This week's RFT feature story is about the DisAbility Project, a theater troupe here in St. Louis made up of actors who have disabilities. All week long on Daily RFT,
we'll be posting video of the DP in action. All skits were shot during
a performance on October 28 at the Saint Louis Art Museum for an
audience of students, ranging from elementary to high school.
In this skit, called "Facts and Figures", cast members share some sad facts about how disabled people have been treated throughout history and some sad facts about their lives today.
More facts and figures after the jump.
One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Stephen Hopkins, had cerebral palsy. (As he signed, he said, "My hand trembles, but my heart does not.")
From about 1850 until 1972, the eugenics movement encouraged forced sterilization and, in some cases, "mercy killing" of disabled people to discourage the perpetuation of disability through natural selection. This was not just in Nazi Germany, but in the United States, where as late as 1968, 23 states had compulsory sterilization for mentally retarded people.
The Americans with Disability Act became law in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against disabled people and requires that public buildings and transportation be accessible. However, many buildings (particularly historic ones) remain inaccessible and, in many places, even hospitals, the sidewalks don't have cut curbs for wheelchairs to get up and down.
There are about 17 million disabled people in the U.S., the nation's largest minority.