Monday, October 29, 2007

Email Question: Is it true that there was an Ugly Law before the ADA?

...because in the Music Within they talked about it?
A Reader

Dear Reader:
Yes there were several places that had an Ugly Law that affected people with disabilities. Chicago was the last to repeal theirs in 1974. The passage of the ADA has perhaps obscured some of the public's awareness of the fact that it wasn't that long ago that a person with a disability was , in some cases, fined for appearing in public. However this is a very real part of the experience of some disabled people who are still alive - and a cautionary flag in our common history as to the importance of continuing to raise awareness about the need for inclusion.

I've linked above to an article that addresses the history of these laws in a very readable way - and links it to the story of Richard in the movie Music Within.

This is how the Chicago Municipal Law read before its repeal:

"No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense."

Thanks for your question .


Elizabeth McClung said...

Wow, and I only through BC was that mean spirited - ahhh!

Ruth said...

It's sad sad sad.