Hugh Gallagher, “Biographer: The country just simply didn’t perceive Roosevelt as being handicapped, and they would look and they just would not see what they were seeing. People wanted him to be president, he wanted to be president. There was this little matter of being crippled in the way. The President was always performing. He was performing before crowds, before visitors of state, the Congress and so forth, but also for his family and everyone else. When he met Orson Welles, he said, “Orson, you and I are the two best actors in America,” and he was right, you know. He was right.”
Disability Policy & History
Statement before the Subcommittee on Social Security
of the Committee on Ways and Means
July 13, 2000
Edward D. Berkowitz
George Washington University
“Although Social Security Disability Insurance did not become law until July, 1956, a long period of discussion both in the executive agencies and in Congress preceded its passage. Planners in the Social Security Administration began their consideration of this measure in 1936. They devised a program that they felt could withstand the pressures of the depression. In particular, they wrote a tough definition of disability into their proposals so as to distinguish sharply between unemployment and disability. Instead of adopting a definition similar to the ones in the existing workers’ compensation and veterans pension laws, they chose to define disability as “an impairment of mind or body which continuously renders it impossible for the disabled person to follow any substantial gainful occupation,” and was likely to last for “the rest of a person’s life.” | “Even with this tough definition, which is similar to the one in the present law, many doubted the ability of federal officials to administer a disability program. As an actuary who served on the 1938 Social Security Advisory Council put it, “You will have workers like those in the dust bowl area, people who have migrated to California and elsewhere, who perhaps have not worked in a year or two, who will imagine they are disabled.” The actuary warned that unless a highly qualified medical staff examined each applicant, the cost of the program would be higher than “anything that can be forecast.”
In 1948, a watershed for the movement was the proof of the existence of physical and program barriers. The proof was provided as a specification for barrier free usable facilities for the handicap. The specifications provided the minimum requirements for barrier free physical and program access. An example of barriers are; providing only steps to enter buildings; lack of maintenance of walkways; locations not connected with public transit; lack of visual and hearing communications ends up segregating individuals with disabilities from independent, participation, and opportunities. The ANSI – Barrier Free Standard (phrase coined by Dr. Timothy J. Nugent, the lead investigator) called “ANSI A117.1, Making Buildings Accessible to and Usable by the Physically Handicapped”, provides the indisputable proof that the barriers exist. It is based on disability ergonomic research conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign campus from 1946 to 1986. The research was codified in the ANSI A117.1 standard in 1961, 1971, 1980, and 1986. The standard is the outcome of physical therapists, bio-mechanical engineers, and individuals with disabilities who developed and participated in over 40 years of research. Easter Seals Education Committee Chairman Harold Wilke was tasked with assembling that diverse group in 1959. The standard provides the criteria for modifying programs and the physical site to provide independence. Applying the researched standards criteria presents reliable access and non-hazardous conditions. In October 2011 the standard turned 50 years old. The standard has been emulated globally since its introduction in Europe, Asia, Japan, Australia, and Canada, in the early 1960s. 
Speech starts at 12:55. See the FDR quote beginning at 31:10: “The Rainbow includes disabled veterans. The color scheme fits in the Rainbow. The disabled have their handicap revealed and their genius concealed; while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their disability concealed. But ultimately, we must judge people by their values and their contribution. Don’t leave anybody out. I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.”
Jesse Jackson: “The Rainbow includes disabled veterans. The color scheme fits in the Rainbow. The disabled have their handicap revealed and their genius concealed; while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their disability concealed. But ultimately, we must judge people by their values and their contribution. Don’t leave anybody out. I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.”
“When the American people got their first look at the entries in the 1988 presidential race, they sensed immediately that not one of the contenders measured up to their highest expectations. The Republican heir apparent was dismissed as a “wimp,” and the original Democratic field as the “seven dwarfs.” Asked whom in either party they preferred, a huge proportion of respondents replied, “None of the above.” And if inquirers had gone on to ask what sort of nominee voters had in mind, not a few would have answered without hesitation, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” That sentiment cut across party lines. Predictably more than one Democrat sought to associate himself with his party’s four-time winner. At the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, Jesse Jackson had drawn a roar of approval when he said that FDR in a wheelchair was better than Ronald Reagan on a horse, and in the 1988 contest Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois offered any number of New Deal solutions to contemporary problems. More surprisingly, Franklin Roosevelt has attracted no little favorable comment from Republicans, most conspicuously President Reagan. In his 1980 acceptance address Reagan spoke so warmly of FDR that the New York Times editorial the next morning was entitled “Franklin Delano Reagan,” and thereafter he rarely missed an opportunity to laud the idol of his opponents. Indeed, so powerful an impression has FDR left on the office that in the most recent survey of historians, he moved past George Washington to be ranked as the second greatest President in our history, excelled only by the legendary Abraham Lincoln.”
Rich B: "Environmentalist Al Gore and the Green lobby have come up with what they feel is the solution to America’s energy crisis. In the picture posted here the new "Green Machine" makes its debut. In honor of the late great former President FDR, the environmentalists decided to use his likeness to illustrate their newest "high tech" answer to the fuel crisis. The Green Machine comes complete with a 4.11 differential for fast acceleration and hole-shots and a retro set of G78R-15 radial Goodrich T.A. tires. It is completely powered by an ingenious system of belts and pulleys. Not visible in the illustration above is the optional Rat/Treadmill Turbocharger. The optional Spoiler for good handling is also pictured in the photo provided by Gore’s company which is named "Hell On Wheels"."
Janet Shapiro: "The most famous person who embraced the medical model is probably President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR, who carefully built his image as the "survivor cripple." Although there are over thirty-five thousand still photos of FDR at the Presidential Library there are only two of him seated in his wheelchair. Was it reasonable for FDR to make a deal with the press corps to keep the true nature of his paraplegia hidden in order to appear to "overcome his disability?" Paul Longmore believes such a deal could only be struck in a society that views disability as a kind of transgression. In public, FDR presented the image of the medical cure by using the aide of heavy metal braces and the support of walls, podiums, crutches, or he pretended to walk for short distances by leaning on the arms of two strong bodyguards and letting his legs swing. Most of the major government buildings had massive ramps built over the steps for FDR’s motorcade to pull up level with the main entrance so that FDR could appear to "walk" into the building. The day after FDR died all the ramps were destroyed."
You don’t have to be a history buff — although it probably would help — to get a charge out of the photos our brother blogger LPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt prepares to give a speech in Los Angeles 70 years ago today before a parade down Broadway and drive to San Diegoarry Harnisch has assembled over on The Daily Mirror. hey’re from The Times’ coverage 70 years ago today of the visit to Los Angeles of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Note the president’s own rail car, Railroad One, the 1930s equivalent of Air Force One.
"Lying forgotten two hundred feet below one of America’s most iconic buildings lies the closely guarded secret of one of America’s finest presidents – rusting away when it could be a monument to his greatness. Hidden under the Grand Central train terminal in New York lies a vast area that was unknown to the outside world until the late Eighties. It houses the power network that is responsible for the electricity that runs the entire station – and was a key target for Hitler during the Second World War. But there is also the little known Waldorf-Astoria platform, which is known by Grand Central staff as the Roosevelt Platform. And there is parked the decaying hulk of the train the four-times elected president used to hide his disability, the paralysis from the waist down which forced him to use a wheelchair in private."
Deep under Grand Central Terminal–in a location that is hidden away and can’t be revealed here–there is a secret train station that dates to the 1930s. It was built to serve a single passenger: then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The New York resident would often return to the city but didn’t want anyone to see him in the wheelchair that his polio forced him to sit in. So this underground station was built to allow FDR to arrive secretly. The president would arrive in a specially built train car that held FDR’s specially designed armored Pierce-Arrow limousine. The train car had doors wide enough to allow the limo to drive straight off, and it would then drive through the doors of an extra-wide elevator. Finally, it would emerge in the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel above, and no one would be the wiser about FDR’s physical condition. The secret station remained fully in operation until 1945, when FDR died. Today, the train car–seen here–remains under Grand Central and will likely stay there until the FDR museum can raise the funds to have it moved. Although the White House had demanded the construction of this special station, the federal government did not pay for the work. Instead, that responsibility fell on the Grand Central management.
In the Today’s show "Access Granted"series, the Today show personalities are getting behind-the-scenes looks at private places (Meredith Vieira visited the Vice-President’s mansion yesterday and Al Roker visited the Malstrom Air Force base on Tuesday). Today’s segment is near and dear to the hearts of NYC transit geeks, who know about Track 61, off Grand Central’s Metro North tracks. The unused tracks were meant for guests with private train cars to enter the Waldorf Astoria hotel directly–a special perk for VIPs. This entrance was used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to discreetly enter the Waldorf-Astoria hotel without people knowing he had polio. The video segment is a good look inside, but for those wanting a little more information, Trainjotting has some more details, like how Andy Warhol held a party there!
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s paralytic illness’ began in 1921 at age 39, when he got a fever after exercising heavily during a vacation in Canada. While Roosevelt’s bout with illness was well known during his terms as President of the United States, the extent of his paralysis was kept from public view. After his death, his illness and paralysis became a major part of his image. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis two weeks after he fell ill. A 2003 retrospective study favored a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a conclusion criticized by other researchers.
Named after the Portuguese explorer, the Ferdinand Magellan (also known as U.S. Car. No. 1) is a former Pullman Company observation car which served as Presidential Rail Car, U.S. Number 1 from 1943 until 1958. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami-Dade County, Florida acquired it in 1959. The Ferdinand Magellan was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service on February 4, 1985.
Secrecy and security are prevailing themes in this 2008 clip from NBC’s Today Show. The historical photos of FDR campaigning aboard the Ferdinand Magellan drew me to the video. What Today’s talking heads say about FDR’s polio, some of it notably inaccurate, is just as interesting from an historiographic point of view. Matt Lauer reduces the subject to a question of vanity vs. security.
Geoff Nunberg: "It’s a funny thing about dictionaries. First we’re taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster’s …" but that’s not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we’re not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard."
On Tuesday the Associated Press eliminated the phrases "illegal immigrant" and "undocumented" from its stylebook. Previous OTM guest Jose Antonio Vargas has been campaigning for this change for months on the grounds that “actions are illegal – not people.” The AP has conceded this point of view, but it’s not because of political correctness. Bob talks to AP editor Tom Kent, who explains that the change is part of a broader overhaul of the AP stylebook.
From high speed trading to e-books in the classroom, New York City is an emerging capital for the development and use of new technologies. WNYC’s New Tech City explains what’s coming next and how New Yorkers are changing the ways everyone lives and works. Innovation, entrepreneurship, and what’s got us staring at our phones all the time: that’s New Tech City.
Re-imagining accessibility through the transformations of culture -- particularly the transformative promise of accessible technology for people with disabilities -- is the work of the Fair Use Lab. What does Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster have to do with accessibility? Read more: Shape-Shifters in the Fair Use Lab [MiT6 2009]
Remix: Danger Mouse
Will DJ Danger Mouse become the Che Guevara of digital sampling? Consider the case for fair use made by The Grey Album.
In the moment when Paul Strand photographed her surreptitiously on the street in New York, the social engineers who created a system for licensing beggars never imagined that a blind woman had culture or could make culture. She herself may not have imagined it. Paul Strand probably didn’t give her much credit for making culture, either.Read more: Curiosity & The Blind Photographer [MiT5 2007] See more on blind photographers.
Disability As Praxis
I am a parent, homeowner, knowledge worker, and person with disabilities. Oppression is not my true word, but praxis is. In Paulo Freire’s transformative work, I find an affirmation deeper than ideology or political activism -- an affirmation of the dynamic role of disability in culture. I believe the daily praxis of making adaptations and negotiating accommodations represents a significant form of cultural production. Read Disability As Praxis.
ADA 20th Anniversary
On its 20th anniversary, pundits will debate what the Americans with Disabilities Act has accomplished. I still believe what I said in a TV interview after the ADA signing ceremony in 1990. “The ADA will not end disability discrimination overnight. But in a nation governed by the rule of law, getting it in writing is the place to start.” So what is the ADA's legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers.