disability history is very important. It needs to be captured, protected, available and disseminated,” said Colleen Kelly Starkloff. Colleen attended the first meeting aimed at reaching this goal at the University of Texas at Arlington: Constructing a digital internet portal through which disability history is made more widely and easily available.

Students, historians, archivists and the like will find it easier to access a tremendous amount of disability-related information with this digital portal project. More than 45 libraries, universities, museums, organizations and individuals attended this meeting to assist UTA in developing a grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for funding.

Colleen and her late husband, Max J. Starkloff, played a role in recent disability history — the Disability Rights Movement. “The way that people with disabilities have been treated, cared for, institutionalized, marginalized and otherwise viewed as helpless gave life and urgency to the need for the movement in the US,” Colleen said.

Now that we have equal rights, accessibility, and independent living, Colleen made several recommendations at this meeting for continued progress. She advised that: 1) All information be available in accessible formats, 2) The leaders and achievements of the Disability Rights Movement be included in the disability archives and 3) Disability Studies Curricula be created and taught to students from elementary school through college-level history programs.

SDI applauds the effort put forth by UTA and hopes the outcomes include our recommendations. The DRM has truly changed how Americans with and without disabilities now live their lives. That’s no small feat and needs to be shouted from the rooftops!

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© 2015 Starkloff Disability Institute