Disability History Part II: Witchcraft, Handicap, and Slow Advancements #netde #eduDE

History Of Disability

In the first part of this series, I covered ancient times up until the Renaissance. I stopped at 1492, which was a very important year around the world. The central ideas of the Renaissance were the human body is a perfect thing, and those with disabilities were not considered perfect at all. During the Spanish Inquisition, disabled children were drowned and burned. Disabled children didn’t have a place in the perfect “Christian” world.

In Colonial America, disabled children were treated horribly. Many of them would be locked in cellars and spectators would pay to “gawk at the oddities”. Many parents forbid these children to leave the home or go out in public. Witchcraft accusations still ran rampant against girls and women, and many disabled females were whipped, tortured, burned or murdered as a result. Worldwide estimates of females killed during the “witchcraft” times is around 100,000.
Asylums and institutions continued to grow around Europe and conditions were inhumane for the residents. Essentially, they were left to rot. Orphanages also housed many of the disabled children.

In 1601, Queen Elizabeth decided to place the groups of poor into 3 subsets. The disabled poor were at the bottom. Called the “disabled poor”, they were ejected from hospitals and monasteries and forced to beg on the streets. Each would be given a cap to get money, thus the term “handicap” came into existence.

Advancements did slowly come for the deaf in Europe. Giralmo Cardano discovered in the 16th century that deaf people can be reasoned with. This eventually led to the creation of deaf schools in the 1700s, the first of which was a school in Germany created by Samuel Heinicke. This was followed by The Academy For The Deaf And Dumb in Scotland.

The blind were starting to be seen as something human when Valentin Huay opened the Institution For Blind Children in Europe. Huay first discovered blind people could actually read texts if the letters were raised. This eventually led to the discovery of Braille in 1829, but it did not become widely used until it was put into use at the St. Louis School For The Blind in 1860.

During the 1700s and 1800s, many disabled people deemed insane were put on ships and sailed from port to port as part of a tour. People would actually pay to view and laugh at these disabled people. This is where the term “Ship of fools” was created. At the end of the tours, the disabled were left at whatever the end of the destination was and abandoned. Even in London, at “Bedlam”, people would pay to see the insane.

Mental illness was starting to be looked at differently by some people in the world. Phillipe Pinel, who was a physician at La Bicetre Asylum in Paris, France, was one of the first to begin classifying these disorders. In 1793, Pinel was so horrified by the treatment of patients that he literally let them loose from their chains. Some of these patients had been shackled by chains for over 30 years. In 1800, Pinel wrote the “Treatises On Insanity”. Pinel put mental illness into four separate groups: melancholy, dementia, mania without delirium, and mania with delirium.

Beginning in 1801, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard began his work with “The Wild Boy Of Ayeron”, of which I wrote in more detail on 7/12/14: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/was-the-wild-boy-of-ayeron-autistic-how-did-this-help-create-special-education-edude/

In 1805, Benjamin Rush published Medical Inquiries And Observation, which was also one of the first modern attempts to explain certain mental disorders and illnesses. Many of these advances for individuals with disabilities were a step in the right direction, but science needed to catch up with theory.

To be continued…

Sheltered Workshop Eligibility Reduced by Bill in Congress #netde #eduDE

Transition To Workforce

President Obama signed this into law today. Another important part of this bill is that is changes who has oversight over some issues of independent living for adults with disabilities. It had been the Department of Education, but now it will be the Department of Health and Human Services. The law will be in effect two years from today, and those currently earning less than minimum wage will be required to attend career training with their state.

The Season Of Myths

The United States Congress passed a bill on Wednesday, July 9th, to limit the availability for disabled citizens to work in what are called Sheltered Workshops. The entire act is called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and it would prohibit any individual 24 years or younger from working a job that pays less than the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Many individuals who works these types of jobs are disabled individuals who may have a hard time finding work elsewhere. The law would require these citizens to obtain vocational rehabilitation training. The agencies that provide these types of services must work with schools to provide this training for disabled citizens called “pre-employment transition services”. These agencies must also use 15% of their federal funding to provide these services for people with disabilities. The bill passed 415 to 6 with both sides coming together, in what has been…

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Ira Shor: Why You Should Opt Out Your Children from State Testing

Smarter Balanced Assessment

If the only way to get rid of Smarter Balanced Assessment is for parents to opt-out, then let’s opt-out! In Delaware I believe, according to Kavips, only 7,000 parents would need to opt-out to make these tests meaningless.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Ira Shor is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and rhetoric. Shor understands that standardized testing is the foundation on which the entire “reform” project rests. Take away the test scores, and the data-driven teacher evaluation collapses, along with the ambitious plans for privatization.

Shor writes:

“Opt-Out: The REAL Parent Revolution”

We parents can stop the destruction of our public schools. We can stop the looting of school budgets by private charters and testing vendors. We can stop the abuse of our children by the relentless hours of testing. We can stop the closings, the co-locations, the mass firings, the replacement of veteran teachers with short-term Teach for America newbies, the shameful indignity of public schools told they have 24 hours to clear out so a charter can seize their classrooms. To do this, we have to opt-out our kids from the new…

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Update On Delaware IEP Task Force, SCR 63

SCR 63 IEP Task Force

I spoke with both Legislative Hall and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn’s office this morning, and received some updates on Senate Concurring Resolution 63, the creation of an IEP task force.  The bill passed both the House of Representatives and the state Senate at the end of the 147th General Assembly legislative session.  Legislators are in recess until January, 2015, but there will

Delaware Advocates: Request For A Summit Meeting #netde #eduDE


A Delaware advocate posted this on an interview I did with Kathy Willis this morning, and I think it’s an awesome idea.  So if you are an advocate in Delaware, please respond!  We need to get together, independent of any organizations or groups we do work for, and have a good talk about the world our children live in.  I will be happy to help coordinate this, and if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, don’t hesitate to email me at Exceptionaldelaware14@yahoo.com or post a comment.

Jon’s loving father,

First thanks for creating this blog. I typically do not partake in blogging for a variety of reasons, but since this one is focused on my primary area of advocacy have decided to join in when appropriate.

Since I am posting, I need to state that I am posting as an individual volunteer advocate and parent of a child with a complex disability, and that am not posting as a member, officer or any other capacity or are my comments officially representing the position of any of the multitude of advocacy organizations at the local, state and national levels that I volunteer for.

It was great to read Kathy’s story, and in many aspects mirrors my own.

It does bring up a question as to why all the special education advocates in Delaware to a significant extent work in silos. Yes we may not agree on every item of every issue, but we do agree that our children’s needs are not being met, and that the long term lost opportunity and damage to chidren because of this can to be allowed to continue.

So I will ask, who wants to get together this summer in a SPED advocates summit?