Disabled people are still struggling for the right to use public transport, get into buildings, go to school or college with their friends, or to get a job. Although civil rights legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) or the Disability Discrimination Act (UK 1995), have helped, disabled people still often feel that the dominant culture sees them as different from everyone else because of persisting stereotypes of disability.
Anyone can, at any time, become disabled, or develop a physical or mental impairment. Perhaps people’s need to distance themselves from this harsh reality makes it convenient to rely on received negative attitudes and historical stereotypes of disability. These stereotypical images are less troubling than accepting the individuality, the joy, the pain, the appearance, behaviour and the rights of disabled people. This could explain why disability equality has been called ‘the last civil rights movement’.
What disabled people want more than anything else is to be accepted for who they are and to have their rights guaranteed in law and in practice.