In 1989, the administrators at Gallaudet University for the Deaf passed over several deaf finalists for the position of university president. Instead, they hired the one finalist with normal hearing. The students were so outraged that they staged demonstrations and effectively closed down the college, to the chant of “Deaf President Now.” Their action received worldwide support and finally, the chosen president resigned. I. King Jordan, one of the originally unsuccessful finalists, then began a very successful run as president.
In 2000, golfer Casey Martin was told that he could not participate in the U.S. Open because his disability required that he use a golf cart during the tournament. Martin then sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Supreme Court agreed that he had been discriminated against because of his disability.
And as so often happens in history, these triumphs paved the way for subsequent generations. On New Year’s Day, the Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band marched in the Outback Bowl parade and performed at the halftime show.
No one would say that these musicians needed to “earn” their rights by marching in a band. But it is gratifying to see that they did not allow themselves to miss out on what must have been an exhilarating experience.
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