San Francisco State University’s Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability created an online, temporary physical, and traveling exhibit called Patient No More. By selecting “Virtual Tour,” visitors quickly understand that this exhibition examines disability rights. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed with Section 504, which states that the federal government or any entities drawing upon federal funds must ensure physical accessibility — for buildings and transportation methods. Four years later, the Secretary of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) had yet to sign off on regulations that would put Section 504 into effect. Frustrated and upset by the situation, persons with disabilities circulated a national call to protest outside HEW buildings across the United States. In San Francisco, this demonstration transformed into a 26-day sit-in due to continued bureaucratic resistance. In the end, their work accomplished its goal and this law became a model for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Not only does this site shed light on disability history, but the creators strove for universal accessibility as well. Thus, this resource caters to many learning needs. High-contrast visuals, sans-serif fonts, and auditory narration increases ease for hard-of-sight users. Videos offer closed captions for hard-of-hearing individuals along with voice captioning. On each page in the “Virtual Tour,” users can take advantage of the audio descriptions. However, these descriptions capture the physical panels rather than the online format.

At the bottom of several pages, visitors can explore links to “find out more,” which could help teachers garner greater context. For instance, this linked site allows for deeper examination of oral histories. While the exhibit videos offer a compilation of individual perspectives surrounding specific topics like protestors’ meals, this related site permits students and teachers to peruse full transcriptions.

In addition to sources in the “Virtual Tour” tab, the “Resources” section offers a downloadable Word Document curriculum guide geared towards grades 7-12. It begins with a seven-page narrative about the historic events followed by eight activities applicable to the virtual exhibit. Students analyze the voices of persons with disabilities and try to put themselves in the shoes of activists during this time. Whether teachers delve further into the law itself, the personal tales, or the occupation overall, these case studies offer a possible addition to a world history lesson on disability rights.

Through accessible features for today’s audience, Patient No More offers insight into a normally marginalized group, concerning how these individuals exercised their power and agency.

Reviewed by Janet Hammond, George Mason University
How to Cite This Source
Janet Hammond, Patient No More in World History Commons,